The first time I heard Lamar Waldron's name was through the auspices of Gus Russo. It was at the famous (or infamous) 1993 ASK Conference in Dallas. Now, after reading Waldron's book Ultimate Sacrifice (co-written with Thom Hartmann), I think it is relevant and enlightening to describe some of the things that happened back in 1993. Somehow, some way, Russo had been given control over a panel and had also invited some rather odd guests to attend, e.g. Ed Butler. As described elsewhere (see my article on Russo in Probe Vol. 6 No. 2 p. 12) it was at this conference that Russo basically reversed course from his earlier days and went over to the "Krazy Kid Oswald" camp. He had completed work on his shockingly one-sided PBS special and at this conference he and Mark Zaid began to forcefully divorce themselves from any kind of conspiracy angle. For example: The late Larry Harris had gotten several witnesses to arrange themselves in Dealey Plaza. Zaid went there and passed out leaflets attempting to discredit them. Zaid also helmed a panel on Oswald and he proclaimed that Oswald had no ties to the intelligence community. Zaid also was screaming at people who used the Zapruder film to advocate conspiracy: "You know more than Dr. Luis Alvarez, huh!" The conference culminated in a shouting match between Dr. Cyril Wecht and Russo over his loaded PBS special.
It was during this singular conference that I first heard Lamar Waldron speak. Apparently, Waldron was another one of Russo's invitees. On the panel he helmed, Russo had given Waldron a solid hour to expound on his "Project Freedom" thesis. This was an extraordinary amount of time: 20-25 minutes had been the outer limits before Waldron appeared. The talk Waldron gave has become one of the main concepts of the book under discussion. In retrospect, considering where Russo had been and was headed, I now fully understand why he was promoting Waldron. I recall listening to Waldron for about 10 minutes and being puzzled as to how the unconvincing hodge-podge he had assembled fit together. I walked out. When I returned he had fielded a question by mentioning that Robert Kennedy controlled JFK's autopsy at Bethesda. Even at that time this idea was dubious simply because of, among other things, Pierre Finck's testimony at the Clay Shaw trial. In light of that evidence I remember thinking: Lamar Waldron has an agenda the size of a football stadium.
After reading Ultimate Sacrifice I think I was wrong. Lamar Waldron has an agenda the size of the Grand Canyon. I can also see why Waldron needed an hour. The authors are nothing if not long winded. They make the likes of Joan Mellen, Dick Russell (in his revised version), and Noel Twyman look like models of brevity. The book's text comes in at 786 pages. With photos, exhibits, and footnotes the hardcover edition is 875 pages. It was published by Carroll & Graf, a house that is notorious for skimping on editing, fact, and source checking (see the works of Harrison Livingstone.) As we shall see, this book needed serious help in all those areas. In no way does it justify its length. Most of the book is a tedious rehash of the work of dubious authors, so it could have easily been half as long. And what makes that aspect worse is, when all is said and done, they have not proven any of the central tenets of the volume. Even though, as we shall see, they have brazenly cherry-picked the evidence they present.
The book is divided into three parts. Part One deals with the so-called discovery of C-Day. That is, a plan for a coup in Cuba to be carried out by the Pentagon and the CIA. This would be coordinated with the murder of Castro by a secret collaborator on the island. The murder would be blamed on the Russians, this would create a crisis on the island and that would precipitate an invasion by a large flotilla of Cuban exiles led by Manuel Artime, Tony Varona, Eloy Menoyo, Manolo Ray and a group of Fort Benning trained Cuban militia. A provisional government would then be erected. This first part of the book also discusses the CIA-Mafia plots against Castro, two previous assassination attempts in Chicago and Tampa and profiles of major players involved in C-Day. (Part of the book's turgidness comes from repetition. There was no need to discuss the two previous plots against JFK here since they are detailed much later.)
Part Two deals further with the CIA-Mafia plots, and what they see as the actual perceived build-up to the assassination by the Mob. Part Three is essentially a chronicle of November 1963. It includes longer versions of the Chicago and Tampa attempts, the actual assassination, and how that impacted C-Day, and a final chapter entitled The Legacy of Secrecy, in which the authors trace how the assassination enabled a cover-up of C-Day and how this had an effect on events afterwards.
If one examines the text, the first of many curious aspects becomes evident. The longest part of the volume is the middle section, which is not actually about C-Day. It is really about the Mob's motivation, planning, pretexts, and precedents for killing JFK. And this is really the subject of the last section also. So by my rough estimate, about 2/3 of the book is not about what the author's trumpet as their great discovery. The larger part of the book is actually a kind of concentration and aggrandizement of all the Mob-did-it books rolled into one. As we shall see, this book is actually a new (and fatuous) spin on an old and discredited idea, namely Robert Blakey's Mob-did-it theory. The reader can see this just by browsing through the footnotes, which I did for this review. The familiar faces are all there: John Davis, Dan Moldea, Blakey, the HSCA volumes, David Scheim, even, startling enough, Frank Ragano. They are all quoted abundantly and, as we shall see, indiscriminately. I can literally say that this book would not exist in its present (bloated) form without that gallery of authors.
But before dealing with that aspect of the book, let's deal with Part One, where Waldron and Hartmann present the concept of C-Day to us. The plan I summarized above was scheduled for December 1, 1963, nine days after JFK was killed. The sources for this is a series of CIA documents codenamed AM/WORLD, interviews with former Kennedy Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and a man named Harry Williams who was a friend of Bobby Kennedy's and was allegedly coordinating this plan with the exiles.
In the hardcover edition of the book, they do not name the coup leader, but they very strongly hint that it was Che Guevara. They do everything except underline his name in this regard. Whole chapters are written about him. Now, considering that, I had a hard time digesting the logic of AM/WORLD. As anyone would who has read the history of Castro's revolution. We are to believe that Che Guevara, the man who came to symbolize worldwide Marxist rebellion, would betray that lifetime struggle, murder his partner in revolution, ally himself with the capitalist colossus of the north, and blame the murder of his friend on his Russian communist allies. Further, he would then cooperate in a provisional government with the likes of CIA stooges like Artime and Varona. Had Che Guevara undergone a rapid and extreme conversion without anyone noticing? Did the bearded revolutionary icon really believe that by killing Castro and throwing in his lot with Artime, Varona and the CIA that he would be purifying the communist zeal of 1959 which Castro had somehow subdued?
To put this strange scenario on the page, the authors leave out some facts that made Che Guevara the living legend he was. And also the facts of his death, when he was hunted down and killed in Bolivia with the help of the CIA. (Poor devil, he actually thought the guys who killed him were his allies.) Let's fill in some of those expurgated pages. After Castro's revolution took hold, he began rounding up all the higher ups left over from the Batista government. He then arranged a series of show trials before he imprisoned and/or executed them. The number put before the firing squad is estimated at about four hundred and up. The man in charge of the phony trials and summary executions was Che Guevara. So the idea that he would turn around and be palsy-walsy with Artime and Varona, who were much closer to Batista than to him, is kind of weird. In 1959 he may have had them shot or imprisoned. Second, one of the reasons Che left Cuba is that he wanted to spread the Marxist revolt abroad, whereas Castro was trying to solidify it at home. Yet the authors want us to believe that Guevara would put an end to this foothold right in the place he struggled to establish it. Third, during the Missile Crisis, it was feared that the US would launch a huge armada to invade the island. The Russians had given the Cubans not just ballistic missiles, but tactical nukes. Reportedly these were under the control of the Cubans. It was Che Guevara who urged Castro to use them to vaporize any invasion crossing the Caribbean. If you buy this book, a year later he was inviting them with open arms to take over the island he was willing to partially nuke in order to save. Maybe Che Guevara had a nervous breakdown in the interim? Or did he really believe that Artime, Varona and the CIA would allow him, Ray and Menoyo to construct a leftist paradise after the invasion?
Evidently, others, like David Talbot in Salon, had some trouble with this aspect of the book. So in the trade paper version, the authors changed their tune. The new identity of the coup leader is Juan Almeida. Now Almeida does not really fit the profile the authors describe in the hardcover version. That is, a person of such enormous stature and appeal that he could seamlessly replace Castro, convincingly blame the murder on the Russians, and then set up this Provisional Government with a group of people who had invaded their country two years ago and then almost nuked it 13 months before. Further, he is still alive and in the titular position of Revolution Commander. There is a recent photo of him with Raul Castro at a session of the National Assembly in Havana. It was after the trade paper version was released. I wonder what the conversation was like between the two when Raul learned of Juan's plan to murder his brother, and probably him, and turn the country over to the CIA, the Pentagon, and Artime.
What makes this switch even more bracing is the person who rode to the rescue for Waldron and Hartmann. It was none other than Liz Smith. The same Liz Smith who is always good for a blurb on the books of John Davis. Who is always there for a "Kennedys and the murder of Monroe" spiel (which, predictably, figures in this volume on pp. 402-407). And who has always been an avid promoter of Judith Exner. In fact she penned the last installment before Exner passed away. (Of course, Exner appears here more than once.) In her column in the New York Post dated 9/22/06 she says she found out about the coup leader's actual identity through some new CIA documents. Hmmm. (She is not known as an ace archival researcher.)
Another interesting aspect of this coup in Cuba idea is who knew about it and who did not. According to Talbot, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara did not know. Even though the authors insist that it was more a Pentagon operation than a CIA one. (Even more puzzling: they state on p,. 42 that the operation could rise to the level of a full-scale invasion by US forces. When were they going to tell McNamara, the day before?) And although the authors use Rusk to bolster their claim, he says he did not know about it at the time, but learned about it later. National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy did not know about it either since he told author David Corn that in 1963, the operations against Cuba were winding down to a dribble. So the three highest Cabinet level officers, who should have known about such an operation, somehow were left in the dark.
But the authors know who was in the light. They were:
- Jack Ruby
- Guy Banister
- David Ferrie
- David Morales
- Howard Hunt
- John Martino
- Richard Nixon
- Carlos Prio
- Santo Trafficante
- Jimmy Hoffa
- Carlos Marcello
- Sam Giancana
- Johnny Roselli
- David Phillips
- Rolando Masferer
- Bernard Barker
- James McCord
- Michael Mertz
- Charlie Nicoletti
- Gilberto Lopez
- Richard Cain
- Frank Sturgis
- George Nonte
And I saved the best for last: Lee Harvey Oswald. So the Kennedys were so careless that the word about this secret operation leaked out to people like Ruby and Ferrie; but yet they were paradoxically so careful that they managed to keep it from McNamara. Now some people would think this odd. The authors anticipate this by saying that some people in the administration knew and some did not. They even go to the lengths of depicting meetings at which some know about it and some do not. (p. 51) Even when it's actually under discussion. Yet, to use a figurative example, McNamara never said to Richard Helms, "Dick, did you say we were sponsoring a coup in Cuba next month?" To which Helms must have replied, "Oh no Bob, the Cubana Coupe is a new car model I'm buying."
The aspect of who knew and who did not is so tenuous, so questionable, so minutely balanced on the head of a pin that serious questions arise about those who the authors say were witting. As stated above, Helms was supposed to be knowledgeable about C-Day. Yet there is a revelatory anecdote about this issue in his book, A Look Over My Shoulder (pgs 226-227). Helms got word of a large arms cache that had landed in Venezuela from Cuba. It was allegedly shipped to help some communist guerillas there. In other words, Castro was exporting revolution into South America. Something the Kennedys did not want him to do. Helms was so alarmed by this that he personally went over to see Robert Kennedy to plead his case for emergency action. After all it was three tons of armaments. RFK passed on it and told him to go see the president. He did and he even took over one of the rifles supposedly found, presumably to convince JFK of the urgency of the situation. Here was the casus belli. Yet JFK was non-plussed. But Helms did salvage something for his efforts. He asked for and got a photo of Kennedy.
What I find so interesting about this episode is the date Helms places it on: November 19, 1963. Did Helms forget C-Day was coming up in 12 days? Did he want to move it up because he knew the Mafia was going to kill JFK? Was it all a silly charade? Or maybe Helms just wanted the picture. But that's not all. In Joseph B. Smith's book Portrait of A Cold Warrior (p. 383), he refers to the seizure of this cache of arms. He apparently got some reports on it, and skillful and veteran analyst he was, he quickly deduced it was planted. So if we take Ultimate Sacrifice seriously, Helms went to the trouble of creating a phony provocation when he knew that C-Day was less than two weeks off.
But the capper is this: both the Helms and Smith books appear in the footnotes to Ultimate Sacrifice.
David Talbot raised an interesting point about the central thesis. If the Kennedys were sponsoring a coup in Cuba for December 1st, why would the Mafia, and some Cubans, conspire to assassinate him nine days before? It's especially odd since one would think that the exile Cubans who Waldron and Hartmann say knew about it, like say Masferer and Sturgis, would likely want it to succeed. After all, they had been working for this for years. Interestingly, the authors don't even mention some of the Cubans who are highly suspect in the JFK case, like say Bernardo DeTorres and Sergio Arcacha Smith. Now, if Smith was involved in JFK's murder, it is really odd. He was part of the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC) as was Varona, who the authors maintain was one of the major players in the operation. Yet Varona apparently never told his colleague Smith. Or maybe there was nothing to tell. For as Bill Davy noted in Probe Magazine (Vol. 7, No. 2, p. 5), FBI informants within the CRC, including leader Jose Miro Cardona, were disgusted with Kennedy in 1963 over his Cuba policy. After a high level meeting in Washington, Cardona came away with the feeling that "the United States policy is now one of peaceful co-existence with Communist Cuba." More to the point, "the United States has no plan to free Cuba of Communism." The Justice Department report continued that the CRC's feeling about the US was "very bad, and they feel they had been abandoned in their fight." Is this perhaps why people like Smith and DeTorres became suspect in the JFK case and why Smith tried to set up the seemingly pro-Castro Oswald, in order to provoke an attack against Cuba? You won't read a sentence about that in Ultimate Sacrifice.
Although the authors mention the Lisa Howard/William Attwood back channel to Castro in the attempt for dÈtente with Cuba, they downplay it (p. 113), and later they actually dismiss it as meaningless. They also do not mention Kennedy's 1963 letter to Khruschev, which Davy quotes: "I have neither the intention nor the desire to invade Cuba. I consider that it is for the Cuban people themselves to choose their destiny." (Davy, op. cit.) And of course, Waldron and Hartmann ignore the important Peter Kornbluh article in Cigar Aficionado (summarized in Probe, Vol. 7 No. 1 pp. 8-9). Probably because it paints a quite different picture of the quest for dÈtente. When Castro learned of Kennedy's death, he told JFK's envoy in the process, "This is an end to your mission of peace. Everything is changed." And as Kornbluh notes, Castro was right. LBJ pursued it no further.
This rigorous, systematic refusal to acknowledge or confront contrary evidence is nowhere more demonstrable than in the treatment of the Bay of Pigs and the Missile Crisis. One would think that in a book concentrating on Cuban-American relations from 1960-63, these two events would get special treatment. One would be dead wrong. Combined they get all of five pages. Even though there have been reams of documents declassified on both events by the Assassinations Records Review Board, they use none of it. Incredibly, they ignore both the CIA Inspector General Report by Lyman Kirkpatrick, and the White House sponsored Taylor Report on the Bay of Pigs. Concerning the Missile Crisis, they fail to quote from the landmark book The Kennedy Tapes, which is the closest thing we have to a verbatim account of the crisis. This was unfortunate for me since I wanted to get their take on why JFK would not OK an invasion during those two events when everyone in the situation room was demanding it, yet he would OK one in 1963 when tensions had decreased and fewer people were egging him on. If you essentially skimp the two incidents, you can dodge the question.
The second part of the book is about the plotting of the Mafia Dons to assassinate President Kennedy. It also discusses the idea that the Mob discovered the C-Day plan, and then used this to somehow cover up their murder plot. This is the new twist to another Mob based scenario.
This part of the book is heavily -- and I mean heavily -- reliant on the authors of three decades ago whose books were spawned by the work of the House Select Committee's unremitting focus on the Mob. Waldron and Hartmann line them all up and use them profusely and without care: Dan Moldea, John Davis, Robert Blakey and Dick Billings, David Scheim. Even Frank Ragano and Aaron Kohn appear. As we shall see, some of the statements made in this section of the book are rather startling.
But even I was surprised at what the authors pulled in Chapter 33. Like Joan Mellen, they want to rewrite the history of the CIA-Mafia plots. To do so they question the best source we have on that subject, namely the 1967 Inspector General Report done for Richard Helms at the request of President Johnson. They say it is incomplete and that it leaves out certain aspects. Maybe this is so, and maybe it is not. For instance, there are rumors that the writers of the report actually did interview John Roselli. Did Waldron and Hartmann actually stumble upon this tape, or transcript or at least the interviewer? Is this what they found that was left out? That would truly be new and important.
But that isn't it. What is it then? None other than Dan Moldea (pp. 380-390).
They actually say that material in Moldea's 1978 book The Hoffa Wars should have been in the IG Report. I had to smile.
Let me explain. After I read Moldea's disgraceful book on the RFK case, I was shocked at its shoddiness (Probe Vol. 5 No. 4, p. 10, and The Assassinations pgs 610-631). I wondered how someone like this ever got started. So I went back and borrowed his first volume, the book on Hoffa. I took 30 pages of notes and came to the conclusion that it was almost as bad as his RFK book. (I never reviewed it since we decided to discontinue Probe.) Since Moldea is relying a lot on Walter Sheridan and other such sources, the portrait of Hoffa is aggrandized and sensationalized. The reason for this is twofold. Sheridan furnished Moldea with his prime witness against Hoffa, Ed Partin. Second, Moldea was writing right after the revelations of the Church Committee Report, which exposed in public the CIA-Mafia plots to kill Castro. Partin, Sheridan, and Moldea had a problem with those plots. Hoffa wasn't in on them. So Sheridan let Moldea borrow Partin so he could further his mendacious magic act. And Waldron and Hartmann suck this all up -- and expand it even further.
But being indiscriminate with a writer like Moldea is like a boxer leaving his chin exposed in the ring. You're looking for trouble. When Sheridan was heralding Partin as his star witness he had to do a lot of rehab work on him. Because writers like Fred Cook had shown that Partin had a criminal record that, to say the least, was rather compromising. So he decided to give Partin a lie detector test. Needless to say, since Sheridan arranged it, he passed with flying colors. But years later, something interesting happened to this test. A professional society of polygraph technicians got hold of the raw data from it. They were worried that less than scrupulous people were abusing legal ethics in using the machine. So a team of the country's leading experts studied the results and unveiled their findings at a convention. They concluded that Partin was deceptive throughout, but he almost broke the machine at the part where he related Hoffa's plot to murder RFK. Partin was so bad that the society deduced that the administrator of the test had to turn down the detection device to ensure the results Sheridan wanted. Ace archivist Peter Vea mailed me these documents over a decade ago and I discussed them at the 1995 COPA Conference in Washington. Vea later sent me a newspaper story about one of the original technicians being later convicted for fraud. So the information has been out there for about 12 years. Somehow, Waldron and Hartmann missed it. (And so did Moldea since he was still vouching for Partin in 1997 when his RFK book was published.)
But as I said, Moldea's book came out in 1978. Well after Hoffa was convicted and passed away so mysteriously. So the act Partin did for Sheridan was not enough for Moldea. Watergate and the Church Committee had occurred in the interim. So for Moldea, Partin added some current sex appeal to his already fatuous story. He now told Moldea that Carlos Marcello contributed a half million to Nixon's campaign in 1968 (Moldea pp. 108, 260). The go-between was Hoffa. Hoffa was also supplying arms to Castro before he took over Cuba (Ibid. p. 107). Waldron and Hartmann use these tales and source them to Moldea-- without telling the reader that the source is Partin! At one point they even refer to this proven liar as a most trusted source. In this day and age, with all we know about Partin, this is academic irresponsibility.
But if Moldea is bad, what can one say about Frank Ragano? Ragano is mentioned many times by Moldea in his Hoffa book. Ragano was an attorney for Hoffa, Marcello and Trafficante. He did this for many years. And during this time, many of these Mafia did it books emerged. But it was not until Oliver Stone's JFK came out that he decided to write about how his three clients conspired to kill President Kennedy. The other curious thing about the timing of Ragano's 1993 book Mob Lawyer, is that he was in trouble with the IRS over back taxes and cried out that he was being persecuted: perhaps for his much delayed broadcast about his clients assassination conspiracy? Or maybe he was just using the delayed expose to plea bargain the charge down? Whatever the case, Ragano made two mistakes in his coming out party. First, he sold Moldea the old chestnut about Jim Garrison's investigation of Clay Shaw being a method to divert attention away from Marcello. I exposed this for the canard it was at the 1994 COPA Conference, and Bill Davy expanded on it in his book, Let Justice Be Done (pgs 149-167). Evidently, Ragano had not done his homework on the issue. And that crack investigative reporter Moldea was not up to checking it out beforehand. (See Ragano's biography at spartacus.schoolnet.) Second, Ragano tried to get cute and was a bit too specific about Trafficante's convenient deathbed confession to him. He said it occurred on March 13, 1987 in Tampa. He says the ailing Don called him and asked him to come down and pick him up. When Ragano arrived to take him for a spin, the dying 72-year-old Mob boss trotted out to the car in pajamas and robe. He told Ragano that he and his underworld cohorts had erred. They should have killed Bobby, not John. His conscience cleansed by his confession to his consigliore, Trafficante passed away a few days later.
Unfortunately for Ragano, Tony Summers checked up on his belatedly revealed tale. According to Summers, who sources several witnesses, Trafficante was living in Miami in March of 1987 and had not been to Tampa for months. He was very ill at the time and was receiving kidney dialysis and carrying a colostomy bag. Further, Summers interviewed at least two witnesses who placed Trafficante in Miami on that day. There are also hospital records that put him in Miami's Mercy Hospital for dialysis treatment on both the day before and the day after the Ragano "confession". And Trafficante's doctor in Tampa said he was not there on March 13th. (Vanity Fair 12/94) Now, from Miami to Tampa is about 280 miles. To think that a 72 year old dying man would drive four hours one way and then four hours back -- between dialysis treatments -- to do something he could have done with a call on a pay phone strains credulity to the breaking point. To postulate that he would fly the distance is just as bad. Did he buy two seats in order to put his colostomy bag next to him? Ragano told Summers he could produce other witnesses. But only if he was sued for libel. Since it is next to impossible for a family to sue for a deceased member over libel, Ragano was being real gutsy.
Another spurious author used extensively in this section is Davis, who they refer to as a "noted historian" (p.264) and later (p. 768) as an "acclaimed historian." (The authors are quite liberal in their use of the term "historian": Tony Summers, Peter Dale Scott, even Tad Szulc are all given the title. Yet none of them are historians.) Others, like Bill Davy and myself have questioned the methodology of this "noted historian". As I once wrote of him, although Davis likes to use a large bibliography to lend weight and academic ballast to his work, he does not footnote his text. And as Davy and I have both pointed out, even the freight of his pretentious bibliography is spurious. In his two books on the JFK assassination, Mafia Kingfish and The Kennedy Contract, Davis listed two primary sources: the transcript of the Clay Shaw trial and 3, 000 pages of CIA documents. He said they were housed at Southeastern Louisiana University at Hammond. Davy checked and I called. They aren't there. (Probe Vol. 5, No.1, p. 9) In that same issue, in discussing his Kennedy biography, Dynasty and Disaster, I showed how Davis distorted his sources to twist words and events into something they do not really mean. And sometimes into the opposite of what they mean. I then demonstrated how his lack of footnoting made this hard to detect for a novice.
But Ultimate Sacrifice ignores all this. The book uses Davis, and even some of the claims that Davy actually addressed head on. For instance: the 7,000-dollar payoff, which Marcello supposedly admitted in his HSCA executive session testimony. The problem here is he actually didn't admit it. (Ibid) Further, Davy and I interviewed U.S. Attorney Jon Volz who was in on the prosecution that put Marcello away. He and his cohorts listened to years of surveillance on Marcello, including the storied "Brilab tapes". Volz told us, "There's nothing on those tapes." (Ibid). In fact, Volz told us that far from the fearsome, all-inspiring Mafia Don Davis makes him out to be, Marcello was kind of slow and dull. Further, Waldron and Hartmann use their "noted historian", to make Marcello an all encompassing Mafia Superman, his Hitlerian reach extending throughout ten states, Central America, the Caribbean and beyond. (Ultimate Sacrifice p. 264). Funny, because Volz told us that, by the time he prosecuted him, Marcello was not even the number one godfather in Louisiana. Anthony Carolla was.
But Waldron and Hartmann need to use Davis to exalt Marcello because they want us to believe, as Davis and Blakey do, that Marcello was reaching through to Oswald through Guy Banister and David Ferrie. Repeatedly, throughout the volume, Ferrie and Banister are referred to as "working for Marcello.". In no other book I have ever encountered have I seen this rubric used with these two men anywhere to the extent it appears here. Further, Banister and Ferrie are pretty much cleaned off of their other well-documented ties to the CIA and the FBI. There is almost no mention of Ferrie's ties to the Bay of Pigs, how he trained Cuban exiles for that operation, how he engineered aquatic equipment like a miniature submarine, how he watched films of the debacle with his friend Sergio Arcacha Smith. There is also no mention of Ferrie's attempts to recruit young men for MONGOOSE. And it's almost the same for Banister. Again, this was an eccentric trend that was started with Blakey and Billings at the end of the HSCA. Ferrie had worked for Wray Gill, one of Marcello's local attorneys. So Blakey shorthanded this into Ferrie working for Marcello. In 1962 and 1963, Ferrie got Banister some investigatory work through his Gill employment. But not even the HSCA and Blakey construed this as Banister being an employee of Marcello. Waldron and Hartmann do this throughout. Again, this is deceptive and journalistically irresponsible. But, as I will show later, its part of a grand design.
But it's not just Marcello who gets the Superman treatment. Apparently modeling themselves on Davis, they attempt to enlarge John Roselli beyond any dimensions I have ever read. Roselli was seen previously as a second tier Mafia figure, right below the top Godfathers who sat on the national council. And his affable demeanor, brains, and facility in conversation made him a good ambassador and envoy for the Cosa Nostra to gain entry into things like the film business and the CIA-Mafia plots. This book goes way beyond that to places I had never seen or imagined. Did you know that Roselli was somehow in on the murder of Castillo Armas in Guatemala in 1957? How about the assassination of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic in 1961? If you can believe it, the dapper, satin shirted, silk tied Roselli was in training with the Cuban exiles at JM/WAVE. He even makes an appearance at Banister's office at 544 Camp Street. Roselli is somehow involved with Marilyn Monroe in a mÈnage a trois with Frank Sinatra and Sam Giancana before she tries to warn the FBI about a Mob hit on RFK. (This whole episode with Monroe has to be read to be believed. Its on pages 405-409.) And with Waldron and Hartmann, its Roselli who introduced Judith Exner to Senator Kennedy, since Roselli is trying to play it safe in the 1960 election (p. 390). And as the Mob plot heats up, he maneuvers her around to somehow monitor JFK.
Except it's not true. Unfortunately, I read Exner's book My Story (see The Assassinations pp. 329-338 for my essay on Exner). In that book, Exner describes her first meeting with Senator Kenendy. She met him through a dinner hosted by Peter Lawford and Frank Sinatra (see pp. 86-89). In that book, contrary to what Ultimate Sacrifice clearly implies, there is not a hint that John Roselli had anything to do with her relations with JFK. In their further aggrandizement of Roselli, they attempt to place him in Dallas on 11/22/63 but they qualify this by saying that none of the sources meet their standard of reliability. (p. 712) But they state the accusation anyway by noting the multiplicity of accounts. Also, according to them, Roselli had no alibi for that day. When I looked up their multiplicity of sources, I smiled and shook my head. The three were James Files, Robert Plumlee, and Chauncey Holt. Gary Aguilar wrote a searing expose on the whole Files affair, which resulted in a rather embarrassing video on the JFK case. (Probe Vol. 3 No. 6 p. 27) Plumlee has been marketing his story for years about flying various people in and out of Dallas before and after the assassination. He figured in one of the early cuts of that video which the producer tried to sell to investors. The late Chauncey Holt was trying to sell himself as one of the three tramps for a number of years. The fact that the authors include these men is critical comment in and of itself.
But even using all these dubious books and authors, with their questionable sources and bibliographies, Waldron and Hartmann still suffer greatly from the "conditional syndrome". That is, something can happen only if something else occurs i.e. the contingency or assumption factor. To give the reader a representative sample:
- If Roselli had told David Morales that Ruby would be helpful in the fall 1963 CIA-Mafia plot, Morales would have had no reason to doubt him. (565)
- It is possible that the call was related to Oswald...or a trip Ruby would soon make to Chicago... (566)
- And even on November 1, Ferrie might have flown to Chicago instead of back to New Orleans, if the Chicago assassination plan had not been uncovered ...(577)
- Phillips was saying that about Oswald in the context of an autobiographical novel, but it could indicate that the CIA's "plan we had devised against Castro" was similar to the way JFK was killed. (p. 580)
- The sad thing is that the Mafia may have taken the very plan that the CIA had intended to use against Castro...and used it instead to kill JFK in an open limousine. That could account for the comments of Bobby and David Atlee Phillips after JFK's death. (P. 581)
And my favorite:
- Morales probably engaged in business with Trafficante associate John Martino in the years after JFK's death. On the other hand, Morales may have simply provided help and information to Roselli during his nighttime drinking binges. (p. 584, italics are mine in all excerpts)
I am reminded of Cyril Wecht's response to one of Michael Baden's inventive rationales for the single bullet theory: "Yeah, and if my mother had a penis she'd be my father." The book is literally strewn with these kinds of "would have" "could have" "might have" scenarios. In the sample above, I culled from a span of 20 pages and I cited six passages, leaving at least one other one out. Go ahead and do the math for a text of 786 pages. There must be well into the hundreds of these Rumsfeldian "unkown unknowns" populating this book-- like autumn leaves in a Pennsylvania backyard. When I wrote my introduction to Bill Davy's fine work, Let Justice Be Done, I noted that one of its qualities is the author used very few of these types of clauses. He didn't have to. I also noted that the Mafia theory advocates were noted for these kinds of contingency phrases. Since Ultimate Sacrifice is essentially the "Mega Mob Did It" opus, it amplifies the usage of them exponentially. Which leaves one to ask: If you need so many of these clauses then what is the real value of the book and its research?
Hand in glove with the above feature is the "he had dinner with him" syndrome. Peter Dale Scott's works were rich in this kind of thing and then Robert Blakey brought it to new heights in the field. Waldron and Hartmann continue in this tradition.
- Back in Dallas on Thursday evening November 20, Ruby had dinner with ... Ralph Paul. Paul was associated with Austin's Bar-B-Cue, where one of the part-time security guards was policeman J. D. Tippit. (p. 713)
- The Teamster organizer was an associate of Frank Chavez, linked to Jack Ruby by FBI reports. (p. 740)
- Ruby called the home of friend Gordon McLendon, owner of KLIF radio, who was close to David Atlee Phillips and had a connection to Marcello. (747)
If you use the sources the authors use, and a lot of conditional phrasing, and you make the connections as oblique and inconsequential as a Bar-B-Cue pit, then you can just about connect almost anything and anyone. Sort of like the Six Degrees of Separation concept. You can even come close to duplicating that masterpiece of disinformation, Nomenclature of an Assassination Cabal, aka The Torbitt Document (which is not a document and is therefore even deceptive in its nickname.) The point is that now, with the work of the ARRB, we don't need to do this anymore. Waldron and Hartmann want to take us back to the Torbitt days.
In this middle section of the book, which allegedly describes the plotting of the assassination, appear some of the most bizarre statements and chapters I have encountered in the JFK library of books. Which is saying a lot. After reading chapters 29-31, I actually wrote in my notes, "The preceding three chapters are three of the most ridiculous I have ever read in the literature."
But that is par for the course in this book. Did you know that:
- Guy Banister joined the plot because he was a segregationist. (pp. 457-458)
- John Roselli personally met RFK in Miami prior to the Missile Crisis. (This is on pp 408-409 and comes via Moldea and the incontinent Gerry Hemming.)
- The USA continued to support the corrupt and brutal Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua because the Somozas knew too much about C-Day. ( p.158)
- Banister encountered Oswald in New Orleans in the first quarter of 1963 and relayed the information that he would be a perfect patsy for JFK to Marcello. (p. 456)
- Hoffa attempted to actually strangle RFK to death with his bare hands in a Justice Department office. (p. 430)
- Marilyn Monroe committed suicide because the Mob was pressuring her to blackmail RFK. (p. 407)
- In 1963 Oswald was about to announce to the nation his undercover role in an effort to achieve dÈtente between the Soviet Union and America. (p. 458, 463)
- Senator Thomas Dodd was above reproach. (p. 462.)
- It was Banister who got Oswald to take a shot at Edwin Walker in an attempt to get publicity for a white supremacist ally. (p. 467)
- The Mafia arranged for Antonio Veciana to meet with Oswald and Phillips in 1963. (p. 485)
These are all strained at best. And some -- like the Nicaragua charge -- are jocular. Some fly in the face of direct evidence. (For the case against Dodd for instance, see Probe Vol. 3 No. 5, Vol. 3 No. 6, and Vol. 6 No.2, plus Bob Tanenbaum's novel Corruption of Blood for his own suspicions of the man.) In the face of all this the idea that Dodd is "beyond reproach" is goofy.
Part Three of Ultimate Sacrifice deals with the attempts on President Kennedy's life in Chicago and Tampa, the assassination in Dallas, the ensuing cover-ups of the assassination and C-Day, and the effects of all this for the country. Waldron and Hartmann lend great import to Chicago and Tampa and depict them both as being Mob-oriented, and later of being covered up because of some revelations about C-Day. The evidence about the latter is pretty much diaphanous. But some of the circumstances surrounding the Chicago attempt are interesting. And what the authors do with them is even more so.
The authors declare that their treatment of the Chicago attempt is the most extensive yet. Whether it is or isn't, it is almost indecipherable. Through their usual tortuous logic and maneuvering, they somehow get Michael Mertz on the scene (with the help of the always useful Gerry Hemming.) They attempt to link the man who was being set up, Thomas A. Vallee, to John Martino, simply because Valle had once been a member of the John Birch Society and Martino was part of their Speaker's Bureau. (p. 630) They conclude that Trafficante, Roselli and Marcello were behind the whole thing and Richard Cain was in on the cover up. The book cites former Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden who says that two of the suspected four man hit team were named Rodriguez and Gonzalez. They then surmise that those Hispanic names are important because those were two names of members in the Tampa branch of the FPCC. Which, in a spellbinding leap of logic, they connect to the Chicago attempt. (p. 625)
One of the major sources that Ultimate Sacrifice uses for the two chapters on Chicago is a writer named Edwin Black. Today, Edwin Black is an illustrious author of several famous books like War on the Weak, which is about how famous philanthropies sponsored eugenics experiments in America, and The Transfer Agreement, which is about the founding of the Israeli state. .
Unlike Ultimate Sacrifice, if you read Black, you get the idea that the Secret Service actually did a fair job once they were tipped off. Even though understaffed, they got help from the local police and did a quick job in apprehending Vallee and rolling up part of the cell. All of this was done before JFK's scheduled arrival (which was eventually cancelled). Another difference is that although Bolden is a major source for Black, there is no mention of the two surnames, Gonzalez and Rodriguez. And then there are the important things Black discovered which Ultimate Sacrifice leaves out. Consider:
- Like Oswald, Vallee was a former Marine who was stationed at a U-2 base in Japan. (Black, p. 5)
- Like Oswald, the cover unit for Vallee's probable CIA recruitment was something called Joint Technical Advisory Group.(ibid)
- Vallee had spoken bitterly of JFK, "We lost a lot of good men at the Bay of Pigs. (Ibid. p. 6)
- One of the men who arrested him, Dan Groth, was suspected of being a CIA undercover agent. And Groth inexplicably left off his arrest report the fact that Vallee had 750 rounds of live ammo in the trunk of his car. Further he said his notation of "M-1 rifle" on the report was a typo. This was one reason why Vallee could not be detained, since the charge for pulling him over -- which was nothing but a pretext--was a minor traffic infraction. (Ibid p. 31)
But the most startling thing Ultimate Sacrifice leaves out is the codename of the original FBI informant who tipped off the Secret Service. It was "Lee". (Black, p. 5)
Instead of all the Sturm und Drang Ultimate Sacrifice presents, if one reads Black one could conclude that Oswald was doing in Chicago what he did in New Orleans. As revealed later by FBI worker William Walter, although Oswald was serving as a CIA agent provocateur, he was also a likely informant for the FBI. And in the milieu he worked -- the CIA and rightwing sponsored Cuban exile community -- he tipped off the Bureau as to a plot he heard concerning the murder of JFK in Dallas. According to Black, he may have done it in Chicago also. One could also conclude that Groth screwed up his arrest report so that Vallee could not be thoroughly interrogated. And finally, Black adds that while he was pursuing his inquiry into the Chicago attempt, he was followed and investigated not by the Mafia, but by the DIA. (Black, p. 3)
Until I read this book I did not know Black had written about the Kennedy assassination. Jim Douglass, who contributed to The Assassinations, pointed something out to me. Although Ultimate Sacrifice uses Edwin Black, you could never locate his original work from it. For if you try and match up the mentions of his name and use of his material in the text to the footnotes, you will discover something puzzling. Namely, you can't. The authors footnote Edwin Black's work to a man named George Black and to George Black's book entitled The Good Neighbor. When you find The Good Neighbor, you will see that there is nothing in it about President Kennedy's assassination. The book is about US foreign policy in Central America. Douglass, who is writing his own book on the JFK case, sent me Edwin Black's actual essay on Chicago. That long essay was the cover story of a periodical titled Chicago Independent dated November 1975, which was edited by Black and his wife. You won't find this essay in the footnotes in the two chapters about Chicago in Ultimate Sacrifice. To dismiss this mismatching as all a mistake one must believe the following:
- Waldron and Hartmann confused two completely different authors
- They confused two completely different subjects
- They mistook a book for a magazine article.
One other aspect of this scholarly failure puzzles me. Waldron and Hartmann have about eleven footnotes to George Black's book. Not one of them cites a page number. Probably because they can't. Try and find another book they use for multiple but blind citations. The reason I find this all so bracing is that when I read Edwin Black's essay I was struck by how clear it was compared to Ultimate Sacrifice, how different the interpretation of events was, and -- as I have shown here -- the crucial things what Waldron and Hartmann leave out. Ninety nine percent--or more--of the book's readership can't really conclude this or see the difference in the two treatments. When one does see the difference one has to at least postulate that the authors of Ultimate Sacrifice didn't want you to find Edwin Black's essay. Why?
The work on the alleged Mob oriented Tampa plot directly follows the two chapters on Chicago. It begins with the rather hoary Joseph Milteer-William Somersett taped conversation. Somersett was an FBI informant who recorded his calls with Milteer. Milteer was a moderately well off southern racist who was associated with the extremist anti-civil rights group the National States Rights Party (NSRP). Somersett shared his beliefs but was against the use of violence to achieve them. On the tape, Milteer talks about a possible scenario for killing Kennedy with a high-powered rifle from a tall building.
To say the least, it is problematic to use Milteer for the Tampa scenario since according to many sources (Henry Hurt, Michael Benson, Anthony Summers), if Milteer is talking about any location on the tape, it is Miami not Tampa. Further, Milteer had no detectable ties to the Mafia. But that doesn't daunt our authors. They again use their Six Degrees of Separation technique. See, Milteer's group had ties to associates of Guy Banister. And remember, Banister was doing work for Marcello. So that takes care of that. After utilizing this technique, the authors then shift into another one of their hundreds of "conditional syndrome" phraseologies:
- Banister likely would have used Milteer in a supporting role for the JFK plot...Milteer himself would have made a logical person to take some of the blame if needed, given his far right credentials and public anti-Kennedy stance. (p. 662)
They go on to write that Milteer could have even been used as a linkage to Vallee in Chicago. (Ibid.) Six Degrees is one handy tool to have at hand.
The main Mafioso they link to Tampa is, of course, Trafficante. They use former Tampa police Chief J. P. Mullins, who has since died, as a source. Apparently, they never talked to Florida Department of Law Enforcement special agent Ken Sanz who is alive and an authority on Trafficante. He told the St. Petersburg Times (11/23/05) that he never heard of Trafficante's involvement in the affair. Even though he has done years of research on Trafficante and is serving as a consultant to a book on the man.
Between the two attempts on JFK, the authors interpolate a chapter on President Kennedy's speech in Miami on November 18th. They say that part of the address was supposed to be aimed at the C-Day leader as a note of encouragement that the operation was ongoing. Oddly, they do not quote or paraphrase here that part of the speech under discussion. Basically, Kennedy said that Castro and his crowd had made Cuba into a victim of foreign imperialism, meaning the Russians. And that they together were now trying to expand revolution into South America. He then added:
This, and this alone, divides us. As long as this is true, nothing is possible, without it, everything is possible. Once this barrier is removed, we will be ready...to work with the Cuban people in pursuit of the progressive goals which a few short years ago stirred the...sympathy of many people throughout the hemisphere.
Now, some of the Kennedy people who worked on the speech were Arthur Schlesinger and Dick Goodwin. The authors quote Schlesinger as saying that only Kennedy's staff had input into the speech. But then, Waldron and Hartmann bring a contradicting author on stage. It is Seymour Hersh and his hatchet job of a book The Dark Side of Camelot. They use this book to say that the CIA and Desmond Fitzgerald had a hand in the paragraph above. They footnote Hersh on this, but they give no page number for the reference. When you find the material in Hersh's book, you will see that he is not even talking about the same speech. (Hersh, p. 440) He is writing about an address President Kennedy gave in Palm Beach ten days earlier. Hersh's source is a former investigator for the Church Committee who is quoting a former CIA liaison to the committee. Further, the original source, Seymour Bolton, died in 1985 (Hersh's book is full of second hand sources quoting deceased acquaintances.) If one studies the work of CIA liaisons with congressional inquiries one understands their purpose is to do one thing: protect the CIA at all costs. In this instance Bolton was trying to sell the Church Committee on the idea that the paragraph was inserted by CIA officer Desmond Fitzgerald as a message to Rolando Cubela, a CIA asset in Cuba who the Agency had enlisted to kill Castro. Cubela was not the coup leader. So Ultimate Sacrifice shifts both the speech and the alleged target of the message. So how do they show in this chapter that the speech was a message to the coup leader? Or maybe they were thinking no one would notice these things?
But it's actually worse than that. If one looks at the passage, does it not sound as if Kennedy is saying that he just wants Castro and Che Guevara to abstain from exporting Marxist revolution into South America? And if this would stop, the USA and Cuba could then establish a dÈtente? And that jibes with what Kennedy was trying to do through his triple back channel of Lisa Howard, William Attwood, and Jean Daniel. (Which, interestingly enough, the authors try to discount in this very chapter on page 670. Probably to make their unsupported scenario more palatable.) If we look at the passage in that way, then Kennedy's special envoy Attwood can shed some valuable light on the Miami address:
- It was intended to help me by signaling to Castro that normalization was possible if Cuba simply stopped doing the Kremlin's work in Latin America (such as trying to sabotage -- vainly as it turned out -- the upcoming Venezuelan elections). (Attwood, The Twilight Struggle, p. 262)
This concept of the speech, that it was an olive branch extended to Castro and not a war overture to Cubela--or whomever Waldron and Hartmann are referring to--is echoed in an article by Daniel published shortly after the assassination entitled "Unofficial Envoy" (The New Republic 12/14/63 ). And his information was from the most primary source of all: JFK himself.
Now, if we are not blinded by the likes of Sy Hersh and Seymour Bolton, we should note Attwood's mention of the upcoming Venezuelan elections. We should also note the date of the Miami speech, and also the date of the Richard Helms anecdote about the Venezuela arms cache that I mentioned earlier. The speech was on November 18th. Helms went to see Robert Kennedy and the president the next day with his phony story about the arms caches sent by Castro to Venezuela, a country that Attwood says JFK was worried about Cuba interfering in. Doesn't it seem more likely that Helms and Fitzgerald were trying to force Kennedy into backing up the very words he had delivered the night before? Helms is figuratively telling JFK: "This is what you warned Castro about last night Mr. President. And look, today we discover he is doing just what you warned him not to do. What are you going to do about it? We have to do something. " Far from sharing this C-Day agenda about Cuba, it would seem to me that the CIA was trying to get inside this overture for dÈtente, in order to take advantage of it and snuff it out just as it got rolling.
And this is a real problem with the book, its handling of the CIA. I never thought I would see a book about the JFK case that would vouch for the honesty of Richard Helms. But this one tries to ( pp. 44-45). About the only guy with less credibility than Helms on the assassination would be David Phillips. But Ultimate Sacrifice tries to rehabilitate Phillips' words and writings on the JFK case (p. 562). And they even go beyond that. It tries to say that the things he did, he didn't really do. Why? Because he did them without knowing he was being manipulated by the likes of Banister and the Mob. I'm not kidding:
- By having Oswald use the FPCC and build a very public (and well-documented) pro-Castro cover ... Phillips played right into the hands of Banister and others planning JFK's assassination ... (p. 473)
By no means is this the only place they serve as defense attorneys for Phillips. They do it at least four other times (pp. 241, 509, 531, 532). Poor Dave, flying from JM/WAVE, to Mexico City, to Langley. He was so busy he didn't realize that his street operative Banister was setting him up the whole time. What a fool.
When David Talbot reviewed the book (all too kindly) in Salon, he pointed out this clear aspect of the work: the authors' defense tract for the Agency. Waldron and Hartmann wrote Talbot to defend themselves:
- ... our book exposes Mafia-compromised CIA assets, extensive CIA intelligence failures, unauthorized operations, and the stonewalling of Robert Kennedy and government committees by certain CIA officials -- all under the veil of secrecy covering AM/WORLD.
In other words, they issued a non-denial denial. I like that: e.g. Clay Shaw and Ferrie manipulating Oswald in Clinton-Jackson was one of many "CIA intelligence failures". I like even better the phrase "Mafia-compromised CIA assets". See, Ferrie and Banister were working with Marcello, not the CIA. And this device is probably the reason that the book barely mentions Shaw, and amazingly, does not mention at all Ruth and Michael Paine. It would have been tough, even for these inventive authors, to make them into "Mafia-compromised" figures in the landscape.
But the problem with the non-denial denial is that the authors cannot deny their book. To list every instance where they try to immunize the CIA would literally take pages. But how's this for starters:
- Later chapters show how some of those CIA assets were unknowingly manipulated by the Mafia in their plot to assassinate JFK. (p. 51)
- More than anything, the CIA's decades-long organizational cover up was designed to hide intelligence failures and protect reputations...(p.59)
- Just because certain names have been linked to C-Day...It does not mean that any particular CIA officials were knowingly involved in JFK's assassination. (p. 62)
- Phillips and the CIA had their own agenda for Oswald, an agenda that had nothing to do with JFK's assassination. (p. 173)
- Harry Williams told us which one of the C-Day participants he felt was knowingly involved in JFK's assassination (and it was not someone like E. Howard Hunt or James McCord)...(p. 187)
- The Dallas meeting between Oswald and David Atlee Phillips probably eliminates Phillips from knowingly being involved in JFK's assassination...(p. 531)
And on and on and on. There must be at least 20 such passages in the book. But the one that takes the cake is this:
- Two months later, when Ms. Odio saw Oswald on TV after JFK's assassination, she fainted ... That was exactly what the Mafia wanted ... (p. 164)
When I read that, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Or do both and go bipolar. To her everlasting credit, when Sylvia Meagher examined the Odio incident four decades ago, she postulated that it showed a conspiracy between the Cuban exiles, the CIA, and elements of the reactionary right (Accessories After the Fact pgs 384-86). But according to Ultimate Sacrifice, the poor deluded lady was wrong. And we are all lost sheep. Why? Because we either didn't know or ignored the incredibly powerful fact that Rolando Masferer's brother lived in Odio's complex. And Masferer -- you guessed it -- knew a couple of mobsters. What do the authors leave out? That many Cuban exiles lived in that complex, and that you could have picked out others who had relations to every group that was funding anti-Castro operations.
What I have described with the Odio incident is absolutely systematic throughout the book. Especially in a section called "Three Oswald Riddles". For instance, the authors write that Oswald did actually order the rifle, but probably at the behest of someone working for the Mafia (p. 460). And somehow Richard Cain would get the info into the media after the fact. (p. 465) The problem with that wild and irresponsibly speculative scenario is that today, due to people like Raymond Gallagher, (Probe Vol. 5 No. 6, p. 10) and especially John Armstrong, we can show that it is highly doubtful that Oswald ever ordered that rifle. In a tour de force performance in his book Harvey and Lee, Armstrong demonstrates, almost beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Oswald could not have ordered the rifle. (pgs 438-487) And he shows that-guess what-the people who manufactured the phony evidence afterwards weren't mobsters.
This consistent pattern of distorting, smudging, and obfuscating good evidence in favor of amorphous, and sometimes non-existent, Mafia "connections" has one of its highlights in Mexico City. Ignoring all the questions about entrance and exit into the country (see for example my first book Destiny Betrayed p. 264) Ultimate Sacrifice maintains that Oswald really did go to Mexico and onward to Mexico City. (p. 540) Ignoring the problems with the sign-in sheet at the hotel (DiEugenio op. cit. ), they further believe that Oswald stayed in Mexico City. And further, they say it was him at both the Cuban and Soviet consulates. Now to go into all the disputes about what the witnesses who saw him say the person who was there looked like would take several pages (for a decent summary see Tony Summers, Conspiracy pgs 343-352). But the capper for me is that they say he was there actually trying to get to Cuba! (In aid of C-Day of course.) Now many authors have noted the scene he created, what a nuisance he was, how truculent he was in attitude. How him raising his voice caused others to look around and even come out of their cubicles. How he didn't even seem to know the right protocol to get a visa. How his calls to the Soviet Embassy arrived on the wrong day or during times when the staff was not there. Even Castro commented later that anyone trying to get to Cuba does not do what Oswald did. Again, Waldron and Hartmann either ignore all this or try to explain it away. And the only way to explain this obtuse balderdash in Ultimate Sacrifice is in light of the authors' previous comments about Phillips. They are trying to get him (and his assistant Ann Goodpasture) off the hook about their manipulation of an Oswald imposter in Mexico City. Further, they wish to disguise how the CIA used the incident to 1.) frame Oswald, and 2.) force President Johnson into a cover up after the fact.
Although I had hints about what Ultimate Sacrifice was up to before this, when I read this section the proverbial light went on in my head. And the light spelled out the name of Robert Blakey. Let me explain the clear parallel. As writers like Gaeton Fonzi and myself have pointed out, Blakey had a problem at the end of the HSCA inquiry. His committee had turned up a lot of evidence showing that the CIA was involved in the conspiracy, and also that the military had covered up that fact with the autopsy. How did Blakey solve that problem? He dismissed most of the investigators and kept a small coterie of trusted associates to write the Final Report and edit the published volumes. In that report, and in the volumes, he did all he could to minimize any CIA involvement and to disguise the true facts of the autopsy. He then stowed away a massive amount of raw evidence, much more than the Warren Commission did.
This worked for awhile. It fell apart when the Assassination Records Review Board began to declassify much of the hidden record. People like Gary Aguilar and David Mantik began to expose how Blakey had hidden what really happened in Bethesda. John Newman and Bill Davy began to delve into the new revelations about Mexico City and New Orleans. I wrote an article with these new documents to indicate what Blakey had done. (See The Assassinations pp. 51-89) In other words, the cat was out of the bag.
What Ultimate Sacrifice tries to do is put the cat back in the bag. It tries to repeat what Blakey did. It says: All this striking, powerful new evidence the ARRB released is not what you think. You say the military deliberately disguised the autopsy and may have forged the x-rays? You're wrong. Bobby Kennedy controlled the autopsy. You think the Lopez Report on Mexico City says an Oswald imposter was there under the control of David Phillips? Wrong again, its C-Day and Richard Cain. You read Fonzi's The Last Investigation and think the Odio incident is a more powerful indicator now of CIA and CIA affiliated Cuban exile involvement? Wrong once more, you fool. That's just what Roselli and the Mafia wanted you to think.
But if we are all fools, that leaves the question Talbot asked: Why would the Mafia kill JFK if they knew he was going into Cuba in a few days? Did they not want back into the island to get their hotels and casinos back? The authors answered this in their letter to him by saying, "...the Kennedys tried to exclude the Mafia from any involvement in the coup plan, and any involvement in Cuba after the coup." Like almost every aspect of the book, this is preposterous. Concerning the first contention, that the Kennedys excluded the Mob from the plan: Really? You mean RFK didn't call up Giancana and say, "Hey Sam, we're going into Cuba on December 1st. Meet me then in Havana at the Tropicana and I'll sell you your hotels back." About the latter part, keeping them out of the liberated Cuba: How would it be possible to ensure that the Mafia would be kept off the island? Did the Kennedys plan on occupying every square mile of the place with a 150,000 man army and protecting the long shoreline with a naval armada indefinitely? Would they do background checks on every Cuban on the island and every one coming in to see they had no ties to the Mafia? (This in the days before computers.) Even though two of the alleged coup leaders, Varona and Artime, already had ties to the Mob? But this is the kind of thing one has to swallow to accept this abomination of a book.
One of the most puzzling things about Ultimate Sacrifice is that some have actually taken it seriously. Peter Scott has said it is well documented. My question to Peter: Well-documented with what? Frank Ragano and Ed Partin? If you don't analyze the footnotes you might be impressed. Unfortunately for my mental health, I did so I'm not impressed. Vince Palamara has gone on Amazon.com to praise the book as one of the best ever written on the case. Vince is supposed to be an authority on the Secret Service. Did he not notice what the authors did with Edwin Black's seminal essay on Chicago? That people like this, and others, could be bamboozled by a dreadful and pretentious pastiche shows how rudderless the research community has become.
When Gus Russo introduced Lamar Waldron in Dallas many years ago, he clearly meant him to be the fair-haired Luke Skywalker, rescuing the Jedi research community from the hordes of the Galactic Empire. What many didn't recall, then or later, was that Luke Skywalker's father turned out to be Darth Vader.