Thursday, January 20, 2022

Fact Check: whowhatwhy and JFK Revisited

Whowhatwhy has published a series on Oliver Stone's documentary JFK Revisited. The far-left publication maintains that, "Cleaning up the tangle of underbrush from our murky history can go a long way to establishing the primacy of carefully documented facts over lies, innuendo, and cover-up by all parties." Unfortunately, whowhatwhy is using disinformation in their attempt to "clean up" the verdict of history that Oswald was a lone gunman. Whowhatwhy's assertions are in block quotes followed by my rebuttal. Credit also goes to John McAdams, David Von Pein, Fred Litwin, Nick Nalli and Steve Roe whose work I have relied on.

… the Warren Commission report, with its urgency to rubber stamp J. Edgar Hoover’s non-investigation “investigation” that laid the tragedy solely at the feet of Lee Harvey Oswald, the “disgruntled loner seeking attention,” who bafflingly told police he did not do it. In fact, he declared himself “just a patsy.”

Whowhatwhy apparently does not realize that the prisons are full of "innocent" people. More importantly, Oswald lied throughout his life when it suited his needs. Including when he claimed he was a patsy.

Skeptics who accept the official account should consider the chain of custody surrounding the so-called “magic bullet” said to have passed through both Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally as they cruised in the presidential motorcade through Dealey Plaza.

Here is a report by David Von Pein on the chain of custody for bullet 399.

The civilian doctors who first examined the president at Dallas’s Parkland Hospital all saw an entrance wound in the throat — indicating that Kennedy was shot from the front, from the direction of the grassy knoll — that then “disappeared” from the military autopsy conducted at Bethesda Naval Hospital after Air Force One returned to Washington that night.

No wound "disappeared." The Dallas doctors, who were engaged in life-saving procedures and not trying to determine the nature of the President's wounds, indeed originally though the throat wound was an entrance. However, Malcolm Perry later admitted that was "just a guess" on his part based on the the relatively small size of the wound. The exact nature of the wound was never documented because the Dallas doctors performed a tracheotomy over the incision. However, both the HSCA and Clark Panel experts were able to discern remnants of the original exit wound despite the tracheotomy.

The president’s autopsy was Navy doctor J.J. Humes’s first-ever gunshot-wound postmortem. Though he had 40 observers on hand, Humes made sure to burn all his notes, a long-known fact to which JFK Revisited adds context.

Although he was an experienced and competent forensic pathologist, Humes admitted that he was not an expert on gunshot wounds. That is why he called in Pierre Finck to assist him. Regarding the autopsy notes, Humes explained, “The original notes which were stained with the blood of our late president, I felt, were inappropriate to retain to turn in to anyone in that condition. I felt that people with some peculiar ideas about the value of that type of material, they might fall into their hands."

One of the key primary witnesses supporting a conspiracy is John Stringer, the official autopsy photographer. He claims the photos of Kennedy’s blown-out head are fake, or at least altered. The type of film and camera used for these images are not the same camera and film as what he used that night. If Stringer didn’t take those pictures, who did? And why did they have to take another set?

This is a misrepresentation by whowhatwhy. Stringer never said any photos were faked or altered. When he was asked if anything about the photos caused him to question their authenticity. Stringer replied, "no." What he did say was he believed the photos of the brain were taken on a different film stock. But his memory of the events of 1963 was shaky since he was testifying over thirty years after the fact. Read Fred Litwin's report for more information.

As for Oswald, the accused assassin who was murdered two days later in a Dallas police station by mobbed-up nightclub owner Jack Ruby, three female witnesses who worked in the Texas School Book Depository independently claimed that he was not on the sixth floor at the time of the shooting (as Oswald maintained before his death).

Read Steve Roe's report on the matter.

And the gun found on the scene may not have been Oswald’s: The Mannlicher-Carcano rifle allegedly found in the sniper’s nest was 4.2 inches longer than the rifle Oswald purchased from a mail-order catalogue nine months earlier.

As David Von Pein explains:

"The likely explanation for why Oswald received a 40-inch rifle instead of the 36-inch model that he ordered via the Klein's mail-order coupon is pretty simple and logical, and it is this: Klein's very likely ran out of the 36-inch model shortly before receiving Oswald's order, and hence shipped a very similar (but slightly lengthier) gun instead."

Why was the street address of Oswald’s Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans scrubbed from post-assassination reports? Perhaps because the same office was a locus of anti-Castro activity — not Communist sympathizers, as Oswald was made out to be?

Oswald's FPCC chapter had no "street address" because it consisted of only Oswald himself. Oswald probably stamped "544 Camp" on a few pamplets to lend an air of authenticity to his fake group. See Fred Litwin's report on Guy Banister for more on 544 Camp.

Why was a “flash warning” removed from Oswald’s file at the FBI, just as Oswald returned from his alleged trips to the Cuban Consulate and Russian Embassy in Mexico City which otherwise would have alerted the Secret Service to consider him a security threat to the president?

As I noted here, there is no evidence of a connection between Oswald’s visit to the embassies in Mexico City and his removal from the watch list. FBI agent Marvin Gheesling told a superior that he removed Oswald’s name from the list after learning Oswald had been arrested in New Orleans. Gheesling went on to explain that he had previously forgotten to remove Oswald from the list but should have done so upon his return to the US in 1962 since the purpose of the “stop” on Oswald was to alert the FBI “in the event [Oswald] returned to the U.S. under [an] assumed name.” Gheesling was disciplined for his actions and he was not the only FBI agent whose foul-ups elicited punishment by the bureau. In a perfect world, the FBI would have monitored Oswald more closely and the tragedy in Dallas might have been averted.

Shortly before JFK’s scheduled arrival in Chicago on November 2, an ex-Marine sharpshooter named Thomas Vallee found himself arrested on the pretext of a minor driving offense. The FBI had placed Vallee under constant surveillance after receiving a tip from an informant identified only as “Lee” that Vallee was planning to assassinate the president.

Fred Litwin debunks the non-existent Chicago JFK plot in this article.

[JFK] prepared to withdraw a then-limited number of American troops from Vietnam, intentions reversed by Lyndon B. Johnson

One of the major problems that the media and historians have with Stone and DiEugenio is their insistence that JFK would have withdrawn from Vietnam to the exclusion of all other possibilities. But of course, no one can say for sure what JFK would have done.

[Ann] Hornaday cites “compelling evidence … that Garrison’s prosecution of Shaw was abetted and manipulated by intelligence agents in Moscow” and then she characterizes Oliver Stone’s filmic depiction of Shaw’s trial as “one of the most stunning successes of Soviet disinformation of the late 20th century.”

But it is a fact that Garrison was influenced by a series of articles in a communist-controlled newspaper called Paese Sera. Fred Litwin writes:

“The impact of the allegations leveled by Paese Sera on the New Orleans district attorney is beyond dispute. Garrison was in receipt of this scoop by no later than mid-March 1967. We know this via several contemporaneous sources, including the diary of Richard Billings …”

Litwin continues, “Insofar as Garrison was concerned, Shaw was now directly linked to the CIA, although the DA’s sole source was a newspaper clipping. In combination with the beliefs of conspiracy buffs, Garrison pivoted away from his initial theory of a locally-based, homosexual/sadism & masochism conspiracy and began talking in public about something much much bigger.”

... Clay Shaw lied throughout his trial, saying that he never in his life had ever worked for the CIA.

Fred Litwin, who has studied Clay Shaw extensively, makes the case that he was not a CIA operative in this article.

While the AP dutifully notes that the Warren Commission “concluded that Oswald had been the lone gunman,” the wire service ignores the conclusion of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) that there was a probable conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy.

But the HSCA agreed with the WC that Oswald had fired the shots that killed JFK. The HSCA conclusion of conspiracy was based on the so-called acoustics evidence. But that evidence has been debunked.

The theory that Oswald was a KGB asset has persisted for decades, despite a lack of evidence.

Any number of theories regarding the assassination have persisted for years despite a lack of credible evidence. But this installment of the whowhatwhy series is partly corrrect. Oswald was not a KGB asset. But neither was he a CIA agent or asset as whowhatwhy tries to show. Nor is there any credible evidence that the media is currently pushing a KGB-Oswald connection to cover up a CIA plot to kill JFK.

[The KBG theory] ignores the many signs that suggest Oswald may indeed have been an intelligence asset — but the CIA’s, an agency whose very existence was threatened by John F. Kennedy.

The notion that JFK wanted to destroy the CIA is one of the most poorly supported ideas in the long history of JFK theorizing. The concept is based on one unverified quote from the New York Times. But as Fred Litwin reports, instead of moving to destroy the CIA, Kennedy started using the agency to further his anti-Castro agenda after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

Circumstantial evidence suggests Oswald was recruited into the US intelligence community while in the Marines. Through this lens, everything Oswald did, including learning Russian while a teenaged Marine and “defecting” to the Soviet Union at 19 in 1959, was carefully choreographed.

The "circumstancial evidence" reffered to is weak at best. It consists of things such as Oswald owned a Minox "spy camera" and had written "microdots" in his notebook. Also mentioned in the link used by whowhatwhy to support their assertions is the "special training" Oswald must have had to learn the Russian language. But Oswald learned to speak Russian by neccessity since he had to use it in order to communicate with just about anyone including his wife Marina.

Infuriated, Oswald left [Mexico] for Texas on October 2 to plot the crime of the century.

The liklihood is that Oswald never developed a plan to shoot JFK before November 19. That is the date that the motorcade route was first published in newspapers.

The purpose of his visit, we are told, was to obtain transit visas from the Cuban Embassy in order to return to the USSR, where Oswald lived from October 1959 to June 1962. There he was, hoping to go back, even though he had gladly fled the totalitarian state and publicly expressed how happy he was to be living in the US again.

But there are indications that Oswald wanted to get to Cuba. JFK expert Gerald Posner told author Steven Gillon that following the assassination Oswald, “was on his way back to Mexico City and the Cuban consulate.” Posner went on to say that Oswald "only wanted to get to Cuba, where he thought the real revolution was happening. Cuban bureaucrats in Mexico City had refused him a visa to Havana only a month earlier. He intended to show up and say, ‘This is what I’ve done,’ and they would have no choice but to enthusiastically embrace him.”

There are some indications that Oswald did travel to Mexico City ...

The evidence is overwhelming that Oswald was in Mexico City and includes his photo and signature on documents, statements of witnesses, CIA surveillance and Oswald's own admissions that he was in the Mexican capital.

Speaking in broken Russian — which Oswald spoke nearly fluently — a caller identifying himself as Oswald to the Soviet official on the other end of the line sought more information about his visa request.

The possibility exists that Oswald could have been impersonated by the CIA. The reason for such an impersonation would be an attempt by the agency to see what Oswald was doing or where he was. It is known that such a technique was used by the CIA in Mexico City previously. If the agency were using such a gambit it would indicate a lack of knowledge on their part about Oswald rather than point to their use of him as an asset.

CIA surveillance cameras photographed everyone entering or leaving the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico. Why have they never produced one single photo of Oswald even though he reportedly made several visits between the two buildings? The only photos to appear are of this “Mexico City Mystery Man,” as he has been dubbed. Was he the mystery man pretending to be Oswald on the phone?

This is another "mystery" that has been explained to theorists for years that they simply refuse to accept. The cameras were somewhat prone to breaking down and did not provide continous coverage. The ARRB studied the issue and found in regards to the Cuban embassy that a “Robot Star” camera with a trigger device as well as a K-100 camera were installed on the very day that Oswald arrived in Mexico—September 27th. The Robot Star was to be tested for four days and the K-100 for an additional four days. But no photographic take from these cameras was produced. The ARRB noted that one explanation for this lack of coverage was that a camera was focused on a shaded area instead of the door of the consulate. Additionally, the ARRB said that the mere presense of dark clothing could fool the system.

The CIA knew Kostikov as a spy, thought to be involved in all the craft’s darkest arts. A notorious foreign intelligence agent meeting with a former defector to Russia should have set off alarm bells. Yet the CIA chose to keep this information to itself.

As I noted here, Kostikov was working in the Soviet embassy under the cover of a consular officer. The fact is anyone who had business of any sort at the embassy might come into contact with him.

In conclusion, whowhatwhy claims that "There have been no good answers to such troubling questions." But the answers have been there for many years in most instances. For reasons known only to them, whowhatwhy and others simply do not want to accept those answers.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Morley v. Reynolds

Conspiracy theorist and gadfly Jefferson Morley is at it again.

This time, Morley has taken umbrage with an article by Robert Reynolds that is critical of him and his incessant (and mostly inaccurate) assertions. The purpose of Morley’s rejoinder (originally posted on a private email group) is ostensibly to correct the “facts” that Reynolds was “wrong” about. But in “correcting” Reynolds, Morley is guilty of his own errors and unsupported statements. Some of these he is aware of yet he continues to unabashedly promote these bits of misinformation. Let’s take a look. Morley’s assertions are in blockquotes.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist

Morley seems to take great offense at being called a conspiracy theorist. He suggests that he is a truth seeker who merely wants the JFK files released. Key researchers on the lone assassination side of the argument, such as the late John McAdams, took Morley at his word for years. McAdams signed petitions that Morley and like-minded individuals created that called for a full document release. According to a post on his Usenet group, McAdams made sure that Morley’s book, Our Man in Mexico, found a place in the library of his own Marquette University.

But by around 2010, it became evident that Morley had gone over to the conspiracy side and possibly had been a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” all along.

What is a conspiracy theorist? According to Professor Joseph Uscinski of the University of Miami, an expert on the subject, a conspiracy theory is “an explanation of past, present, or future events or circumstances that cites, as the primary cause, a conspiracy” (Uscinski, Joseph E. Conspiracy Theories, p. 23). Obviously, a conspiracy theorist is an individual who promotes these “explanations.”

According to Ucinski, a conspiracy theory may become fact when the proper epistemological authority (those trained to assess knowledge claims in a relevant area and draw conclusions) deems it to be so. That is exactly what has happened in the JFK case. Two such epistemological authorities, the Warren Commission and the HSCA, said that Oswald fired the shots that killed JFK. But it really goes well beyond that since the Dallas Police, the FBI, the Church Committee, the Rockefeller Commission, the Clark Panel and several distinguished authors and the news media have supported the lone gunman viewpoint.

So, anyone promoting an alternate view of the JFK assassination is promoting a conspiracy theory. Their theories could become fact if they prove them to the satisfaction of most epistemological authorities.

Has Morley promoted conspiracy views? It seems that he has.

In his eBook (p. 58), Morley v. CIA, he says that JFK’s enemies “made Oswald a patsy for their crime.” Obviously, if Morley thinks that Oswald was a “patsy” he believes he was innocent and the Warren Commission explanation is incorrect. Some unknown gunman killed JFK and a conspiracy created the case against Oswald. In fact, one must look no further than Morley’s rejoinder to Reynolds for further evidence of his conspiracy views.

Who was it [the CIA person who Morley thinks had a keen interest in Oswald before the assassination]? All I can say with confidence is that it was someone higher in the food chain than Joannides. Joannides was not a co-conspirator. He looks more like an accessory after the fact.

Again, if Morley thinks Joannides covered up some misdeed for an unnamed CIA official, he believes, by definition, that there was a conspiracy afoot.

So, Morley is a conspiracy theorist. Which is what author Vincent Bugliosi probably suspected circa 2005 when he had a snail mail debate with him. Bugliosi noted:

“… Morley, who tells his readers that “the Joannides’ story doesn’t prove the existence of an assassination conspiracy,” is obviously proceeding under the assumption that the CIA may be hiding something, and the thing it is hiding, just as obviously, is Joannides’s knowledge of the DRE having Kennedy killed, or being complicit with the agency in the assassination. After all, if that’s not what Morley suspects, then why is he taking up space in magazines and newspapers …”

We have such reports from July through November 1962, written by Ross Crozier, a contract agent who worked for senior Cuba operations officer David Phillips who had recruited the Directorate’s leaders off the University of Havana campus.

Morley has gone to great lengths to tie David Phillips to the DRE (and to the assassination through some unnamed scheme) because he is one of Morley’s key suspects along with Joannides and Angleton (and perhaps soon Richard Nixon as Morley has a new book in the works that throws Watergate into the mix). But Phillips’ ties to the anti-Castro student group are very thin. I will have more to say about this in my forthcoming book. But for now, I will say that the only real tie to Phillips is the statements by former DRE members (to Morley) that one or two of them met with Phillips while he was still in Cuba.

But the time Phillips would have had to devote to the students would have been minimal. They were brought to his attention by their demonstration in Havana against USSR cabinet member Anastas Mikoyan in February 1960. But by no later than March 14, Phillips had left the island nation for good. Additionally, Ross Crozier did not work directly for Phillips. Crozier was the first DRE case officer and worked under JMWAVE for William Kent and Ted Shackley. In 1962, Phillips was in Mexico City working for Win Scott and there is no evidence that he attended key meetings on the DRE although he was probably briefed on their progress.

It should be mentioned here that Morley has in the past promoted the canard that Phillips was the first DRE case officer. The "evidence" for this is a statement in a book by Bayard Stockton. But Stockton provides no citation. To his credit, Morley has of late dropped this assertion from his repertoire.

[photo caption] Retired CIA officer George Joannides (left) received the Career Intelligence Medal in 1981, two years after misleading House investigators about what he knew about Lee Oswald.

Morley continues to either imply or state outright that Joannides received the Career Intelligence Medal as a reward for “misleading” HSCA investigators. This is simply not true and Morley should stop repeating this canard. Joannides received the Career Intelligence Medal which, as the name implies, is for a lifetime of service. The medal citation reads, “in recognition of his exceptional achievement with the Central Intelligence Agency for more than twenty-eight years.”

You [Reynolds] say, in conclusion, “Morley essentially argues that proof of the CIA’s complicity in the assassination resides in the mere fact that some CIA records gathered under the JFK Act are still redacted.” I think you’ve distorted my argument, or maybe I haven’t made myself clear enough.

No, Reynolds has not distorted Morley’s argument at all. Consider these Morley quotes from Twitter that I previously reported on:

The CIA has annulled a law passed unanimously by Congress. It is a proverbial 'smoking gun’ … The CIA's actions are brazen, arrogant, cunning, and desperate … The Agency seeks eternal impunity for the malfeasance of certain CIA personnel in the death of the 35th president … The intentional nullification of the [JFK Records Act] is the Smoking Gun No.1.

And this:

The CIA is still with us, an incipient American Gestapo, still hiding the truth about JFK. The smoking gun is Biden's subservient letter [withholding files] & the taboo JFK files it suppresses.

According to Morley, the mere suppression of the information is a “smoking gun.” That is virtually synonymous with what Reynolds said—"Morley essentially argues that proof of the CIA’s complicity in the assassination resides in the mere fact that some CIA records gathered under the JFK Act are still redacted.”

These facts also defeat Morley’s point to Reynolds that he has “never said, written or believed that I have “proof” of CIA’s complicity.” What else is a “smoking gun” but proof?

Morley’s “evidence” of CIA complicity consists of the following:

–that a small group in the Counterintelligence Staff monitored Oswald’s movements constantly from 1959 to November 1963

That the CIA would monitor the activities of a defector to the Soviet Union during the Cold War is not surprising. There is no evidence that anyone was especially interested in Oswald. Jane Roman (whose interview was used by Morley to promote his theories) of the CIA’s Counterintelligence Staff said that Morley created a “monstrous mountain out of a mole hill.”

Roman also stated that she had signed off on certain cables as “a matter of routine coordination and review.” Roman noted that the original Post article by Morley was “sensationally misleading” adding “the information in the cable from Mexico Station was disseminated to State, the FBI, INS and Navy.” Roman denied being aware of any agency relationship with Oswald and concluded, “My statements [to Morley and John Newman] have been seriously contorted, taken out of context, or at best, misinterpreted.”

–that Dr. Robert McClelland, one of the doctors who tried to save JFK’s life, said the president’s head wound was caused by a shot from the front

Dr. McClelland made all sorts of statements over the years. But he was involved in a life-saving capacity with the President and was not able to determine where the shots came from. The autopsy did that and it was determined beyond doubt that all shots came from the rear of the President.

–that Dick Helms lied to the Warren Commission in 1964 when he said the CIA had only “minimal” information about Oswald

It depends on what your definition of “minimal” is. But other than the fact that Oswald visited Mexico City, the CIA’s knowledge of the future assassin consisted of only public domain information.

–that Helms’s man in Miami, Joannides, was called out of retirement in 1978 to obstruct the HSCA investigation

The CIA wanted to help the HSCA. They did not (and could not) want to give away all the agency’s secrets—especially about operations that had nothing to do with the JFK killing. Joannides, as an experienced man, was called on to deal with the HSCA investigators.

–that the Agency issued a misleading statements about Joannides to the ARRB in 1998

One possibility that Morley has evidently never considered is that the CIA people who responded to requests for information from both the ARRB and Morley’s attorneys misinterpreted, overlooked or improperly researched the relevant materials. In Morley’s world, the only answer is that they lied or purposely withheld materials.

–that the CIA continues to withhold key JFK documents, including those about Joannides’ sources, methods, and cover, in 2022.

There may be perfectly legitimate reasons for the CIA to do so. Sources and methods are classified.

Next, Morley speaks of “Three Key CIA Documents.”

–A Special Intelligence security clearance that Joannides received in the summer of 1963 while he was handling the AMSPELL program. Special Intelligence means wiretap material, the most sensitive sort of CIA operation. If Joannides was cleared for work in Mexico City or on the FPCC, for example, that would be significant.

Mexico City? I thought Morley’s theory was that Joannides went to New Orleans in the summer of 1963 to do nefarious work with the DRE and Oswald? If Joannides did run an operation designed to embarrass Oswald by having Bringuier debate him it wouldn’t be that surprising. But there is no evidence of that. Bringuier has said that he was an unpaid delegate working out of New Orleans and away from the base of the DRE in Miami. He said he never met Joannides and took the very logical action involving Oswald on his own. For his theories to truly hold traction, Morley will have to prove that Oswald was a secret agent that Joannides somehow turned against JFK. Good luck with that.

–A performance evaluation of Joannides from September 1978 when he was stonewalling the HSCA. What did the CIA say about Joannides’ handling of the JFK investigators?

Morley must be an eternal optimist if he really believes that Joannides’ report will say he did a great job “stonewalling” the HSCA.

— A five-page memo on a medal that Joannides received in 1981 after stonewalling the HSCA. Was Joannides rewarded for deceiving Congress about JFK matters?

As already noted, we know what he received the medal for.

Morley finishes his rejoinder to Reynolds with:

I’ll shut up now.

If that were only true. But his track record indicates otherwise.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Morley and JFK Revisited

Introduction

CIA critic and theorist Jefferson Morley has recently posted one of the few positive reviews of Oliver Stone’s new “documentary” JFK Revisited over at the far-left blog Counterpunch. Morley, who calls the aging Stone a “soldier” and “dogged veteran” of the culture war, believes a “new JFK fact pattern” has emerged since the premiere of his 1991 film JFK. According to Morley, Stone and his JFK Revisited collaborator James DiEugenio, who wrote the screenplay, have performed a service that the New York Times and Washington Post have thus far eschewed. That is to undertake a comprehensive review of the “new historical record” created since the JFK Records Act of 1992 which undeniably was a result of Stone’s original film. “What do we know today that we didn’t know yesterday?” Morley wonders.

This article will take a critical look at the assertions made by Morley not only in the context of JFK Revisited, but as they relate to Morley’s continued insistence that the JFK document releases are providing the world with significant new information that will enable researchers to finally uncover the truth about the JFK murder. Since Morley has been at work in his quest to create a mystery where none exists for many years now, this article can only scratch the surface as a rebuttal. For more information on Morley and his myriad claims, see:

My Blog

Myers/Russo-Drums of Conspiracy

Myers/Russo-Fanning Wisps of Smoke

Morley’s assertions from the Counterpunch article are in blockquotes.

Important Documents?

Under an October 22 order from President Biden, the CIA released 953 documents in their entirety for the first time, including two cables about Oswald written six weeks before Kennedy was killed. For the first time in 58 years, these two messages were completely declassified.

The last detail to become public was the identity of the CIA contract employee who initiated a request for more information about Oswald, an itinerant ex-Marine who contacted the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. The information was no smoking gun but the delay in disclosure was significant and revealing. Why didn’t the CIA release this trivial information long ago?

The 953 documents mentioned by Morley certainly sound significant. But the reality in most of these cases is that just a few inconsequential words were previously redacted. In some instances, the document has been previously released in another form. Let’s look at one example provided by Rex Bradford at the Mary Ferrell database. RIF 157-10004-10287 is a Church Committee record titled JMWAVE REPORTING ON LEE HARVEY OSWALD. This record featured redactions as recently as 2018 according to Bradford. Thanks to the new release, we now know that the information about Oswald came from DRE member Luis Fernandez Rocha. We also know that the information was not relayed to the State Department, the Secret Service and the FBI.

But all we have really learned is the identity of the DRE member (Rocha) who provided the information. The redacted document states “[redacted] delegate had radio debate with Lee H. Oswald of Fair Play for Cuba Committee sometime in August ‘63 on New Orleans station WDSU.” Students of the assassination didn’t need the unredacted document to know that DRE member Carlos Bringuier debated Oswald. Nor did they need this document to know that someone from the DRE [identified by their CIA cryptonym of AMSPELL] had provided the information. As Bradford admits, “the information in this particular case is already known and the unredactions are unremarkable.”

Note that Morley has been speaking out about the release of JFK records for years, but he has gone into overdrive on the issue since 2017 when the latest round of releases began. Morley has appeared on TV shows, YouTube, Internet podcasts, online articles and anywhere else that will have him. His goal is to convince the public that what has been released is significant. His motive for this appears to be his desire to continue these appearances so he can promote himself and his anti-CIA agenda which is primarily manifested in the books he writes (a fourth book weaving the Watergate scandal into the mix is upcoming).

Now, let’s look at the two documents that Morley says have been “declassified” for the first time in 58 years. What revelations do they contain?

The first document is RIF 104-10054-10293. The document describes Oswald’s visit to the Soviet embassy in Mexico City and mentions the fact that he encountered Valeriy Kostikov, a KGB operative. But this information has been known for years. The only thing new, as Morley points out, is the name of the CIA employee who requested more information on Oswald. That person was Barbara Manell (“Wife of Herb Manell” is the new info). But Mrs. Manell’s known cryptonym of “LA Dillenger” (sometimes “LA Dillinger”) was shown in previous versions of the document. So, the “new” version of the document provides absolutely no new information. That makes four inconsequential words and zero new information in the two documents Morley is so excited about.

Although Morley admits that the release of Manell’s name was “no smoking gun,” he still maintains that the delay in releasing the information was “significant and revealing.” What was so “significant and revealing” about the delay Morley doesn’t say. He does go on in the next sentence to call the information “trivial,” so it seems even he is conflicted regarding the importance of the release of Manell’s name.

We now know one of the Oswald cables was drafted by six top CIA officials. The authors included the assistant deputy director of the clandestine service, the counterintelligence liaison to the FBI, and the chief of operations in Agency’s Western Hemisphere division.

Again, this document has been available since at least 1995 as have the names of the six CIA officials to whom Morley refers. The only real identity not known for a period of time was that of "John Scelso." But it has been known for years now that Scelso was John Whitten.

Was the CIA’s Knowledge About Oswald Significant?

If the document made public in December 2021 had been disclosed in December 1963, the Warren Commission’s investigation would have been much different. The CIA would have been investigated for incompetence or worse. Here’s what these covert operators knew about the accused assassin while President Kennedy was still alive. They knew that Oswald, a former Marine Corps radar operator, had defected to the Soviet Union in October 1959 ...

But anyone with access to a newspaper knew that since Oswald’s defection made the wire services back in the day. How does the fact that he defected four years earlier specifically make him a danger to President Kennedy in 1963? Besides, the responsibility for keeping an eye on Oswald fell to the FBI since the CIA has no domestic law enforcement responsibility. And the task of protecting the president falls to the Secret Service. Both the FBI and the Secret Service were reprimanded for their poor performance in protecting the president.

Of course, if the CIA had specific information that Oswald was a threat, they would have had a duty to report that to the FBI and/or Secret Service. But they had no such specific information. They just knew Oswald was in Mexico City trying to get a visa to travel to Cuba where he would be no threat to JFK at all.

… that he offered to share military secrets with the enemy ...

There is little evidence that Oswald had any secrets to share. Zack Stout, who served with Oswald at the Atsugi airbase where he supposedly obtained his “secrets” about the U2 spy plane, told the HSCA that “all the operators were aware [the U-2] flew high and far—beyond our scopes, but it never registered with the radar crews anyway so no one paid any attention to it.” Stout noted that the men were deliberately not provided much information about the U2 since “if one man knew something, soon all did.” Stout also said that Edward Epstein’s notion as reported in his book Legend that the U2 checked in and out with radar operators using the call sign “Racecar” was untrue.

… that he returned with a Russian wife in June 1962 ...

This fact was known by the FBI and the Dallas Russian community, neither of which considered Marina to be much of a threat to anyone. However, the Russian community was less impressed with Oswald and some individuals were aware of his physical and mental mistreatment of Marina with one man witnessing it firsthand.

... that he went public with his support for Fidel Castro in the summer of 1963; that he had been arrested for fighting with CIA-funded Cubans ...

Morley and other theorists attempt to tie Oswald’s support for Castro specifically to the summer of 1963. The reason for this is their belief that Oswald was groomed to appear to be a Castro supporter through his self-initiated one-man Fair Play for Cuba Committee chapter and his confrontational interactions with the anti-Castro DRE in New Orleans. While it is true that Oswald’s pro-Castro activities ramped up in 1963, he had expressed his support for the Castro revolution in real time beginning in late 1958 while he was still in the Marine Corps. Oswald discussed Castro with fellow marine Nelson Delgado and spoke of his affection for the American William Morgan who traveled to Cuba to fight with Fidel. Oswald also frequently spoke to his wife Marina about his admiration for Castro and even tried to enlist her in a plot to hijack a plane to the island nation. Finally, Oswald’s support for Marxist doctrine dated back to when he was a teenager.

and that he made contact with Valeriy Kostikov, a Soviet intelligence officer, in Mexico City in October 1963.

Kostikov was working in the Soviet embassy under the cover of a consular officer. The fact is anyone who had business of any sort at the embassy might come into contact with him. Although Morley doesn’t seem to know this, the CIA surely did and was not unnecessarily alarmed by this fact. And unless the CIA was in possession of specific information tying Oswald to a KGB plot to kill Kennedy, there would be no reason for them to overreact.

Morley has heard this kind of logic before and he doesn’t like it.

The problem with this reasonable-sounding proposition is that there is no corroboration for it. That is to say, there is no CIA document–no Inspector General’s report, for example–accounting for the actions of the authors of the Oswald cables, sent on October 10, 1963.

If Morley were simply arguing that the CIA should have been held to the kind of scrutiny that was given to the FBI and the Secret Service, his argument would at least make sense and might resonate with more people even though an investigation of the agency would necessarily have to be limited because of their classified work. But he seems to be arguing that because the CIA was not held to account and they continue to withhold certain materials, they must therefore be guilty of covering up or participating in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Such an argument is unlikely to hold water for most reasonable individuals including the journalists that Morley believes should be praising Stone and parsing the “new” documents.

With all this information in mind, the CIA sent a reassuring cable—now available to the public in its entirety for the first time—telling its Mexico City office that Oswald’s two and half year stay in the Soviet Union had had an “maturing effect” on him. Forty-three days later, Kennedy was dead and Oswald was under arrest for the crime.

This statement is misleading for more than one reason. First, the opinion that Oswald had matured during his stay in the Soviet Union was not originally that of the CIA. The agency was merely quoting the words of officials at the US embassy in Moscow who delt with Oswald. Second, Morley once again tries to create the impression that startling new facts have been brought out by the 2021 file release. But this assessment by the embassy and the CIA cable quoting it have been available for some time.

The Agency had even intercepted and read his mail, according to a document declassified in 2000. The story of the supposed lone gunman, as told in the Warren Commission report, implied the CIA knew little about him, which simply wasn’t true ...

They had read his mail but stopped doing so in May of 1962. Anyone can search the Mary Ferrell site and see Oswald’s letters and decide if there was anything in them that represented a threat to President Kennedy. As I have shown above, there is no evidence that the CIA knew anything about Oswald that wasn’t already in the public domain save for his trip to Mexico City. And that sojourn did not raise sufficient red flags for the agency to consider him a threat to the president.

… a declassified routing slip shows that CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton received an FBI report that Oswald was living in Texas on November 15, one week before Kennedy was killed.

Again, so what? Besides, one of Morley’s theories is that Angleton was running an operation involving Oswald. If that were true, wouldn’t he already know where he lived?

Key Evidentiary Issues?

[Stone] brings forward the long-ignored testimony of three women indicating that Oswald was almost certainly not on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository at the time he supposedly fired at the presidential motorcade.

Despite Morley’s assertion, the story of the “girl on the stairs” has been known and debated for years in JFK circles and is the subject of a book. The theory is one of a few (including the “prayer man” and “door man” theories) that seeks to dispense with the voluminous evidence of Oswald as a lone gunman in one fell swoop. According to the theory, the “girl,” Vicki Adams, and another girl, Sandra Styles, promptly descended the backstairs of the Texas School Book Depository after the fatal shots were fired at JFK. Since they did not encounter Oswald, he must have been elsewhere at the time of the shooting and therefore innocent of the crime.

But the assertion wholly depends on the notion that the girls descended the stairs and were on the first floor within a minute of the assassination. But there are several reasons to doubt the “girl on the stairs” story. Instead of repeating those here, I’ll link to two excellent pages:

Steve Roe-Tripping on the Stairs

David Von Pein

[Stone] highlights the sworn testimony of photo technician Saundra Spencer who testified she developed photographs of Kennedy’s head wound showing that he had been hit by a shot from the front, photos not found in the official record of JFK’s autopsy.

There is a reason Spencer’s photos are not in the official autopsy record. They do not exist. As author Vincent Bugliosi put it, Spencer’s remembrances are “at odds with almost the entire official record.” Spencer’s recollections were provided 34 years after the assassination and she admits to seeing the alleged photos for just “ten or fifteen seconds.” Not surprisingly, Spencer’s memory of when the alleged photos were developed, who was there and what type of film was processed do not match official records.

Additionally, Spencer’s recollection of a hole in the back of JFK’s head is not supported by the autopsy materials or the observations of the autopsy doctors and may have been influenced by the discredited reports of the Dallas doctors who treated JFK. Notably, Spencer also recalls a particularly unusual photo. This alleged photo depicted the brain lying next to the body of President Kennedy. Considering the dubious nature of Spencer’s recollections, it is likely that mainstream media outlets have not publicized her allegations because, unlike Stone and Morley, they simply do not find them to be credible.

The Vietnam Question

[Stone] reviews the declassified documentation of Kennedy’s approach to Vietnam showing how U.S. policy changed drastically after Kennedy’s removal from the presidency.

Had he lived, JFK would have faced the same difficult decisions that ultimately fell to Johnson. But here is the real issue. The Oliver Stone-Jim DiEugenio view is that JFK was pulling out of Vietnam. And DiEugenio at least maintains this is an incontrovertible fact. But the issue is much more nuanced than DiEugenio and Stone would have you believe.

Mark White is a Professor of History at Queen Mary University of London who has written nine books. White has also authored an excellent article that presents both sides of the issue regarding JFK’s Vietnam plans. The crux of the DiEugenio-Stone argument centers on NSAM-263, an order issued by JFK in October 1963 authorizing the withdrawal of 1000 US military personnel from South Vietnam by the end of the year. “Historian John Newman has attached great importance to this,” notes White, “claiming it signified Kennedy’s intention to pull out of Vietnam — an argument that influenced director Oliver Stone…”

“Although superficially plausible, this interpretation is unpersuasive,” writes White. “The evidence makes clear that Kennedy viewed NSAM-263 as a way of indicating US displeasure at South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem’s policies and of pressuring him to increase his effectiveness in governing and on the battlefield.” Indeed, Swedish historian Fredrick Logevall noted, “No further withdrawals were envisioned [after NSAM-263]; more advisers could be sent in the future, if the situation demanded.” White concludes, “In other words, NSAM-263 was not part of a Kennedy plan to pull out of Vietnam.”

DiEugenio’s refusal to even consider the idea that Newman’s interpretation of NSAM-263 may be incorrect has no doubt lessened his status in the eyes of serious historians and journalists.

Alecia Long

In a sustained attack on Stone in the Washington Post, professor Alecia Long argued that Garrison’s investigation was motivated by homophobia. Shaw was a closeted gay man and Garrison used his private life to smear him, she contends in a new book. Long’s unsubtle implication is that anyone who believes Kennedy was killed by his enemies is an ignorant bigot prone to QAnon-type fantasies.

Morley makes a somewhat mystifying decision to attack Long’s article and ironically does so under the heading “A Straw Man.” Consider the following passage:

If Long thinks that Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Charles De Gaulle and Fidel Castro were deluded fabulists driven by homophobia, her argument is unconvincing, if not totally wrong.

But Morley has done exactly what he accuses Long of doing—created a straw man. Nowhere in her article does Long mention Truman, DeGaulle or Castro in any form. While she does mention Johnson, she does not suggest that the 36th president was a homophobic fabulist. Long’s book focuses on the homophobic nature of Garrison’s investigation and is the second book to do so.

Had Morley taken the time to read Long’s piece carefully, he might have realized that they shared at least some common ground. For example, Morley writes (emphasis added):

I see no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that any one CIA employee was guilty of plotting to kill Kennedy. But that does not mean CIA officers were innocent of malfeasance in the wrongful death of the president. To the contrary, I think, like LBJ and Castro, that the preponderance of evidence shows Kennedy was killed by enemies in his own government. These enemies cannot yet be identified because of the bizarre and suspicious secrecy that still surrounds the JFK files 58 years after the fact.”

Morley’s statement bears a similarity to a paragraph from Long’s Post article he is so critical of—a fact that he pretends not to notice:

"Both agencies [FBI and CIA] were undeniably guilty of dissemblance, if not outright deceit, but no documents have been released that indicate intelligence agency participation in the assassination. In other words, if there had been a conspiracy, extant documents do not reveal the names of people or operatives who would have participated in the president’s murder."

To conclude his attack on Long’s work, Morley trots out yet another straw man:

Rather than consider the new fact pattern found in the historical record, Long pledges allegiance to the theory of a lone gunman, which, let us remember, was duly endorsed by the racist Kennedy-hater J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Helms, the only CIA director ever convicted of a crime, If you don’t believe Hoover and Helms on JFK’s assassination, Professor Long argues, you’re a fool.

But Long has “pledged” no such loyalty to the “lone gunman scenario.” In her book, Cruising for Conspirators, Long refers to Oswald as the “alleged assassin” and offers no theory of the assassination. She makes it clear that her work shifts the focus from “binary questions” about the facts of the JFK murder to sexuality. She argues that “widespread beliefs about the criminality of homosexual men” led to Shaw’s identification as a suspect and shaped his prosecution.

Long’s article does not mention Hoover or Helms and accordingly does not imply that those who disagree with them are “fools.” And the fact that Hoover was a “racist Kennedy-hater” or that Helms was convicted of a crime does nothing to disprove the “lone gunman scenario.”

Tim Weiner

On Rolling Stone’s web site, former New York Times reporter Tim Weiner recycled the contrived claim that Stone’s movie was the product of, drumroll please, a KGB disinformation plot … Weiner argues that an article published in an Italian newspaper [Paese Sera] in March 1967 speculating about a CIA conspiracy to kill Kennedy was planted by the KGB and read by Garrison.

Weiner does write, “Six years later, Paese Sera planted the seed that flowered into JFK.” While this may be something of an overstatement, as Garrison expert Fred Litwin notes, “The impact of the allegations leveled by Paese Sera on the New Orleans district attorney is beyond dispute. Garrison was in receipt of this scoop by no later than mid-March 1967. We know this via several contemporaneous sources, including the diary of Richard Billings …”

Litwin continues, “Insofar as Garrison was concerned, Shaw was now directly linked to the CIA, although the DA’s sole source was a newspaper clipping. In combination with the beliefs of conspiracy buffs, Garrison pivoted away from his initial theory of a locally-based, homosexual/sadism & masochism conspiracy and began talking in public about something much much bigger.” That something was, of course, a CIA conspiracy involving Shaw.

Incidentally, Morley omits any mention of JFK Revisited’s claims regarding an alleged CIA-backed plot to kill French President Charles De Gaulle, cited by Weiner, that Paese Sera again had a hand in. Perhaps that is because he knows those claims are poorly supported.

It’s an ungainly contraption of an argument. As DiEugenio has pointed out in a heated post on his Kennedys and King blog, the Italian article was published after Garrison launched his investigation.

Yet again, Morley has created a false argument. Weiner knows the arrest came first and clearly states that Shaw was arrested on March 1st and the Paese Sera series began “three days later.” Nowhere does Weiner say that Garrison “built his conspiracy case” on that article. Weiner does write that Garrison “seized upon” the notion of a Shaw-CIA connection.

The Influence of JFK the Movie

Yes, JFK the movie influenced public thinking, but Oliver Stone didn’t make Americans believe in a conspiracy. Two statistically valid polls done by the National Opinion Research Center in late November 1963 found more than 60 percent of people in Dallas and nationwide believed more than one person was involved in Kennedy’s assassination. At the time, Stone was attending boarding school in Pennsylvania.

No, he didn’t make people believe in a conspiracy. But his film, which employed all his considerable skills as a filmmaker, has been enormously influential. Dave Reitzes, a noted JFK researcher, wrote “It is no exaggeration to state that seeing the movie changed my life. Since that evening, I have devoted thousands of hours to the study of what it was that happened that tragic day in Dallas, why it happened, and why there is such persistent confusion surrounding it.”

Reitzes continues, “While it took very little research to learn that some of JFK's claims about the assassination and the ensuing investigations were in error, sometimes grossly so, I believed for some time that the film was essentially credible in its key arguments. It was only after some eight or nine years that it began to dawn on me that I was wrong; that I had begun with a conclusion and given credence only to facts that supported my preconceptions; and that Oliver Stone had done the same thing, even to a larger extent than I had.”

Reitzes’ experience led him to write the JFK 100, a series of articles highlighting Stone’s “most egregious errors.”

Morley and Newman

... top Agency officers had a keen interest in Oswald held on a need-to-know basis six weeks before Kennedy was killed.

This belief by Morley has its roots in a 1994 interview with Jane Roman, a senior liaison officer on the CIA’s Counterintelligence Staff. Morley, accompanied by John Newman, showed Roman some documents and got her to say, among other things, “The only interpretation I could put on this [the language of the cable] would be that this SAS group would have held all the information on Oswald under their tight control."

Morley has published this thesis in several books and articles throughout the years to great acclaim in the conspiracy world. Although Morley has issued a few snippets, the opinion of Jane Roman on the matter is less well known. Roman wrote a letter to the Post in response and although she never sent it, the ARRB obtained a copy. Roman wrote that Morley and Newman made a “monstrous mountain out of a mole hill.” Roman noted that the interview was conducted by Newman which was not what she was led to believe would be the case.

Roman described Newman’s style as “belligerent and confrontational.” The CIA veteran called the fact that she had signed off on certain cables “a matter of routine coordination and review.” Roman noted that the original Post article by Morley was “sensationally misleading” adding “the information in the cable from Mexico Station was disseminated to State, the FBI, INS and Navy.” Roman denied being aware of any agency relationship with Oswald and concluded, “My statements have been seriously contorted, taken out of context, or at best, misinterpreted.”

... the FBI removed Oswald’s name from a security watchlist after he contacted the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City.

Morley has no evidence that there is a connection between Oswald’s visit to the embassies in Mexico City and his removal from the watch list. FBI agent Marvin Gheesling told a superior that he removed Oswald’s name from the list after learning Oswald had been arrested in New Orleans. Gheesling went on to explain that he had previously forgotten to remove Oswald from the list but should have done so upon his return to the US in 1962 since the purpose of the “stop” on Oswald was to alert the FBI “in the event [Oswald] returned to the U.S. under [an] assumed name.” Gheesling was disciplined for his actions and he was not the only FBI agent whose foul-ups elicited punishment by the bureau. In a perfect world, the FBI would have monitored Oswald more closely and the tragedy in Dallas might have been averted.

I talked about how a covert political action program, code named AMSPELL, generated propaganda about Oswald before and after Kennedy was killed.

There are many problems with this statement by Morley. First, there is positively no evidence that George Joannides, who was the Miami-based CIA handler for the DRE, the anti-Castro group Morley is referring to, even knew Oswald existed. Regarding the pre-assassination “propaganda” generated by the DRE about Oswald, it amounted to one press release asking people to write to their representatives requesting an investigation of the former marine. Note also that Oswald initially approached the DRE in the form of New Orleans delegate Carlos Bringuier not the other way around.

As far as the post-assassination “propaganda,” this consisted mostly of a magazine called Trenches put out by the DRE that referred to Oswald and Castro as “the presumed assassins.” Since the DRE received CIA funds Morley likes to claim that this publication was “CIA funded” and implies that the agency ordered the DRE to publish it. But according to an HSCA statement by DRE member Jose Lanuza, the group was instructed by Joannides to hold what they had on Oswald until the FBI came to pick it up.

Fifteen years later, [Joannides] was called out of retirement to stonewall the House Select Committee on Assassination, a performance that won him a CIA medal.

This is a canard that Morley has been repeating for years. Joannides received the Career Intelligence Medal which, as the name implies, is for a lifetime of service. The medal citation reads, “in recognition of his exceptional achievement with the Central Intelligence Agency for more than twenty-eight years.”

Rolf Mowatt-Larssen

In a compelling presentation to JFK researchers in Dallas in November 2019, [Rolf] Mowatt-Larssen made a cogent case that the gunfire in Dealey Plaza was the product of a tightly compartmentalized operation, mounted by Kennedy’s enemies in the ranks of the CIA that was probably known to only four or five people.

A through discussion of Mowatt-Larssen’s presentation is beyond the scope of this article. But checking Morley’s writings on the subject shows that this “compelling presentation” would become untenable as a practical matter rather quickly.

Mowatt-Larssen says the conspiracy was known to only four or five people, according to Morley. But he also says that Oswald would have been recruited into the plot by J. Walton Moore, George De Mohrenschildt and a third unnamed operative. Later, Oswald obtained a job at the Texas School Book Depository. Mowatt-Larssen doesn’t mention this but to be framed as a patsy, logically Oswald would have had to be “placed” in the depository as part of the plot. Oswald’s roundabout journey to learning of the position started when Linnie Mae Randall mentioned during a coffee klatch that the depository may be hiring. Oswald’s wife Marina then asked her friend Ruth Paine if she would call the depository on Lee’s behalf. Paine spoke to superintendent Roy Truly who told her to have Oswald apply in person. By my count, Mowatt-Larssen’s “tightly compartmentalized” conspiracy is up to seven people already. And that is not counting the “mastermind” (who Mowatt-Larssen evidently believes was Bay of Pigs boss Jake Esterline), Ruby and his recruiter and a second gunman—all of whom are key to Mowatt-Larssen’s theory according to Morley.

Conclusion

The withholding of these ancient documents is not smoking gun proof of conspiracy but it is solid evidence that the CIA still has something significant to hide about JFK’s assassination. If and when Joannides’s personnel file and thousands of other still-secret CIA records become public, the question of a large vs small conspiracy–or no conspiracy at all–will be clarified. We won’t see those files until December 15, 2022 at the earliest.

So, Morley is really saying that, if there is no evidence of conspiracy, he will give up the quest? That will never happen. Even if there is a full release of files, there will always be some discrepancy in the records that will allow Morley and like-minded theorists to continue their pursuit. And if any of the records scheduled to be released in December of 2022 are withheld, you can plan to see Morley take his familiar place in the spotlight to protest this injustice, all the while promoting his books. But, in reality, a partial release would be the best-case scenario for Morley. It would allow him to say once again, “we just can’t say for sure what happened to JFK until all the records are released.” That is nonsense, of course, since the case against Oswald as a lone gunman has stood the test of time. And most journalists, historians and scientists (if not the general public) recognize that fact.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Gus Russo Releases Mexican Files

Author and researcher Gus Russo has made available some previously undisclosed documents that, unlike the much ballyhooed but mostly yawn inducing 2021 National Archives release, could really be useful to researchers.

The documents, which are in Spanish, are from the files of Mexico's intelligence services and were obtained by Russo through Mexican associates:

Mexico's Secret Kennedy Assassination File: The Real New Document Release

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Monday, December 13, 2021

Once More ‘Round the Plaza

There is an excellent article on the upcoming JFK file releases at Washington Decoded by Robert Reynolds who is a professor at National Chi Nan University in Taiwan. Reynolds writes:

... it is also understandable that people might think there are still important documents left unreleased. A closer look at NARA’s latest data on the ARC, however, reveals just how unlikely this is.

Noteably, Reynolds also writes about the loudest media voice during the current (and previous) debate(s) regarding the files releases. Reynolds notes that:

Jefferson Morley, a former Washington Post journalist, cited [the DRE] file as an instance where “If and when they are released, these pages may shed light on the CIA cover-up that followed JFK’s murder.” This assertion makes no sense.

Check out the article to find out why.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Morley and the Monkey

Conspiracy theorist Jefferson Morley should learn to choose his friends more carefully.

In an article for Fair Observer that Morley promoted in a blog post, Peter Isackson tears into Politico’s Bryan Bender, whom he refers to as a “servile pundit,” for daring to maintain that:

longtime researchers almost uniformly agree that what is still being shielded from public view won’t blow open the case.

Bender’s article is about Biden’s controversial order that delayed the release of certain JFK assassination records.

Isackson writes:

Bender uses some clever journalistic rhetoric to make this assertion. He begins by citing a category that cannot be defined: “longtime researchers.” This presumably includes any number of people who have written about the assassination, whatever their point of view. It sounds as if these may be serious professionals, but it could be anyone and anything.

But surely, Isackson does not really doubt that Bender has access to JFK experts whoever they may be. All he must do is get a few email addresses. And I can assure Isackson from my own experience that most JFK researchers from experts to the average “Joe” posting on Internet forums are not expecting to see a “smoking gun” in the JFK files.

After this nitpicky start, Isackson goes on to make numerous undocumented or inaccurate assertions in support of his belief that the “secret JFK files” should be released. For example, he writes:

… a majority of official commentators have been intimidated or bribed to repeat a mendacious narrative …

Seriously?

In our current age where every person has instant access to the Internet via a cell phone in their pocket and where any number of nonsensical narratives of all types are perpetuated daily by “journalists” using blogs, social media and a variety of means, “official commentators” are being “bribed” and “intimidated” to hide the truth about the JFK case?

This completely unsupported statement places Isackson (and Morley by association) firmly in the Jim DiEugenio camp of those who believe that an unseen force is somehow suppressing the media from reporting the truth about the JFK assassination. Isackson, Morley and DiEugenio apparently believe that the last act of a graduating journalism student is not to accept a diploma but to swear not to reveal the JFK conspiracy.

Next, as if on cue, Isackson resurrects the “fact” that “Congress itself” believes “the assassination was the work of a conspiracy.” As noted in my previous article, that belief by the House Select Committee on Assassinations was based completely on the acoustics “evidence” of a shot from the “grassy knoll.” That “evidence” has been under fire since the late seventies and indeed has long been totally refuted. Absent the acoustics data, the HSCA merely rubber-stamped the WC findings although they added several new scientific contributions of their own that cemented Oswald’s guilt.

That brings us to the lynchpin of Isackson’s article which is a Miami Herald report on an allegation by the son of a former CIA asset, Ricardo "Monkee" Morales Sr., a Cuban exile. Morales allegedly told his son, Ricardo Jr., that he had trained Lee Harvey Oswald (who conveniently wore a name tag) as a sniper. The senior Morales also said that he was sent to Dallas two days before JFK’s November 22, 1963 murder on a “clean-up” mission that never came to fruition.

Predictably, Isackson is over the moon about Morales and his story even though the Herald tagged Morales as “a clever man who was also unreliable.” Isackson calls Morales’ “testimony” (it is no such thing) “very credible” evidence of the “apparently very real conspiracy engineered and executed by the CIA.” Isackson tells us that "experts" like Fernand Armandi believe Morales’ story is a “bomb.”

But this is the same Fernand Armandi who said that Antonio Veciana was “one of history’s most important individuals.” Like Morales, Veciana told a story of his involvement with Oswald, a tale that only emerged years after the “fact” and got better and better with time. The trouble is, even conspiracy theorists have now begun to disbelieve Veciana’s tales.

Ignoring the questionable value of Armandi’s endorsement, there are several reasons to doubt Morales’ account. What do we know about Morales?

He could probably best be described as a mercenary since he worked for Cuban G2, Venezuelan DISIP, the FBI and the DEA. Although Morley admits that the “details of [Morales’] story … have not been corroborated” he is still eager to illuminate Morales’ turn as a CIA asset. But none of the activity Morley cites occurred before 1964 nor does it include evidence that Morales was ever a sniper instructor.

Morales’ son says that when his father saw Oswald’s photo after the assassination, “he realized that this was the same character he had seen on the CIA training field.” Assuming for the sake of argument that Morales indeed was a sniper instructor at some point, he could have had the same experience that dozens or hundreds of other people had and reported to authorities after the assassination. These well-meaning individuals thought they saw Oswald in places where he could not have been. This phenomenon is well known by law enforcement officers and frequently occurs after a nationally publicized event.

Additionally, Morales identified neither the time nor place of the alleged training. The Herald article states that Morales was a sniper instructor, “in the early 1960s in secret camps where Cuban exiles and others trained to invade Cuba.” But Oswald was in the Soviet Union until June of 1962 leaving a small window of time for the alleged training. And any training for the “invasion” of Cuba sounds like it would be for the April 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion which lets out Oswald.

Morales told his son that he didn’t believe Oswald killed JFK because he, “witnessed him shooting at a training camp and he said there is no way that guy could shoot that well.” But Morales’ statement doesn’t describe Oswald’s documented ability. Oswald, who was trained by the marines in distances up to 500 yards, received a “sharpshooter” medal. Indeed, Master Sargent James Zahn told the Warren Commission that he was “an excellent shot” when compared to the general male population.

Isackson believes that Morales’ story is just the latest “bit of credible evidence” in the JFK saga. Regrettably, he also feels that the “very serious forensic evidence that the Warren Commission chose to ignore” points toward complicity in JFK’s death. The source of this forensic evidence is a YouTube video featuring none other than Cyril Wecht. Author Vincent Bugliosi devoted an entire chapter of his book to debunking Wecht’s dubious claims. Bugliosi wrote of Wecht:

The conspiracy theorists' leading medical forensic expert [Dr. Wecht] cannot even hypothesize a shooting from the right side or right front that is intellectually sustainable. Even with as fine a forensic mind as Dr. Wecht's, by definition no one can defend a position that is indefensible.

Placing the final nail in his own metaphorical coffin, Isackson conjures up one of the hoariest assertions in the annals of JFK nonsense. Even though Morales was killed in a bar brawl, Isackson believes that his name should be added to the infamous “mystery deaths” list along with Oswald and Dorothy Kilgallen since he “just happened to expire” before he could reveal the “troubling facts” that he was aware of. Of course, any number of people have promoted silly conspiracy theories for years and managed to escape the wrath of the CIA’s “cleanup squad.” One example is the aforementioned Wecht who has reached the ripe age of 90 despite many years of spirited conspiracy activity.

It seems that Morales kept quiet about his father’s allegations for the familiar and trite reason that he was “scared to death.” What has prompted him to speak now? Morales has somehow overcome his fear and in a move reminiscent of Veciana’s late-in-life book contract is “considering a TV deal in connection to his father’s life.” Of course, a story about Oswald as a sniper trainee would be the icing on the cake for any such TV package just as Veciana’s story of eyeing Maurice Bishop of the CIA with Oswald was the primary justification for his book.

With the publication of Isackson’s article and Morley’s promotion of it, the hyperbole surrounding the JFK files has reached a new high (or low). And Morley has once again demonstrated his willingness to fall for any conspiracy theory that promotes the CIA-did-it angle.

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