Assorted Accusations

Material from the 1990s

Blakey, G. Robert, and Richard Billings. Fatal Hour: The Assassination of President Kennedy by Organized Crime. New York: Berkeley, 1992.

According to Kaiser, I&NS 12.4, the authors seek to reinforce the case they made for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (Blakey was the Chief Counsel of the committee and Billings its Public Relations Director) and later in The Plot to Kill the President (1981). That case is that "Oswald acted on behalf of organized crime."

Brewton, Pete. The Mafia, CIA and George Bush: The Untold Story of America's Greatest Financial Debacle. New York: S.P.I. Books, 1992.

Clark comment: The focus here, despite the title, is the Savings & Loan crisis. For Surveillant 2.6 this "type of follow-the-dots conspiracy theory would implicate even the Domino Pizza delivery boy who might have rung the bell of an ex-Mafioso or failed S&L operator." Chambers is more succinct, calling it "conspiratorial drivel."

Dux, Frank. The Secret Man: An American Warrior's Uncensored Story. New York: Regan Books, 1996.

Warren, WIR 15.4, says that "Dux is so factually challenged that little in his book can be believed except the generalities that could have been gotten from books or newspapers. Hogwash is a totally inadequate term for The Secret Man.... [N]othing Dux writes of his work for the CIA is true," including any affiliation with the Agency.

Fonzi, Gaeton. The Last Investigation: A Former Federal Investigator for the House Select Committee on Assassinations Breaks His Oath of Silence. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1994. [pb]

Clark comment: If he had not been demonizing David Atlee Phillips for 15 years, it would be easy to accuse Fonzi of beating up on someone unable to defend himself. As it is, the most that can be said is that Fonzi is consistent. This is yet another in the long line of "Bishop theory" (Phillips = Maurice Bishop, etc.) conspiracy arguments. Tiresome, at best, but certain to "inspire" others. Surveillant 4.1 notes that Fonzi's conspiracy "cabal" includes Phillips, Richard Helms, E. Howard Hunt, Ted Shackley, and William Harvey. He "adds newer facts from unreleased documents and undocumented testimony to support his case."

Friedman, Alan. Spider's Web: The Secret Story of How the White House Illegally Armed Iraq. New York: Bantam, 1993.

Chambers: "Woolly conspiracy, relies heavily on circumstantial evidence."

Goddard, Dale, with Lester K. Coleman. Trail of the Octopus: From Beirut to Lockerbie -- Inside the DIA. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 1993. The Trail of the Octopus: The DEA, the CIA, and the Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 -- The True Story of How the U.S. and British Governments Conspired to Cover Up the Lockerbie Disaster. [U.S.]: Argonaut Press, 1995.

According to WIR 13.2, this is the story of Lester Coleman, who claims he was on a mission for "the world's most secretive and well-funded espionage organization--the Defense Intelligence Agency" which eventually involved the Pan Am explosion over Lockerbie. Clark comment: Is this fiction? Obviously, the 1993 title was deemed misdirected for maximum impact, so we see an adjustment in 1995 to the agencies then catching some heat.

Gurdon, Hugo. "Dirty Tricks II: How Moscow Faked CIA Plot to Kill Kennedy." Telegraph (London), 13 Sep. 1999. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

According to the upcoming book by Vasily Mitrokhin and Christopher Andrew, "[t]he KGB forged a letter purporting to be from Lee Harvey Oswald and leaked it to unwitting conspiracy theorists to spread the idea that the CIA was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy." The KGB also targeted Martin Luther King, planting "unfavourable articles in African newspapers in the hope that more radical black Americans would take his place."

Hosty, James P., Jr., with Thomas Hosty. Assignment: Oswald. New York: Arcade, 1996.

For Kaiser, I&NS 12.4, retired FBI agent Hosty's memoir "makes the strongest case ever made that the Cuban government was actually behind the assassination" on President Kennedy. The book is based on a mixture of Hosty's "memory, gossip, and documentary sources." The author believes that "Ruby shot Oswald for purely emotional reasons, and has no patience with attempts to link the assassination with organized crime."

La Fontaine, Ray, and Mary La Fontaine. Oswald Talked: The New Evidence in the JFK Assassination. Gretna, LA: Pelican Books, 1996.

Kaiser, I&NS 12.4, notes that this work "argues that anti-Castro Cubans killed Kennedy and implies that Oswald may well have been innocent." For the reviewer, the authors, "unfortunately, embellish" some "very important discoveries with far more speculative possibilities."

Mackenzie, Angus. Secrets: The CIA's War at Home. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997.

Peake, IJI&C 11.1 (a shorter version appears in History 26.3), finds that this book actually targets "the entire United States government," not just the CIA of the title. The book grows out of an antipathy fostered by harrassment by government officials when he was publishing an anti-war newspaper in Beloit, Wisconsin, in the early 1970s. For the reviewer, the problem is not with the events Mackenzie relates, but rather his analysis of those events and the selectivity of the topics he addresses. Perhaps, the only value to this book is that it "shows what happens when history is written to conform to preconceptions."

Moreno, Jonathan D. Undue Risk: Secret State Experiments on Humans. New York: W. H. Freeman, 1999.

Cohen. FA 79.2 (Mar.-Apr. 2000), sees the title as "somewhat misleading, given that this book deals primarily with the United States, with only passing references to Germany, Iraq, and the Soviet Union." However, "the material is chilling..., recounting the use of human subjects for ghastly experiments during the Cold War.... Moreno makes clear that American civilians and military personnel were sometimes exposed to unacceptable risks in various experiments, including those involving lsd injections and plutonium."

Newman, John. Oswald and the CIA. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1995.

Marjorie and Harry Mahoney, IJI&C 9.3, argue that the author "has done meticulous research on files released" by the CIA, "but has reached an erroneous conclusion. Unfortunately, this "is a book of implication and innuendo run amok.... Authoritative sources ... have repeatedly stated that the CIA had no operational interest in Oswald. He cannot, therefore, be tied in to any conspiracy theory involving the agency."

On the other hand, Namebase finds Newman's thesis more congenial than the Mahoneys: "Newman paints a picture of 'Oswald the file,' as opposed to 'Oswald the man.'... [T]here was significant interest [at the CIA] in Oswald prior to the assassination. There are also bizarre holes in this interest, suggesting that Oswald was being manipulated by CIA counterintelligence." Surveillant 4.4/5 suggests that conspiracy buffs will love this book, while those of a non-conspiratorial bent can save themselves "time spent with this long conspiracy research venture."

For Kaiser, I&NS 12.4, "Newman's book is more a series of vignettes and questions tha[n] a fully coherent argument." Newman does make clear, however, that Oswald "was far from unknown to American intelligence agencies." The focus of the book is on what American intelligence knew about Oswald; and the author "makes no effort to explain the assassination of the President, and consistently refers to Oswald as Kennedy's 'alleged assassin.'"

Pepper, William F. Orders to Kill. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1995.

Surveillant 4.4/5 notes that this piece of conspiracy theory comes from the attorney for James Earl Ray, Martin Luther King's assassin. The author claims that Ray "was a victim of a conspiracy involving the FBI, the CIA, Army intelligence, the Mafia and the Memphis, TN police."

Posner, Gerald L. Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

Surveillant 4.1 provides quotes from Tom Wicker -- "Case Closed is a ... conclusive destruction of one Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory after another"; William Styron -- "I cannot believe that any rational reader will ... still be persuaded that there was a conspiracy involved in the murder of John F. Kennedy"; Stephen Ambrose -- "The chapter on the Single Bullet is a tour de force, absolutely brilliant, absolutely convincing."

Frank, WPNWE, 15-21 Nov. 1993, is not so easily convinced, seeing Posner's book as "an all-too-transparent brief for the prosecution.... Posner avoids the inevitable blind alleys that fascinate critics, but he also turns away from the very real mysteries of the case.... [He] leaves the case not closed but murky."

Risen, James. "K.G.B. Told Tall Tales About Dallas, Book Says." New York Times, 12 Sep. 1999. [http://www.nytimes.com]

According to a new book by Christopher Andrew, based on files supplied to British intelligence by defecting KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin, the KGB "took several steps designed to link the CIA to the [John F.] Kennedy assassination."

These activities included "forging a letter from Lee Harvey Oswald to a CIA officer, E. Howard Hunt, asking for information 'before any steps are taken by me or anyone else'.... The Oswald letter was supposed to have been written about two weeks before Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas ..., but was actually created by the KGB in the mid-1970s.... The letter was then passed anonymously to three conspiracy buffs and entered circulation in the United States when it was picked up by one writer of self-published assassination books.... [A] congressional panel that re-investigated the Kennedy assassination in the late 1970s later concluded that the letter was probably a forgery."

Russo, Gus. Live by the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK. Baltimore, MD: Bancroft Press, 1998.

According to Latell, IJI&C 13.2, the author's mix of "rumors, irrelevant details, speculation, and hearsay" seeks to link Castro's Cuba to the assassination of President Kennedy. Although Russo's "lengthy, often tedious ... account reflect[s] a zealot's passion..., he has not presented ... any evidence or objective analysis to support such speculation."

Scott, Peter Dale. Deep Politics and the Death of JFK. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993.

To Frank, WPNWE, 15-21 Nov. 1993, Scott "has an irresistible impulse to connect almost everything." But, in this book, he becomes "increasingly bizarre" and ultimately "appears to go around the bend.... This is the sort of thing that gives skepticism a bad name."

Tarpley, Webster Griffin, and Anton Chaitkin. George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography. Washington, DC: Executive Intelligence Review, 1992.

Surveillant 2.6: "[T]wo associates of Lyndon LaRouche... 37 page chapter on Bush as CIA director.... Be warned: this is way, way out there."

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