Monday, 11 November 2013 21:46

When Tony Summers Fell in Love with Patricia Lambert

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Jim DiEugenio writes of how the author of what was a good book on the JFK case when it first came out has subsequently held less tenable views of both John Kennedy and his assassination, and how he blindly jettisons Garrison's achievements.


A long time ago, Anthony Summers wrote a good book on the JFK case. It was called, appropriately enough, Conspiracy. In fact, since I have not updated my Top Ten JFK Books of late [2013], I still list it as one of the best books in the field. (I will update that list soon and probably will add two books to it. Which means two will be removed.) Conspiracy posited a plot between the Mob, the CIA and Cuban exiles to kill President Kennedy. For its time, 1981, the book took in a large amount of space. Summers had talked to a lot of people and had ties to several House Select Committee on Assassinations staffers, including the last chief counsel Robert Blakey.

Although the late Gaeton Fonzi liked that first version of Summers' book, in a summary critique of the publisher's proofs, he made some cogent criticisms. One of them was that he thought Conspiracy overplayed the role of the Mob in the murder of Kennedy. Always gracious and understanding, Fonzi excused this fault by saying that Summers was clearly following the HSCA line as outlined by Blakey. Fonzi actually had seen what had happened to the HSCA after Richard Sprague left and Blakey took the job as Chief Counsel. In his wonderful book, The Last Investigation, Fonzi is at pains to show what a difference there was in the approaches of the two chief counsels. In fact, this is one of the key attributes of that sterling tome. It is a serious failing of Conspiracy. Because Summers tells the reader very little about what happened to the HSCA as a result of the change in leadership. And that's not good. Because, as Fonzi reveals, Blakey had his Mob theory mapped out from the very beginning of his tenure. That is, when he was first recruiting personnel to staff his version of the committee. (Fonzi, p. 256) This is an important piece of information that should have guided Summers as he wrote his book. Apparently, he was not aware of it. Or if he was, he ignored it.

Then, something odd happened to Conspiracy. In its later reissues, Summers changed the title of the book. The new title was Not in Your Lifetime. This signified what literary types would call a semiotic change. Because those four words were taken from Chief Justice Earl Warren's famous comment to a reporter about when all the data from the Warren Commission would be made available to the public. Warren famously replied, with words to the effect, there may come a time, but it would be after they were both dead. In other words, no one around when he spoke would live to see all the information. I personally thought this title change was inexplicable. The first title seemed to represent the book's thesis. But now Summers was backtracking to safer ground. I couldn't really understand why.

As time went on, I got an idea as to why. In 1993, Summers, along with Gus Russo and Dale Myers, served as consultants on the late Mike Sullivan's weird PBS Frontline show, "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?" To his credit, Summers eventually asked that his name to be taken off the program. But he certainly stayed involved for a long time. Way after it became obvious as to what Russo and Myers had become. And in fact, on July 25th of this year Dale Myers revealed something at his "Secrets of a Homicide" blog that makes the mystery of why Summers stuck it out so long even more puzzling. Myers and Russo had always intimated that this program was done in a completely open ended manner. That is, there was no slant to it upon the inception of the production. Well, when Sullivan died Myers could not resist saluting him for letting him appear on television. Along the way, in an interview with Gus Russo, Myers blew open the cover story about that program. Russo said that far from being an honest and open-ended program that proceeded inductively, this was not Sullivan's plan at all. Russo said "Sullivan suggested we start with finding out who pulled the trigger in Dallas first and work backward from there to find out if anyone else was involved." In other words, the show started with a deduction and proceeded from there. That deduction was that Oswald shot Kennedy, and there may have been a second shooter. In light of that very late revelation, we should not admire Summers for eventually having his name taken off the show. Instead, we should ask: Why did he stick around at all? We shall see why.

In that same anniversary year, Summers sent out letters to researchers asking them for new developments in the JFK case. He was prepping an article for Vanity Fair. That article, which appeared in December of 1994, turned out to be an interesting piece of work. In more than one way.

At the beginning, Summers and his wife Robbyn Swann made some rather revealing and self-serving remarks. On the very first page, in the banner, the article said that the Assassination Records Review Board was at work and "more than two million classified documents on the assassination have been released". Since the Review Board has just starting up at that time, and many of the released documents had been delayed with tags specifying future review, this seemed like an exaggeration, or perhaps a projection. Because the process was just beginning to play out and the endgame was not anywhere in sight. For example, the HSCA Mexico City Report, aka the Lopez Report, had not yet been fully declassified. But further, according to the Board's Final Report, it was not 2 million documents which had been declassified, it was two million pages of documents. Which makes for a big difference.

Secondly, the husband-wife pair could not resist taking rhetorical shots at the two people responsible for the creation of the ARRB. That is, Jim Garrison and Oliver Stone. On the first page of the essay, this sentence appears: "In 1967 the case was muddied by the follies of New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison, who claimed to have uncovered a plot hatched by the military and intelligence power elite." Not satisfied with that, on the next page, this sentence appears: "Oliver Stone's 1991 movie JFK was a dubious piece of scaremongering..." And then a few pages after that, there is another revealing comment which showed that Summers, years later, had not changed his mind about the Robert Blakey paradigm. The couple write that, "The most durable conspiracy theory is that the mafia killed the president." That statement was so far from the state of the research that to call it an outlier is being too kind.

But the very next passage tells us even more about the writing duo. In referring to Judith Exner, and calling her "believable" (which is the last word I would use to describe her), the article foreshadows a story to be recycled by both Seymour Hersh, and then Peter Jennings, in his 1998 TV special Dangerous World. Namely that presidential candidate Kennedy sent Exner to Chicago with a briefcase full of money for Sam Giancana. The corroborating source for this fantastic story ended up being a man named Martin Underwood, who used to work for Mayor Richard Daley. The ARRB investigated this tale, and another one attributed to Underwood, namely that Cuban G2 chief Fabian Escalante was somehow in Dallas the day Kennedy was killed. Underwood had been pushed on the ARRB by none other than Summers' recent research partner Gus Russo. To put it mildly, when questioned under oath by the ARRB, Underwood would not substantiate the stories . (See ARRB Final Report, pgs. 112, and 135-36) In this case, Summers and Swann would have been better served had they waited until the Review Board was done with its work instead of just starting. They then would have seen that Exner was not "believable". But this eagerness for falling for these phony character assassination stories became a hallmark of the duo. For, according to Lisa Pease, Summers' wife actually volunteered to be chief researcher for the late David Heymann's bizarre biography of Robert Kennedy. (E mail communication of November 1, 2013) Which is really kind of startling considering who and what Heymann was, and the kind of writing he represented. (Click here.) There will be a long expose about Heymann's dishonest writing techniques published in the near future by a journalist who actually has researched his sources and archives. Suffice it to say, it will not be flattering to his memory.

This leads us to another problem that the writer later developed with Summers' work: his exclusive focus on Cuba as the key to the murder. Summers was so obsessive about this point that he actually ridiculed any idea that Kennedy's assassination could be related to anything else, e.g. Vietnam. Because in March of 1992, David Talbot was editing a supplement to the San Francisco Examiner. On the eve of the Oscars program, in which JFK was nominated for many awards, he consulted with Summers about the concepts behind the film. One of which was that President Kennedy was killed as a result of his intent to pull American advisors out of Vietnam. Summers was eager to jump aboard the bandwagon criticizing the film. Talbot quoted him as saying, "There is as much evidence that JFK was shot because of his Vietnam policy as that he was done in by a jealous mistress with a bow and arrow." What makes that statement so surprising is that there had been earlier work done on this subject by both Peter Scott and Fletcher Prouty. And it had been around for years. Further, John Newman's masterly book on the subject, JFK and Vietnam, had been published in December of the previous year. Summers had four months to read it. Apparently, without doing any research, he knew better than to read it. But to any objective reader, Newman made a strong and scholarly case that, against the military's wishes, Kennedy was doing just what the film said he was: withdrawing from Vietnam. And further, that this policy was reversed by Lyndon Johnson, who had opposed it from 1961. Newman's book was so effective, and the ARRB releases on the subject so compelling, that we now have a short bookshelf full of volumes that certify this as fact. And this was very helpful in helping to define Kennedy's foreign policy on a broader scale, and also those who opposed it. In other words it began to give us a fuller picture of his presidency and who he was. Yet, if one looks at the index to the 1991 version of Conspiracy, one will note that there are no references to the subject of Vietnam. Funny, because that guy who's "follies muddied up the case", Jim Garrison, did think that there was a relationship between Kennedy's Vietnam policy and his death. And he thought that many years previous to Newman. It turns out that Summers was wrong in that regard. Garrison was not "muddying up" anything. He was actually being prophetic.

Another specious statement in the Vanity Fair article is this one: "A mounting body of testimony suggests that the Kennedy brothers approved the plots to murder Castro." What is this "mounting body of evidence?" It is actually a Summers/Swann mirage. There is one unnamed Cuban, and, of all people, Manuel Artime, Howard Hunt's figuratively adopted son, and then former Florida senator George Smathers. In the last case, the authors fail to mention that Smathers changed his story about this issue after he testified to the Church Committee. In that earlier interview, Smathers had claimed that Kennedy was violently opposed to anyone even bringing up the subject of assassination. (See The Assassinations, edited by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, pgs. 327-29) After he was gotten to by rightwing political operative Lucianna Goldberg, Smathers changed his tune. But beyond that, and much more pertinent, the ARRB fully declassified the secret CIA Inspector General Report on the subject. In an appendix, the Agency admitted that they could not claim executive approval for the plots. Again, if the authors had waited, the cause of truth would have been better served.

But the above points out two overall themes of the Summers/Swann work on the subject. First, a penchant for smearing Kennedy with any dubious evidence available. And second, a tendency to keep the subject matter of the crime confined to where the HSCA left it. And with only those overtones applied to the subject, i.e. the Mob, and Cuba. To use a differing and more current example, Jim Douglass, in his admirable JFK and the Unspeakable, attempted to break out of this straitjacket. That is, he tried to show that the cause of Kennedy's murder was not just Cuba. Further, it was not just Vietnam. It was about both those things and more. And, in fact, there is a growing line of scholarly work on this subject that has tried to break through the Summers/Swann dated and artificial confinement. Authors like Douglass, Donald Gibson, Richard Mahoney, Philip Muehlenbeck and Robert Rakove have all tried to further reveal the Kennedy record in other areas of opposition to the Power Elite. The net result of their work indicates that Kennedy was not just in conflict with the Mob, the CIA and Cuban exiles over Cuba. Not by a long shot. The range of opposition was much larger than that. And there was much more on the table than just Cuba. In fact, there are even some observers today who think that Cuba was not even the real motive for the crime. But in the face of all this new information by new authors, Summers and Swann remain locked in their 1981 time capsule. They have updated little or nothing on the international scene. Which in light of all the above, seems both narrow-minded and a bit lazy.

II

In fact, from reading this reissue, there is little evidence that Summers has done any extensive work with the new releases of the ARRB. Why do I say that?. To make a point of comparison, when this writer reissued his book Destiny Betrayed last year, that book was about 90% completely rewritten. There was no other way to write it and be honest with the reader. For the simple reason that the over 2 million pages that had now been declassified had altered the main subjects of the book. Which were Kennedy's foreign policy, Lee Harvey Oswald, the Jim Garrison inquiry, and the apparatus arrayed to stop Garrison from succeeding. In fact, the book was so different that it really should have been retitled.

One cannot say that about Not in Your Lifetime. In fact, one could cogently argue the opposite. Namely that the earlier versions of the book are actually better. Why? Because Tony Summers has given into his long evident proclivity to be in the spotlight. He understands that one way to do this is to, as he did with Talbot, bash Jim Garrison. In any way possible. Therefore, in an earlier edition of the book, Summers actually repeated the specious information in a CIA memorandum that Garrison had met with John Roselli in Las Vegas. In a private letter Garrison said that he would not know Roselli if he saw him. In his Church Committee testimony Roselli said the same about Garrison. (E mail communication with Joan Mellen, November 5, 2013) Evidently, Summers did not think it prudent to check on such a charge before printing it.

Another related point is the complete reluctance to review any of the abundant new evidence the ARRB has declassified revealing the multiplicity of means which the CIA and FBI employed to cripple Garrison's inquiry right from the start. This included the employment of double agents in his camp, electronic surveillance by Allen Dulles' personal agent Gordon Novel, the interference run by CIA lawyers to make sure certain witnesses would not be returned to New Orleans for questioning, etc. It also includes surveillance of Garrison's office by the FBI. And further the aid given to Washington by compromised journalists both on a national level and local level, i.e. Dave Snyder. This is all out in the open now, thanks to the declassified files of the ARRB. As far as Summers is concerned, its the far side of the moon.

But it's even worse than that. As revealed in a note to Jefferson Morley, Summers has now swung all the way around. For he has now enlisted in the ranks of the anti-Garrison zealots: Dave Reitzes, Stephen Roy, and their Queen Bee, Patricia Lambert. This is a bit much even if you understand Summers' game. Because these people have all proven themselves to be so agenda driven that they are simply not trustworthy. Let us start with Lambert herself. Lambert wrote a book about the Shaw prosecution called False Witness. In that book she never revealed a most important fact, one which energized the book. She was the closest of friends with the late FBI asset on the Garrison case, James Phelan. In fact, as this author found out later, she was the godmother to Phelan's daughter. Even after all the declassified materials about Phelan reveled what a liar he was about himself, Lambert was still praising the man! (Destiny Betrayed, Second Edition, p. 383) She simply refused to confront the facts that 1.) Phelan was an FBI asset, 2.) He lied about this throughout his life, and 3.) He lied about it even after the declassified documents revealed he had been lying! (ibid, pgs. 246-47)

Question for Summers: Does it get any worse than that?

But Lambert could not bring herself to admit this in her book, or even after Phelan died. For instance, Lisa Pease once did an article for Probe comparing Phelan's compromised career with that of former naval intelligence officer Bob Woodward's. In her book, in reference to this essay, Lambert characterized it as being "incomprehensible". To Lambert anything which peels away the carefully carpentered journalistic front about Phelan cannot be deciphered.

And perhaps nothing reveals more about the agenda of her book than what the failure does. Because by not revealing this point, it allows her to begin her book with something she tries to pound the reader with, but which is actually irrelevant. Lambert begins False Witness with pages about Garrison's alcoholic father, whose affliction got him in trouble with the law. Lambert continues this litany with relish and gusto. If Garrison had similar problems one might be able to see the point. But he didn't. If Garrison had been close to his father, it might also be relevant. But he wasn't. Garrison's mother divorced the man when her son was six years old. Garrison never saw his father again. That is an important point that Lambert leaves out. But now that we know it, this opening crescendo is seen as nothing but cheap character assassination.

Which is something that Lambert continues throughout the book. (See this review of her book.) This brings us to Tony Summers and his romance with her. In an interview Summers did with Jefferson Morley, Summers said he has now discounted the Clinton witnesses because of the work of Lambert. Which, if you have read False Witness, is utter hogwash. For, as expected, Lambert simply took a machete to these witnesses and this incident. And she did it in keeping with her agenda of villifying Garrison and upholding Phelan. For Summers to fall for the dog and pony show is simply incomprehensible. As noted in a review of False Witness by myself and Bill Davy, Lambert concocted one of the most bizarre conspiracy theories ever propounded in the literature. Namely that all the witnesses in both the hamlets of Clinton and Jackson made up the story of seeing Oswald, David Ferrie and Clay Shaw in 1967. (Reitzes upholds this wild conspiracy also.)

To say this is untenable does not begin to indicate how bizarre it is. Because, as Joan Mellen notes, there is now Bureau corroboration that Oswald witness Reeves Morgan made a call to the FBI about the incident back in 1963. (A Farewell to Justice, p. 234) Further, there is witness certification that Hoover's agents visited the hospital that Oswald applied for a job at in the area. (ibid) In 1965, conservative publisher Ned Touchstone heard about the visit by the threesome, and he and a friend of his visited one of the witnesses, Ed McGehee. (ibid, pgs. 214, 215) Lesson to Tony Summers on the space-time continuum: 1963 and 1965 precede 1967, which is the year Garrison encountered these witnesses. Further, Garrison lived in New Orleans. These events took place about 100 miles north of the city. Therefore, what Lambert and Reitzes are proffering is nonsense.

What makes it even worse is this: Summers admits that he had only been to the area once. (Which makes him more authoritative than Reitzes, who has never been there.) This author has visited the area and talked to the witnesses on three occasions. The first witness addressed was the daughter of Reeves Morgan. She recalled Oswald visiting her father's house one night in the late summer of 1963. Therefore, to buy into Lambert's byzantine plot, Reeves Morgan had to have enlisted his little daughter to lie for him – and to continue the lie for 30 years! The obvious question would be: Why? Why would he do it and then why would she continue it forever?

Actually, it's even worse than that. Because the other group of witnesses who saw the threesome were workers for the civil rights group Congress of Racial Equality. That's right, they were African-Americans trying to secure the right to vote. Lambert is so desperate that she actually intimates a plot between rightwing caucasians (some of whom are actually Klansmen), and oppressed blacks! Again, for what end? And how was it done? It's something out of a sci-fi novel. But Summers buys into this alchemy.

The truth is this: One cannot even begin to understand the Clinton-Jackson incident by visiting the area once. Which it appears is what Summers did. On this author's third visit I was still discovering things about the episode that I had not learned on the two previous excursions. For instance, how on earth did Oswald know the names of doctors who were working at the hospital in Jackson? Why was Marydale Farms, owned by Shaw's boss Lloyd Cobb, shut down the day of the assassination? And why was Reeves Morgan told to shut up about that fact? (DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, p. 186) In his blindness, Summers ignores these kinds of questions. And many others. The Clinton-Jackson incident cannot be denied today. And to propose that dozens of witnesses, young and old, white and black, liberal and conservative, that they all lied for Jim Garrison is simply a non starter. One can be in denial about it, as Lambert is. But as we have seen, that is part of her agenda. And it's why Joan Mellen had a hard time interviewing Garrison investigator Anne Dischler, who was instrumental in that particular part of Garrison's inquiry. When Mellen first drove up to her home, Dischler refused to see her. The reason being that she had read the smear done on her in False Witness.. It took much time and effort to convince Dischler that Mellen was not going to do the same. And Dischler requested that Mellen insert a statement in her book that Lambert had distorted the evidence about the incident and also caricatured her.

What probably drove Lambert up the wall was the photograph Dischler saw of Shaw, Ferrie and Oswald in the car in Clinton during the voting drive. And the fact that registrar Henry Palmer said to her that Oswald had actually signed up to vote. (Mellen, p. 217) But he and Sheriff John Manchester at first decided to conceal that fact. So they did what they could to erase it. In other words, if there was a conspiracy, it was not one to fabricate, but to conceal. The opposite of what Lambert proffers. Because there was a surfeit of evidence, it was unsuccessful. In that light, False Witness is about as agenda driven as a book can be. How Summers missed all this is truly troubling.

III

But that's not all Summers missed. In that online interview with Morley, the Irish author says he also decided to withdraw from the main text of his book the story of Rose Cheramie. This is the woman that Oliver Stone began his film with. The prostitute, junkie and drug runner who predicted the Kennedy assassination before it happened.

Again, because of the releases of the ARRB, this story had gotten stronger since Stone's film was released. There had been contributions from the HSCA declassified files, Garrison's files, and the work of radio host Jim Olivier. Plus researcher Bob Dorff had straightened out an evidentiary point that the HSCA had confused.

Francis Fruge was a state trooper who was called in by a hospital administrator to escort Rose Cheramie to a state hospital. On the way there, she began to talk about a plot to kill President Kennedy. Fruge dismissed it as being the ravings of a bad drug trip. But she also repeated it to a doctor at the hospital, Victor Weiss. Fruge then talked about this to a fellow trooper on his return. A young intern named Wayne Owen heard about it while he was there. And in Todd Elliott's new book, he names two more witnesses who had heard about her speaking of a plot before the assassination. The first was Dr. Louis Pavur at Moosa Memorial Hospital, the initial place Rose was taken to, and the place where Fruge picked her up from. Pavur also said that the FBI came to Moosa Hospital and began scouring for records about her. This testimony is backed up by the widow of L. G. Carrier, who was with the Eunice Police Department at the time. Jane Carrier said that her husband told her about the FBI going to Moosa and visiting the police station shortly after the assassination. Further, Jane said her husband actually heard Rose talking about the Kennedy assassination while she was temporarily incarcerated, before Fruge picked her up. (See Elliott, A Rose by Many other Names, pgs. 14-15.) That makes six witnesses.

This was all too much for the Lambert/Reitzes/Roy patrol. Especially since Fruge talked to the bartender at the saloon where Rose traveled through with her two companions. He identified the two men with her as Sergio Arcacha Smith and Emilio Santana. Summers failed to talk to HSCA attorney Jon Blackmer, so he mistakenly writes down the name of Santana as "Osanto" in the 1991 edition of Conspiracy. (Summers, p. 592) He then uses this Italian sounding misspelling to escape into a weak and unfounded story about Arcacha Smith and (naturally) Carlos Marcello.

In reality of course, Santana and Arcacha Smith tie in directly to 544 Camp Street. And Santana was a CIA employee out of the Directorate of Plans. But further, a friend of Arcacha Smith's, Carlos Quiroga, flunked a polygraph test given to him by Jim Garrison. One of the questions was if he had seen the weapons used in the Kennedy assassination prior to Kennedy being killed. (DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, p. 329) In other words, with all this new information, the Cheramie story now leads somewhere that Lambert and Reitzes and Roy do not want it to go. As in a political campaign, they had to do something about it.

So Reitzes now played Karl Rove. In a technique that recalls his partner in cover up, John McAdams, he tried to present something not by Fruge, as being by Fruge. And he then distorted its meaning. He tries to say that when Fruge first met up with Jim Garrison he did not tell him anything like what he told the House Select Committee in his long, detailed, compelling deposition about Cheramie. As with what most of Reitzes writes, this struck me as being in opposition to the actual record. Why? Because I had never seen any kind of "entering interview" or "entering summary" written by Fruge about his experience with Cheramie in Garrison's files. And I had the extant file collection Garrison had left with his son Lyon. In fact, I was the first person who Lyon let duplicate those files. With the help of others, I then put together an alphabetical index to the collection. There was no such Fruge interview that I read. Peter Vea worked as a researcher for Joan Mellen on the Garrison files at NARA. Neither of them recalled any such interview or summary by Fruge.

So how does Reitzes turn the trick? He passes off a short three paragraph memo by investigator Frank Meloche on Cheramie as being by Fruge. He then tries to say this memo represents everything Fruge knew about Cheramie. In reality, this is nothing but a brief progress report from Meloche to Garrison. It is not meant to be comprehensive about anything. Certainly not about Fruge's initial investigation. In just three paragraphs, how could it be? Fruge's HSCA deposition on the subject was well over ten pages long. But yet, Reitzes tries to pass this off as being 1.) by Fruge, and 2.) definitive of his knowledge. It is neither.

It is incredible to me that people like Summers actually take Reitzes seriously. Because he has been shown to be not worth reading more than once already. (Click here for one instance.) And when it comes to Garrison, the man is simply off the map. If one clicks on this response to his review of Bill Davy's book, one will see that it is very hard not to come to the conclusion that Reitzes is a fabricator.

Does this mean there never was any such "entering interview" or "entering summary" with or by Fruge with Garrison? No it does not. It could have existed and is now gone. The reason being that many of Garrison's most important files were pilfered by the infiltrators in his office e.g. William Gurvich, Gordon Novel, Bill Boxley. But the problem with Summers and his new cohorts is that they will never admit to this because it shows that the FBI and CIA were attempting to undermine Garrison in many ways. Which leads to the conclusion that Garrison must have been onto something. And the Cheramie episode indicates he was. Therefore, in light of this, the closest thing we have to such an interview is the one done by Fruge with the HSCA. Reitzes didn't like it. So, like Lambert in Clinton-Jackson, he concocted a nefarious "plot". One in which several people participated in several locations, including Dallas. Because, through his superior, Fruge called Dallas to offer the police Cheramie's testimony. The police declined. The anti-conspiracy crowd is so desperate that they now manufacture grand conspiracies everywhere. And somehow Summers doesn't see through any of this.

To wrap up Reitzes, he also tried to imply that there was no one who heard Cheramie say any such thing at East Hospital in Jackson. He does this by writing that the man attributed with this knowledge by the HSCA, Donn Bowers, later denied he heard Cheramie say these things. What Reitzes fails to make clear is this: the man who said Bowers told him these things was Dr. Victor Weiss. And it was Weiss who actually first started Garrison down this path toward Cheramie. A friend of Weiss', A. H. Magruder, had a talk with the doctor over the Christmas holiday of 1963. Weiss told Magruder about Cheramie's disclosures at that time, which was only a month after the assassination. To anyone but Reitzes, it's clear from this memo what happened. Weiss did not want anyone to know it was he, not Bowers, who had the direct knowledge of Cheramie's information pre-assassination. Which, although it is not admirable, is understandable in light of the explosiveness of her statements.

To give him his due, Reitzes is nothing if not tireless. As Jim Hargrove has noted, the man is addicted to internet posting. As far back as the late nineties, he was posting at the rate of thousands per month, on more than one web site. In fact, more than one administrative service had flagged him as a web abuser. As Davy quotes in his response to his review of Let Justice be Done, some researchers have called Reitzes so internet addicted that he is divorced from the real world. And he is so violently anti-Garrison that he even said that certain witnesses Garrison interviewed didn't exist. But yet, no matter how often he is exposed as being both an addict and an alchemist, he never stops. And since many people are not familiar with the ins and outs of New Orleans, and since Reitzes has his own echo chamber in Roy, David Von Pein and McAdams, unsuspecting lambs get snookered. As far away as Ireland.

IV

In the Morley interview, Summers says that he also now discounts the role of David Ferrie. Again, this is startling. For at least two reasons. First, it is very obvious today that Ferrie lied to the FBI. When Jim Garrison did not buy his story about ice-skating and duck hunting in Texas, the DA turned Ferrie over to the Bureau. In his FBI interview, Ferrie said, among other things, that he never owned a telescopic rifle, or had used one, and further, he would not know how to use one. This from a man who was used by the CIA as a trainer for both Operation Mongoose and the Bay of Pigs. (ibid, DiEugenio, p. 177) In that interview, Ferrie also said he did not know Oswald, and that Oswald was not a member of the CAP squadron in New Orleans. Yet, among others, CAP member Jerry Paradis, a drill instructor for Ferrie, said that Oswald was in the CAP with Ferrie. (ibid) Further, we also know that there is a photo showing Oswald and Ferrie on a cookout in the CAP. Ferrie was clearly lying. And these were fabrications in a legally binding document.

But it's even worse than that. Because right after the assassination, Ferrie was hard at work trying to track down any evidence that would link him to Oswald. This included calling former members of the CAP to see if there were any photos depicting the two together. And he was also calling anyone who might say that Oswald had borrowed his library card that summer. (DiEugenio, Reclaiming Parkland, p. 152) In addition to perjury, Ferrie was now liable for obstruction of justice.

If Summers can find any other suspect who did these things, and who we have strong evidence about in the way of phone calls, I would like to see it.

But actually it's even worse than that. Because it appears Summers never looked through any of the ARRB released files from the Garrison inquiry before he reissued his book. Today, there is evidence that Ferrie was in possession of a diagram of Dealey Plaza before the assassination. When a former acquaintance of Ferrie's, Clara Gay, tried to secure it, Ferrie's employers at G. Wray Gill's office yanked it away from her. (Destiny Betrayed, p. 216) Can Summers mention another suspect who had such a diagram?

For his discounting of Ferrie, Summers mentions Roy. Roy is the guy who, even after Dean Andrews told Harold Weisberg that Shaw was Bertrand, tried to deny the value of that long suppressed confession. Roy said that the description of Bertrand given by Andrews to the FBI was not an exact match for Shaw. When several people told Roy that Andrews had been threatened, and therefore felt he was in danger if he spilled the beans, Roy said words to the effect, how did Andrews say that? In fact, this was intimated at in his Warren Commission testimony. (ibid, p. 88) He then told at least three other people he had been threatened: Mark Lane, Jim Garrison, and, if one can believe it, Anthony Summers. (ibid, p. 181) To Roy, that means nothing. And apparently today, it means nothing to Summers.

Roy is an interesting piece of work in other regards. Being in cahoots with Lambert, he once referred to the Clinton-Jackson incident by putting it in quotation marks. He even tried to defend the legacy of the late Paul Mandel. Mandel was the reporter at Life magazine who, within days of the assassination, tried to explain the bullet hole in the front of Kennedy's throat by writing that JFK had turned around toward the depository building. Thereby attributing that bullet strike to Oswald. This, of course, is not evident in the Zapruder film. Which Life had at the time of Mandel's writing. When Mandel's son Peter complained in a column for Huffington Post about the fact that researchers had pointed out this subterfuge by his father, Roy jumped onto a Kennedy assassination forum and said words to the effect, see these people have families too. I didn't quite understand what this meant. Was Roy saying one could not point out any discrepancies in the MSM record on the JFK case since the author may have a son or daughter who was still alive? That's quite a pardon to grant in lieu of freedom of speech. But I did point out that, 58, 000 Americans had paid an even harsher price in Vietnam by Life being a main part of the cover up about Kennedy's death. Roy didn't seem to sympathize with any of them.

When this writer tried to pin Roy down on his beliefs about the assassination, that is did he buy the Warren Comission or not, he would not reply. Since then we have it from other sources that today Roy thinks the Commission was correct. That is, Oswald did it. Which is the face of the ARRB is truly amazing. But now we know where Roy is headed with his work on Ferrie. The same place Wesley Liebeler was for the Commission.

V

We should conclude this essay with the reason Summers reissued his book at this time. In the October 25, 2013 issue of National Enquirer a story was run by reporters John Blosser and Robert Hartlein. It was headlined as the following "Exclusive: Second Gunman in JFK Assassination." The very first sentence in the story is this: "Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone – and the Enquirer can finally name the second gunman who fired the fatal shot at President John F. Kennedy from the grassy knoll in Dallas 50 years ago!" Who is the grassy knoll assassin who the tabloid breathlessly builds suspense about? Herminio Diaz, a Cuban exile who the story, quoting Summers, links to mobster Santo Trafficante. Through Summers, the story also says, "Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone." Summers is further quoted as saying, "...the same people who hired Lee Harvey Oswald ... also hired Herminio Diaz." Oh really? So Oswald shot at Kennedy for that mental defective Trafficante? I call him that because he would have to be to hire a guy who could not hit a moving car let alone a passenger in it at that distance. But as the reader will note, this Mob orientation fits what Summers has been trying to do for decades. We will understand that more thoroughly by tracing how Summers discovered the story.

The genesis goes back to 2007 and Summers' longstanding relationship with Robert Blakey. It turns out it's a thirdhand story. Diaz allegedly told Tony Cuesta, another Cuban exile about his role. That occurred back in the sixties. Diaz then died in a raid on Cuba. While imprisoned, Cuesta told a man named Reinaldo Martinez. Cuesta then died. Martinez kept his own knowledge to himself for about 40 years. He then told Robert Blakey. And then Blakey and Summers visited with Martinez in 2007. Summers then held the story for this reissue of his book.

Except it was not even new in 2007. John Simkin reported it in a post on his forum back on November 6, 2004. Except he wrote something that the tabloid, and apparently Summers, left out. Before he died, Cuesta told Fabian Escalante of Castro's G2 that he himself had been involved in the assassination of President Kennedy. He also named Diaz and Eladio del Valle as being involved in the murder plot. It turns out that Cuesta told this information to Escalante back in 1978. To his credit, Escalante said he did not know of its accuracy. But that makes the information 35 years old. And Escalante divulged much of this information at a conference in Rio De Janeiro in 1995. In fact, in a documentary broadcast in Cuba based on Escalante's information, Diaz was named as an assassin, along with del Valle and three Chicago mobsters. So the idea that the tabloid tries to get across, that somehow this is explosive new information, that is simply wrong. And it would be interesting to know how they justified that claim. Was it via Blakey, or Summers? Because if its either one of them they are not anywhere near as current on the research as they think they are.

But what is even worse is the idea that somehow Oswald was on the sixth floor and shot at Kennedy. If there is one thing that is clear today it is these two facts: Oswald was not on the 6th floor, and Oswald did not shoot anyone that day. And the proof is in the declassified files of the ARRB.

On his blog Larry Hancock fairly typified this Blakey/Summers plot as being Mafia oriented. Summers replied on his blog by saying that he did not think that the assassination "was necessarily Mafia driven." He then goes on to add in his characteristic Summerese language: "Indeed, I have not in the end expressed any certainty that there was a conspiracy..." If that isn't enough for you, he then tops that with this: "Although I think this is entirely possible."

What is one to think of such a writer? This is fifty years after the fact. When the ARRB has declassified 2 million pages of documents, and done an extensive review with the medical witnesses. Which culminated with the official photographer, John Stringer, swearing that he did not take the pictures which depict Kennedy's brain. When we now know that the "stretcher bullet", CE 399, was at FBI HQ before the FBI ever got it into custody. When over 40 witnesses at Parkland and Bethesda now say that the back of Kennedy's skull was blasted out. When the man who the FBI said showed CE 399 to the witnesses who found it, has now reversed field and said he did no such thing. When the NAA test Robert Blakey used to connect the Magic Bullet to the head shot has been shown to be a fraud. (According to Gary Aguilar, Summers was still proffering this test in 1998, after Wallace Milam had seriously challenged it.) And when we now know that the rifle found at the Texas School Book Depository is not the rifle that the Warren Commission says Oswald ordered.

In the face of all that, and even in the face of his own tabloid disclosures, Summers is still saying: Well maybe. Maybe not. It might have been a conspiracy. But maybe it wasn't. Its possible. By surfing the internet and meeting up with the likes of Lambert, Roy and Reitzes we might need another 50 years to convince Summers.

As for me, I really hope it's the last round for Tony. He used this decades old story to get a tabloid cover to boost sales of a book which has seen better days and better versions. Meanwhile, there is a whole cohort of researchers from the UK and down under who we need much more than reissues of this dated book. While Summers has been cavorting around with the likes of Lambert, Roy and Reitzes, others have been listening to people like Greg Parker, Sean Murphy, Lee Farley, Martin Hay, Hasan Yusuf and Seamus Coogan. And if Summers had been doing the same, it would have made his book a lot more relevant.


Postscript

May 15, 2015

At the (disappointing) AARC Conference last September in Washington, the above fears about Summers were both confirmed and amplified.

Attorney Andrew Krieg was a consultant to the conference who also helped publicize it. From the podium, Andrew played a video clip of Jim Garrison’s 1967, FCC-sanctioned response on NBC to the attack on him previously broadcast by the network. Summers couldn’t control himself. After Andrew spoke ever so briefly about that clip, the visitor from across the pond burst out from the dais, “Garrison’s investigation was a circus. And after talking to him, I know it was a circus!” In other words, for Summers, one cannot even play a favorable clip of a man who risked everything to try and bring the JFK case to court. Even after he has been dead for twenty years. I guess there is no statute of limitations for being a “circus” in Summers’ world.

Which is odd considering some of the things noted above about Summers on the JFK case. When my time came to speak, even though I was relegated to a break-out room, I thought that since Jim Garrison could not speak for himself, I should say something in his defense. So I said, “I think Tony Summers’ writings on Garrison constitute a circus.”

Further, Robert Blakey was at this conference. He said that he still believed in the single-bullet fantasy – even though the two tests he used to bolster that fantasy have both been invalidated: namely, the NAA bullet lead testing of Vincent Guinn, and the trajectory work of Thomas Canning. Yet Summers cannot bring himself to utter any negative words about Robert Blakey, or what he did to the HSCA. Today, with what we know about the HSCA, this is really kind of mind boggling.

But in a roundabout way, it does all make some sense. When one views Summers’ overall work on the JFK case, and on Kennedy himself, and when one adds into the equation his current marriage to his wife Robyn, one can begin to sort out the outlines of a paradigm. If one cuts out any references to Garrison, says the Mafia did it, and also goes after Kennedy’s sex life (which Summers has done more than once), then one can at least hope to be taken seriously by the MSM.

Which Summers and his wife want to be. Concerning this last, I have it on reliable sources that Robyn Swan Summers volunteered her services to the late David Heymann before he passed away. She wanted to be considered as chief researcher for that fabricator on his next book on the Kennedys. Considering who Heymann was, she had to know what she was getting into. And evidently, she had no qualms about jumping into Heymann’s latest exercise in scatology. Talk about a circus. (Click here for a take on Heymann.)

As I noted above, Summers was trying to tell David Talbot way back in 1992 that there was no validity to the idea that JFK was withdrawing from Vietnam (a verifiable thesis which Jim Garrison was onto way back in 1968). So although Summers found no merit in this key proposition – or in the withdrawal perhaps being a motive for his murder – he did a lot to push the Judith Exner angles and the Marilyn Monroe angles on the public. He once wrote a long newspaper article on Exner that was published in the UK; and he did a book on the whole Monroe/JFK/RFK mythology.

I call it that since, for months, I actually researched this stuff myself. Which meant I had to read Summers’ book on Monroe, entitled Goddess. After taking pages of notes on it, and analyzing its sources, I found it to be just about bereft of any historical value. In that woeful book, Summers relied on people like Jeanne Carmen, James Haspiel and Robert Slatzer. Talk about a circus. There’s a three ringer for you. Rarely has any serious author ever relied on such a trio of fantasists as Summers did in Goddess. In fact, one can say that Summers probably launched Carmen’s fraudulent career, because later Heymann used her. Thus one can see why his wife wanted to work with the late mythomaniac. Let me put it this way: anyone who could listen to the likes of Carmen for anything more than five minutes without laughing had no sense of humor. (A quality, by the way, that is sorely lacking in Summers’ output.) Reading what she said to Summers and Heymann literally had me rocking in my chair.

Summers is touchy about this subject. When I first printed my essay, “The Posthumous Assassination of John F. Kennedy”, in Probe Magazine, I criticized him for taking such people seriously. He wrote me a letter taking issue with what I wrote and demanded we print the correspondence. Which we did. And I replied to it by specifically scoring his use of Haspiel. When Lisa Pease and I then published The Assassinations, we included that essay in that anthology. Summers, apparently forgetting his first letter, wrote me again! How offended was he? He actually asked us to consider cutting out the comments I made about him in future editions of the book! This was so silly, I did not even reply.

This could go on further but it is probably too long already. Yet I hope from the broadest outlines of my argument readers can understand where I am coming from. If not, then I refer them to this essay. Unlike many others, I don’t look back at the work of Paul Hoch, Peter Scott, Russ Stetler, Josiah Thompson and Summers from the period 1979-1992 with very much appreciation. I mean, for God’s sakes, these guys actually swallowed the HSCA! (See the now suppressed manuscript called Beyond Conspiracy.) Paul Hoch actually once said that he felt that Bob Blakey’s approach to the JFK case was better than Richard Sprague’s. For a time, Thompson swallowed the fraud of Vincent Guinn’s NAA testing. And to this day, like Blakey, Summers says that the Mafia killed JFK. And to do so, he merrily jettisons the discoveries of Jim Garrison about 544 Camp Street, the Clinton-Jackson incident, and David Ferrie feverishly covering up his relationship to Oswald right after the assassination. Along the way he jumps into bed with not just Blakey, but Patricia Lambert’s crazy book on Jim Garrison (click here for a review of it) and also with Oswald-did-it advocate Stephen Roy aka David Blatburst. Which, when one looks at it, is yet another three ring circus.

People in glass houses should not throw stones.

Last modified on Sunday, 23 October 2016 20:02
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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