Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fair Play for Bugliosi: John Kelin Reports


It seems that Vincent Bugliosi can’t even get a fair shake from former Fair Play Internet magazine editor John Kelin, who reports his “initial impressions” of the former L.A. prosecutor’s recent book, “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” without reading the entire 1,600 page tome and apparently without any intention of doing so. So much for fair reporting.

Still, it’s very interesting to see what lengths conspiracy advocates will go to keep their flock from reading anything that might lead them to revelations about the JFK assassination case – especially if that enlightenment leads to their defection from the “sacred cause” that a few like Mr. Kelin have taken it upon themselves to lead.

In his recent essay, “An Ass of You and Me or, Buyer Beware: Initial impressions, but not really a review, of ‘Reclaiming History’,” appearing on the Bugliosi-bashing website edited by Rex Bradford, Kelin acknowledges that he only devoted “about twenty minutes” to writing his negative impressions of Bugliosi’s book. Believe me, it shows.

Kelin questions why Bugliosi would spend twenty years researching and writing a book that ultimately “merely” backs-up the 1964 Warren Report findings that Oswald did it alone. Kelin quotes Bugliosi as saying that he wrote it to help balance the debate. Kelin then adds:

“Well, maybe. But what was the purpose of the Warren Report? Early Commission critic Sylvia Meagher once observed that if the Report cannot stand on its own – if it requires additional books to prop it up – that in itself is ‘a total default’ to its critics.”

What self-serving nonsense. Mr. Bugliosi wrote in his introduction (and has said many times in subsequent radio and television appearances) that the case against Oswald is not a complicated case at its core; hundreds of conspiracy books and allegations (including the late Sylvia Meagher’s Accessories After the Fact) have made it the most complicated murder case in the history of the world. Bugliosi wrote:

“Refusing to accept the plain truth, and dedicating their existence for over forty years to convincing the American public of the truth of their own charges, the critics have journeyed to the outer margins of their imaginations. Along the way, they have split hairs and then proceeded to split the split hairs, drawn far-fetched and wholly unreasonable inferences from known facts, and literally invented bogus facts from the grist of rumor and speculation.” [RH, p.xxvi]

Having spent the better part of 32-years personally investigating hundreds of conspiracy charges (a good decade of it as a conspiracy believer), I find Mr. Bugliosi’s summation of the Warren Commission critics spot on. I’m sure that Ms. Meagher, Mr. Kelin, and the rest of the conspiracy community would prefer that the general public simply continue to embrace their brand of truth without question for years to come. Surveys show that a good portion of the American public have done just that for more than four decades. Too bad. The conspiracy buffs have short-changed the public big-time, and anyone who reads Mr. Bugliosi’s book will come to that realization before very long. Perhaps that’s why the conspiracy community is so cheesed-off that Bugliosi’s book even exists.

So here we are again, faced with a conspiracy community complaining that they are only a solitary voice in a wilderness of government lies seeking simple justice for poor Oswald.

Mr. Kelin himself paints a picture of a community of researchers squaring off against a four decade media onslaught of books and television programs that have unjustly convicted Oswald again and again. Of course, nearly all of the pro-Warren Commission books and television programs produced over the last forty years (and the total number pales in comparison to the anti-Warren Commission rhetoric produced over the same period) were in response to the unfounded doubts and ridiculous allegations championed by the conspiracy community that Kelin represents, not the other way around.

Mr. Kelin notes in his essay:

“...if you like to read everything on this case, then by all means spend the fifty dollars that is the book’s suggested retail price. Otherwise, hang on to your money.”

Everything on the Kennedy case? That’s a ringing endorsement if ever I heard one. But of course, Mr. Kelin really wants his readers to hang on to their money – until his forthcoming book, Praise from a Future Generation, hits book shelves this fall. Praise, according to Kelin, is the story of the early, “first generation” Warren Commission critics, whom Kelin believes were champions of truth regarding the Oswald case.

Mr. Bugliosi, on the other hand, hammers these first generation critics in his chapter entitled, “History of the Conspiracy Movement,” which is the reason, no doubt, for Kelin’s anti-Bugliosi essay. Kelin responds thusly:

“...In a section of his book describing the earliest Commission critics, [Bugliosi] emphasizes their politics, which were mostly, but not exclusively, left-leaning. The first published book on the assassination [Thomas Buchanan’s Who Killed Kennedy?], Bugliosi writes, was by ‘an expatriate American Communist living in Paris.’ Another early author [Joachim Joesten, Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy?] was ‘a German Communist party member.’ The next two books [Harold Weisberg’s Whitewash and Mark Lane’s Rush to Judgment] were written by ‘leftists sympathetic to Marxist ideology.’ “

Kelin writes that “this is reminiscent of fifties-style red baiting,” and that “if such criticisms are valid, then it is equally valid to argue that Vincent Bugliosi, as a former big city prosecutor, is a thoroughly entrenched Establishment figure who is parroting the party line, and summoning his considerable rhetorical skills in an effort to bully skeptical readers and reassure others...”

Mr. Kelin must not be aware of Bugliosi’s anti-Establishment rip The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President or of Bugliosi’s forthcoming book in which he promises to again blast the right-wing Establishment. I guess Mr. Bugliosi is not as entrenched as Kelin wishes.

As far as “red-baiting,” Kelin’s usage of the term when referring to Bugliosi’s chapter on the early critics is nothing more than a transparent attempt to poison-the-well. To further bolster his position, and his forthcoming book sales, Kelin writes:

“...The ‘German Communist party member’ Bugliosi refers to is Joachim Joesten, the author of Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? Bugliosi happily acknowledges (on p. 990) that his sources on Joesten include, via the Congressional Record, Gestapo documents seized by British authorities at the end of World War Two. Copies of these Gestapo records were provided to the Warren Commission by then-CIA Deputy Director for Plans Richard Helms. One of these Gestapo documents, translated by the CIA, was a memorandum from 1937 stating that while living in Copenhagen, Joesten published an article in a French newspaper warning of Germany’s military threat to Denmark. So Joesten’s life work includes opposing Hitler, and in Reclaiming History, Vincent Bugliosi relies on documents prepared by Hitler’s Nazi regime to pass judgment on his political reliability. This, I think, is just a tad questionable...”

But, of course, Mr. Kelin is not telling the whole truth here.

Joachim Joesten, who told authorities himself that he was a “left-wing liberal,” was peddling a manuscript in early 1964, which he claimed contained “extensive documented findings convincing him of Oswald’s innocence and relating various clues developed by him as to the real assassin.” Naturally, the FBI launched an investigation to determine the “full details in Joesten’s possession concerning the assassination.”

That investigation determined that Joesten’s “documentation” of Oswald’s innocence was based on nothing more than newspaper clippings and a four-day visit to Dallas in 1963. Mrs. Joesten indicated that her husband had been making “rambling senseless statements” after his return to New York from Dallas and that she felt he was on the verge of a “nervous breakdown.” Joesten quickly skipped town and flew to Germany where he attempted to sell his manuscript to Stern

The manuscript eventually became the basis for his book Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy? which was published by Marzani and Munsell of New York City – a known Communist front organization.

In 1999, Vasili Mitrokhin, a former chief archivist for the FCD, the foreign-intelligence arm of the KGB, who smuggled notes out of the KGB archives over a 12 year period and later defected, revealed in the book, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, that publisher Carl Aldo Marzani (codenamed NORD), an Italian-born American Communist and Soviet agent, was extensively used by the KGB.

Using KGB monies, Marzani was responsible for publishing hundreds of titles that promoted the Soviet system and served as an outlet for Soviet propaganda during the height of the Cold War. (Marzani served two years in Federal prison during 1949-51 for making false statements regarding past Communist Party membership. His publishing partner, Alexander Ector Orr Munsell, was reported to have financially supported the Communist Party and its front organizations.) Marzani and Munsell, who were being subsidized by the KGB, published Joesten’s book within five weeks of receiving the manuscript.

Mitrokhin wrote in his book that Joesten’s book, Oswald: Assassin or Fall Guy?, “ established two themes which were to recur in Soviet and Russian active measures for the next thirty years; a plot by [oil magnate H.L.] Hunt and other right-wing fanatics; and the involvement of the CIA.” [Sword and the Shield, pp.227]

Sound familiar? The fact is, the allegations made by Joesten in his books, articles, and pamphlets are outrageous lies and fly in the face of known facts.

In October, 1964, Richard Helms sent J. Lee Rankin a “set of German documents seized by the U.S. authorities at the end of World War II.” [CD1532]

The documents show that the German Gestapo began focusing on Joesten in 1936, at a time when the Communist Party had been outlawed in Germany. (Joesten had been a member of the German Communist Party since 1932 and had held Communist meetings at his place of business.)

It was discovered that Joesten had attempted to establish a connection with Communist publishers in order to “depict the economic and cultural conditions in the USSR in a most flattering manner.”

In 1937, Joesten wrote “anti-German” articles in a French newspaper which charged that Denmark’s military defenses were lax and that German troops could take the Danes “without drawing a sword.” The documents describe Joesten as “a notorious Marxist well-poisoner” who failed to remain loyal to Germany.

By November, 1937, the Gestapo demanded “that his German citizenship be revoked and that his possessions be confiscated and declared as forfeited to the state.” By then, Joesten had already fled Germany. [CD1532]

Two weeks after the release of the Warren Report, Joesten wrote to Nicholas Katzenbach, acting Attorney General of the United States, charging five high-ranking law enforcement officers in Dallas (Jesse E. Curry, J. Will Fritz, J. Gordon Shanklin, James P. Hosty, Jr., and Forrest V. Sorrels) with “conspiring among themselves and with others to assist and shield the persons responsible” for the assassination of JFK. According to Joesten, all of this could be proved “by reference to the Warren Report.” [CD1548]

All of this, and more, is described in documents available at the National Archives.

Mr. Kelin’s characterization of Joesten as a heroic Nazi fighter, or of Bugliosi relying solely on captured German documents for his assessment of Joesten’s political bent is as misleading and unfair as it gets. But then, this has been the modus operandi of the conspiracy community for over four decades, hasn’t it?

Mr. Bugliosi writes in the introduction of his book:

“I want to assure the readers of this book that I commenced my investigation of this case with an open mind. But after being exposed to the evidence, I have become satisfied beyond all doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy, and beyond all reasonable doubt that he acted alone. I am very confident that the overwhelming majority of objective readers of this book will end up feeling the same way.” [RH, p.xliv]

What facts does Bugliosi present that convinced him of Oswald’s guilt and which he believes will convince any objective, reasonable reader of his book?

Mr. Kelin and the conspiracy community don’t want you to know. That says it all, doesn’t it?


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