Thursday, January 31, 2008

Gerald Patrick Hemming: Dead at 70

by JOHN DORSCHNER / Miami Herald

A '60s-era Miami soldier of fortune and a key figure for conspiracy theorists around the world, Gerald Patrick Hemming, is dead at 70.

His death was confirmed Thursday morning by the Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville, N.C. His son, Felipe, told The Miami Herald that he was found dead in his North Carolina home on Tuesday evening.

A shadowy figure who enjoyed talking about paramilitary operations and anti-Castro activities during the 1960s, Hemming became known in his later years mostly for statements he made about the Kennedy assassination to the Warren Commission and to many investigative journalists.

A Google search of Hemming's name and the Kennedy assassination turns up more than 4,000 hits.

Robert K. Brown, publisher of Soldier of Fortune magazine, said he knew Hemming well during the 1960s. "Gerry was an especially charismatic guy who on first impression came across very well. He was looked up to by a lot of Cuban exile groups. He was a big man, spoke fluent Spanish, a very intelligent guy...

"But Gerry tended to get carried away with this conspiracy stuff,'' Brown said, "and it was hard to tell where the fact ended and the fiction started.

''He knew so many things,'' said Felipe Hemming, who works for Miami-Dade fire rescue. ``He was still researching when he died...My dad was an operator. He wasn't a guy on the side of the road making up stories.''

Others disagree. Don Bohning, who was The Herald's Latin America editor for many years, said, "I never believed a word he had to say.''

In 1959, after Castro came to power, Hemming spent considerable time hanging out in Havana, often in the company of William Morgan, an ex-U.S. paratrooper who went to Cuba to join the rebel forces in the Sierra del Escambray to fight the Batista dictatorship.

A confidential U.S. Army report from March 1960 reports that Hemming was "stationed with Cuban rebel air force in Pinar del Rio. Claims he is a T-33 jet pilot with mission to intercept U.S.-based planes which fly over Cuba bent on destroying cane fields. Was formerly stationed in Isle of Pines.

"Subject wears Army fatigues, is armed with a pistol, and wears a U.S. paratrooper bade. He states he has been in Cuba for two years. He wears no insignia of rank.''

Hemming may have claimed being in the Castro military at the time, but other experts question that information.

However, Olga Morgan, the widow of William Morgan, recalls Hemming warning her husband to leave Cuba, or he would be killed by the Castro regime. 'He said, `Cuba is no good for you, with the new government. You need to get out. You have a family.' ''

Morgan didn't heed Hemming's advice. He was executed by a Cuban firing squad in March 1961.

In his 2005 book, The Castro Obsession, Bohning wrote that in the early 1960s, Hemming was among the soldiers of fortune who hung around the Time-Life bureau in Miami. An ex-Marine, six-foot-five, Hemming had organized a paramilitary force based in the Florida Keys called the Intercontinental Penetration Force.

At one point, Bohning wrote, Hemming used Time-Life stationery to write to the military aide of President Kennedy, seeking ''advice and constructive criticism'' for his forces. ''There is no indication any was forthcoming,'' Bohning wrote.

Hemming is survived by six children, said his son, Felipe.

A graveside service is planned for 2 p.m. Monday at Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery in Spring Lake, N.C. A memorial service in South Florida may take place later.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

JFK Emergency Room Moves to Underground Storage

By BRIAN BURNES /The Kansas City Star

The federal government has found a new home for medical equipment used in the attempt to save President John F. Kennedy’s life on Nov. 22, 1963: Beneath Lenexa.

The artifacts, known to archivists as the Parkland Memorial Hospital Trauma Room #1 collection, are now in underground storage at the Johnson County site, leased by the regional records center of the Central Plains Region facility of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Trucked in from the archives’ Fort Worth, Texas, facility, the items range from the poignant — such as a wheeled stretcher — to the mundane, such as a wall clock, a trash can, a wall-mounted towel dispenser and even the room’s front door.

All the artifacts have been secured within the Lenexa storage facility, according to Reed Whitaker, regional administrator of the Central Plains Region... READ MORE

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Oswald's Ghost: The DVD Extras

by DALE K. MYERS

I recently picked up a copy of Oswald’s Ghost, the new Kennedy assassination documentary from director Robert Stone, on DVD and thought you might like to hear about the 47 minutes of extra’s included on the disc. In addition to the 90-minute documentary (which comes with a superb option 5.1 surround sound mix), the DVD from PBS Home Video comes with three extra segments:

A Visit To Dealey Plaza / Running Length 9:33

Herein we’re treated to seven uncut minutes of Dealey Plaza vendor B.A. Russell Sr.’s stream-of-consciousness-like take on who really killed JFK.

Anyone who has ever been to Dealey Plaza will immediately recognize the pitch even if you’ve never encountered Russell personally. It seems all of these tattered vendors are interchangeable. Russell’s hundred-mile-per-hour delivery is full of inaccuracies, but what does that matter? This is all about selling something to the na├»ve tourists rambling through the plaza.

To the casual tourist, I’m sure some of these vendors must seem knowledgeable, even if they’re crazier than a bed bug. I understand why director Robert Stone didn’t use this segment in the final cut of Oswald’s Ghost – it really needs to be seen in its entirety (as presented in the Special Features section) to be fully appreciated. And as an uncut special feature, the audience learns more about the conspiracy movement and those who promote it in seven minutes than they could ever learn reading any of the books propped up in the pergola behind Mr. Russell. And that’s not a good thing – trust me. Who does Russell think was behind the evil plot? Let’s just say that Russell holds Barr McClellan in high regard.

Next, we’re treated to vendor extraordinaire Robert Groden. This is a two-and-a-half minute version of the sequence featuring Groden in the Dealey Plaza as seen in the Ghost. While Groden is dressed much better than his counterparts, the message is the same. Groden promises a small crowd of tourists, “You came here to learn about the assassination, so we’ll take two minutes of your time and explain what actually happened here.”

Of course, the poor souls gathered around Mr. Groden get his take on what happened – Kennedy was struck in the throat from the front, the back from behind, and the right temple from the front which exited the rear of his head and pushed him back and to the left. “The fact that there was a crossfire proves the conspiracy,” Groden declares. Oooooh-kay.

Groden goes on to tell his audience that a crowd of over 200 witnesses chased the grassy knoll assassin into the railroad yards. “When they got back there, they stopped a man who said he was with the Secret Service,” Groden says. “He showed Secret Service credentials and ordered everyone to leave saying that he was holding the area secure and he was going to protect the area and the evidence…In fact, he probably was one of the assassins.” Sure, Bob.

Groden says that “despite of all of this evidence of conspiracy and more than one shooter, the government insisted that we believe that all shots came from this window – the sixth floor easternmost window in the Texas School Book Depository Building. Did it happen that way? Of course not, but that’s what they wanted us to believe.”

“There has to be something intellectually lacking in somebody who can believe that one man pulled all of this off,” Groden declares. “People have chosen for themselves what they want to believe here.”

Of course, Mr. Groden is talking about the assassination. But in the context of the theme of Oswald’s Ghost, Groden could just as well have been talking about the conspiracy movement. While Mark Lane and Groden himself have led the charge, it has taken a virtual army of conspiracy mongers to twist the truth and convince the populace of something that didn’t happen. Yes. indeed. There is something intellectually lacking.

The Zapruder Film and Beyond / Running Length 22:11

Herein, Josiah Thompson presents a quite lucid version of how the Zapruder film came to be, how it was purchased and controlled by Life magazine, and how it eventually came to be seen by the American public.

This is followed by Mark Lane who characteriscally declares, “The Zapruder film shows that unless the law of physics had been repealed that day when the moving force hit the president in the head his head was blown backward – that’s the crucial find – value of the Zapruder film.” Lane goes on to tell us that the Zapruder film is a clock of the assassination and that when you count the frames between “the time of the effect of the first shot and the time of the effect of the last shot” you discover that “5.4 seconds” elapsed. “And in that 5.4 seconds,” Lane says, “it’s alleged that Oswald fired three shots. Nobody believes it. It’s a fantasy.”

Mr. Lane, of course, is right. It is a fantasy – one of his own making – because as anyone who has studied the actual facts of the case knows, at least 8.4 seconds elapsed between the first and last shot and Oswald only had to get off two shots during that time – the clock starting with the first of three shots. But of course, Mark Lane is stuck in a 1966 time warp. He and many other first generation proponents of conspiracy are still spouting the long-ago disproved malarkey they bamboozled the public with 42 years ago.

The suggestion that the Zapruder film was withheld from the public because it proved a conspiracy is balanced with comments from author Edward Jay Epstein who reminds us, “The Zapruder film wasn’t shown as a movie because in 1964 this was a very sensitive issue, seeing a president with his head shot off and his wife reaching for it and things like that. So it was considered, I think, in bad taste.” Oh, how times have changed.

Epstein also offers what I think is one of the more brilliant observations about the Zapruder film and its legacy: “The real impact of the Zapruder film is it created an illusion in the mind of the public that they were watching the actual event and could come to a judgment independently of knowing forensic evidence or even physics – how heads move – or anything else,” Epstein says. “So they would see the head move to the left and say, ‘Oh, he must have been shot from the front.’ “

Of course, Epstein is right. We see this phenomenon played out every day in Internet forums and chat rooms where participants practically come to blows arguing about the “obvious” shot from the front that drove the president’s head back-and-to-the-left. No one seems to have read anything about the physics involved which clearly dictates that a projectile weighing only a few ounces cannot move a human head (weighing in the neighborhood of 8-9 pounds) in the manner claimed by conspiracy theorists. It could only move a human head a few inches at best, and indeed we see the president’s head bob forward that amount at the moment of the head shot – a fact that fully supports Oswald’s shot from behind. But hey, since when have the facts ever stood in the way of good yarn?

Former House Select Committee on Assassination Chairmen Louis Stokes also makes a rare appearance in this section and describes the acoustic work which led to the committee’s conclusion of conspiracy. Stokes goes on record as saying that the National Academy of Sciences’ acoustic review of the HSCA work, performed in 1981, effectively refuted the HSCA’s acoustic work. “I think that we were able to dispel some of the rumors, we were able to give other precise evidentiary material to help the American people in terms of understanding the assassination,” Stokes says, “but certainly we were unable to offer them the kind of proof with respect to conspiracy.” Tell that to G. Robert Blakey, Mr. Stokes.

The late Norman Mailer also makes an appearance professing his belief after going the long way around the barn as it were – like many of us have – that Oswald did indeed commit the assassination on his own. Mailer also notes that the perfect conspiracy is an illusion, “There’s a terrible fault built into all conspiracies, which I’ve even decided can be stated as a law. And the law is that the only conspiracies that work are the imperfect ones. Because when you have a conspiracy with a number of people, the human factor – if the conspiracy is perfectly plotted – the human factor will derail it. Tension is enormous; the people in conspiracies not only have their strengths but their terrible weaknesses and imperfections. And so the perfect conspiracy never works.”

Journalist Hugh Aynesworth also appears and reveals that he was offered $75,000 (at a time when he was making $9,000 a year) to write a book about the big conspiracy. But Aynesworth turn it down, “I just couldn’t do it. I’d already had my fill in the first few days of false stories. There was so many of them.” So many others haven’t had the strong will that Aynesworth demonstrated.

Finally, Edward Jay Epstein makes another important observation, “When Jim Garrison conducted his whole charade in New Orleans, it showed how easy evidence could be manipulated and how dangerous it was to listen to what various authors and demigogs had to say on this subject.”

Unfortunately, they’re still at it – in Dealey Plaza and on the Internet.

Interview with Robert Stone / Running Length 15:46

In this final extra, we’re treated to an inside look at the mind of director Robert Stone (no relation to Oliver) and how Oswald’s Ghost came together. Stone clearly comes down in the lone gunman camp, but he notes that he wasn’t trying to prove that one way or the other, “I was trying to explore the idea of why the majority of the American public feel that’s not true and that it’s been covered up for all these years.”

“Well, I guess the mantra in making the film was always ‘This is not a Whodunit, this is a what that Whodunit has done to us. That’s what it’s about.”

Stone notes that this is not a case that can be argued in a normal fashion, “There’s no agreement on the basic facts of the case. They’ve all been – any particular document or photograph or whatever – there’s – people will claim, ‘Well, it’s been faked, it’s been forged, it’s been fudged, it’s been doctored – something like that. There’s no basic agreement on the facts of the case at all. So you can’t really have a debate like that in terms of a logical – like you would have in a criminal case – because all of the particular evidence is up for grabs.”

Most importantly, Stone notes that the Kennedy assassination had a tremendous impact on the people who are now running this country, whether they are the CEO of a large corporation or a politician running for political office. “That was the traumatic event for that generation. I don’t think you can understand any of the debates that are going on in Washington now without understanding the impact the Kennedy assassination had.”

According to Stone, the current lethargic attitude of society, the mistrust of any official institution (especially government at all levels), and the general complacence of people of all ages – particularly today’s youth – has a direct connection, whether they realize it or not, to the impact of the Kennedy assassination.

“Every country has its conspiracies, all over the world,” Stone says. “And conspiracies and ideas – views about the world – whether right or wrong, determine how people act, why people start wars and revolutions and intifadas and jihads and all of this stuff. It’s all based on perspectives on the world. Often times they’re not true. But what’s interesting is how people perceive history as much as the reality of history. The perception of history is perhaps even more important and more interesting. And that’s what the film does. It examines our great conspiracy theory and our – I think one of the most important, sort of world views – that I happen to think is mistaken –that distorts this country, and distorts our view of the world and our place in our own country and our place in the world.”

All in all, Oswald’s Ghost is a must see (if not own) documentary. And the extra’s included on the DVD make this a must have no matter what you think happened in Dealey Plaza.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

TV Alert: "Oswald's Ghost"

"Oswald's Ghost" airs 9-10:30 p.m. EST Monday, January 14 on PBS (check local listings). In stores Tuesday, January 15, on DVD with 45 minutes of additional material.

by GLENN GARVIN / McClatchy Newspapers

A bus full of Kennedy assassination buffs touring Dallas is hit by a car, and several of the conspiratorialists are killed. Their souls are whisked straight to Heaven, where like all newcomers, they get a brief welcome from God himself.

After explaining where the bathrooms are and what time dinner is served, God throws the floor open to questions. "Ask me anything," he urges them. "In the Hereafter, we have no secrets."

One of the conspiracy buffs immediately asks: "Can you tell us who really killed President Kennedy?" God, nodding solemnly, replies: "Sure. It was Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone."

The conspiracy buffs turn to one another, wide-eyed. "Holy smokes!" exclaims one. "This thing goes higher than we thought."

Sadly, this little joke is no joke. I had planned to start this piece with a mocking claim that, while watching the PBS documentary Oswald's Ghost," I had pinpointed yet another suspect in the Kennedy assassination: journalist and historian Priscilla Johnson McMillan. McMillan, author of several books, including a biography of Oswald and his wife called "Marina and Lee," worked for Kennedy briefly in 1953 when he was the junior senator from Massachusetts. A few years later, she became a foreign correspondent and interviewed Oswald when he defected to the Soviet Union in 1959, making her probably the only person in the world who knew both men. Obviously she must have been a kingpin in the assassination plot, I was going to say ... until I Googled her name and found tens of thousands of conspiracy nuts have already reached the same conclusion, and unfortunately, they're not kidding.

So go ahead, put McMillan's name on the list, along with Mafia capos, renegade CIA officers, Corsican narcotraffickers, crazed Texas oilmen, vengeful South Vietnamese politicians, right-wing Cubans, left-wing Cubans, thrill-killing homosexuals, Lyndon Johnson, even Earl Warren, the Supreme Court chief justice who spent his days writing landmark expansions of American civil liberties and his nights, if Oliver Stone's film "JFK" is to be believed, plotting murders for the military-industrial complex.

If that last paragraph seems a little silly to you - a little paranoid - then you are a member of one of our country's most battered and dwindling minority groups, the Americans who believe that Oswald, acting alone and without help, shot President Kennedy in 1963. Fully 70 percent of the country believes there was a conspiracy, that Kennedy was stuck down not by a lone gunman with pretensions to grandeur but by vast, powerful forces pursuing secret agendas from the shadows.

"Oswald's Ghost," airing as an episode of the PBS documentary series "American Experience," is not going to change anybody's mind, and doesn't try to, at least not very hard. Though the sympathies of filmmaker Robert Stone (no relation to Oliver) obviously lie with the lone-gunman theory, he's mostly concerned with the paranoid and self-reinforcing ripples the assassination sent through American political culture.

As Stone has said in interviews, "Oswald's Ghost" is less a whodunnit than a what-the-whodunnit-done-to-us. With interviews with everybody from loopy conspiracy freaks like Mark Lane to erudite historians like Edward Jay Epstein and Robert Dallek, illustrated with an impressive collection of little-seen footage of Oswald and the assassination scene, it spins a tale of a society running off its tracks.

The bullets fired that morning in Dealey Plaza, "Oswald's Ghost" argues, ricocheted through history: Johnson, certain his predecessor had been killed by agents of Fidel Castro, tried to show he wasn't intimidated by dramatically (and disastrously) escalating the war in Vietnam. Youthful leftists, angered by the war and convinced of the futility of conventional politics by the assassinations of Kennedy, his brother Robert and Martin Luther King, retaliated with furious violence that ended in the rioting at the 1968 Democratic convention and guaranteed the election of Richard Nixon. That in turn touched off Watergate, which led to revelations of CIA druggings and murders - and, like some kind of endless loop of macabre tape, led back to the JFK assassination with the disclosure that the Kennedy brothers had been plotting the murder of Fidel Castro. Did Castro, as Johnson believed, strike back in Dallas?

The show's title is lifted from a section of Norman Mailer's biography "Oswald's Tale" in which Mailer ruefully observed that Oswald, a warped and frustrated loser while alive, fulfilled his ambition of rerouting history in death: "Can there be any American of our century who, having failed to gain stature while he was alive, now haunts us more?"

The irony is that Oswald achieved his mark on history only because nobody believes he was intelligent enough to have actually killed a president. The assassination's mythic hold over American politics derives from the idea that "somebody else" did it, that Oswald at most was a patsy for more sinister and powerful forces. If the picture painted by the Warren Commission was correct - that Kennedy was killed by a crackpot high school dropout whose wife wouldn't have sex with him the night before - the assassination would have been a tragedy, but little more. The nation would have mourned briefly, then moved on.

The real puzzle is that we consider it anything more than that. Modern forensics and the declassification of evidence from the FBI, CIA, the Warren Commission and a congressional investigation have left us with a mountain of evidence against Oswald: The bullets that struck Kennedy have been matched to Oswald's rifle, which was found at the scene of the crime bearing his palmprint. (The gun was purchased through the mail with an order form filled out in Oswald's handwriting and shipped to his post-office box. His wife took photos of him holding the rifle; she sent one to a friend, inscribed with a chuckle that would soon curdle in her throat: "Hunter of fascists, ha ha!") Bullets from the gun have also been linked to an earlier assassination attempt, against a right-wing Texas politician - a shooting Oswald confessed to his wife.

Autopsy photos make it clear that all the bullets that struck Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally were fired from the sixth floor of a Dallas building where Oswald worked, and from which he vanished within minutes of the crime. Five witnesses watched Oswald kill a Dallas cop who stopped him for questioning, and he was still carrying the murder weapon when he was arrested. If Los Angeles prosecutors had even half as much evidence against O.J. Simpson, he would be in jail today.

Of course, Oswald could have been the triggerman for a larger conspiracy. But why would anyone planning such a difficult and dangerous mission put it in the hands of a lifelong screw-up and misanthrope like Oswald? He quit the 10th grade to join the Marines, left the Marines to defect to the Soviet Union, left the Soviet Union for menial labor in the United States, and shortly before the assassination, was rejected in his attempt to re-defect to Moscow or Havana.

Mailer, once so perfervid in his belief that Kennedy was felled by a plot that he argued there were several different groups of separate conspirators shooting at the president that day in Dallas, finally admits in "Oswald's Ghost" that the evidence is overwhelming that Oswald acted alone.

"Like most conspiratorialists, I wanted it to be a conspiracy," he says in an interview taped last year before his death. "But I kept trying to think how a conspiracy could have put the thing together, and I must say, I failed notably ... The internal evidence just wasn't there."

But evidence has never had much to do with the way Americans see the Kennedy assassination. It's always been a national inkblot into which we project our fears and anxieties of the moment. The early conspiracy theories, at the height of the Cold War, tended to involve Soviet or Cuban agents. As American disillusionment with the Vietnam War grew, the CIA became the prime suspect.

During the gasoline shortages of the early 1970s, suspicion fell on the oil companies and later the Mafia. In the uncertain days after the Berlin Wall fell, Oliver Stone was wildly successful with a movie in which just about every public institution in America - Congress, the Pentagon, the Supreme Court, the FBI and CIA, the news media - participated in either the assassination or its coverup.

As "Oswald's Ghost" notes, that doesn't seem likely to change. "Americans are prone to paranoid thinking," says sociologist Todd Gitlin. "The belief that tiny cabals of people are actually pulling the strings runs back into the Book of Revelation."

Sadly, in a post-9/11 world where airliners turn into death ships that topple skyscrapers, where every traveler's shoe is a potential bomb and companies screen their mail for anthrax, there's plenty reason to be paranoid.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Jack Ruby: Mob Hitman?

by DALE K. MYERS

Salvatore (Bill) Bonanno, whose appointment by his father, Joseph Bonanno, to the second most powerful position in the Bonanno crime family in the mid-1960s touched off what became known as the “Banana Wars” and led to the exile of the Bonannos to Arizona, died last Tuesday, January 3, at his home in Tucson at the age of 75.

Besides being a “made” member of his father’s crime family, Mr. Bonanno was also a writer and occasional television producer, and gave extensive interviews to the author Gay Talese as the subject of Honor Thy Father, Mr. Talese’s 1971 account of the Bonanno family.

Bill was also very talkative along the way about the JFK assassination. Bill claimed that Kennedy was done in by the Chicago, New Orleans and Miami families without the knowledge of the others, and that the big clue was Jack Ruby, a Giancana Chicago hanger-on who was conveniently dying of cancer.

Too bad no one told Ruby he was part of the big plot. As everyone who is familiar with the facts knows, Jack Ruby was still at his Oak Cliff apartment on the morning of Oswald's murder at the time Dallas police chief Jesse Curry told the press the night before that Oswald would be transferred. Either Ruby was pretty cavalier about his pre-ordained appointment with destiny (as sketched out by Bonanno) or he wasn't involved in the so-called mob "plot" at all. Given the facts surrounding Ruby's eventual encounter with Oswald, it would seem Bonanno got it all wrong.

As we know, Ruby left his apartment with his beloved dogs later that morning (around 11:00 am - nearly an hour after Oswald might have been transferred) for a ride to the downtown Western Union office so he could send a $25 money-gram to one of his strippers. After waiting in line, Ruby finally got the money telegraphed at 11:17 a.m. Leaving the Western Union office, Ruby walked one block to the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters where he shot Oswald in a spur of the moment at 11:21 a.m.

It's pretty obvious from the timing of the events that Ruby couldn't possibly have planned to shoot Oswald and consequently couldn't possibly have been involved in a mob plot to rub out Oswald, no matter what Bonanno or anyone else claims.

I remember a college-aged student one time asking me after a lecture on the subject some twenty years ago whether or not I had considered that Ruby might have been tipped to the exact time of Oswald's transfer by inside police sources. I explained that Ruby was not in a position at the crucial time to receive a phone call.

"Couldn't they just have paged him?" the student asked.

I laughed then, though today I suppose the student's question might involve a cel phone, a GPS device, or some other modern technological marvel.

Times sure have changed, but one thing that will never go out of fashion is the willingness of a great many people to believe the impossible - especially when it comes to the Kennedy murder.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Bhutto Connection

by DALE K. MYERS

According to the world press, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto has much in common with that of President John F. Kennedy. I couldn't agree more. It seems that no one can keep the facts straight in either case.

Here's the Times of India's take on the parallels:

"...Both were attending rallies, both were traveling in open topped cars when they were killed and both died in mysterious circumstances. In Kennedy’s case, the mystery has never been solved..."

What's that? Never been solved?

That's right, according to the Times of India, the Warren Commission set up to investigate the assassination concluded that all the three shots came from the "fifth floor" of the Texas School Depository building. But then, in 1976, the House of Representatives re-investigated the Kennedy killing with startling results concluding that though Oswald fired the shots, there was another unknown gunman firing at the President from the front. The reason for this belief, according to the Times of India, is that "...Kennedy’s head jerked backwards when shot..."

Of course, Oswald shot Kennedy from the sixth floor (not the fifth), the HSCA re-investigated Kennedy's death between 1976-79 (not 1976), and the HSCA concluded that an unknown gunman fired one missed shot at Kennedy from the grassy knoll based on acoustic evidence (which has since been debunked).

It's not so much that the Times of India scrambled the basic facts, it's the unbelievable realization that in the wake of the Bhutto assassination the world at large has been reporting the Kennedy assassination as an unsolved mystery. Here's just a sample of reports:

"...But, as in the JFK murder, the truth will never be known..."

"...the killing of Benazir Bhutto will join other A-list mysteries such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy..."

"...Unsolved cases: President John F Kennedy was killed by a sniper in Dallas in 1963. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested, but many people do not believe he alone was responsible. Days later, he was shot dead by a man with Mafia links who himself died soon afterwards. A 1979 report by a House Select Committee concluded Oswald was likely to have been part of a conspiracy..."

It seems in this technological age that all that is required to re-write history is a cabal of unnamed people who don't want to believe the facts. Apparently "gut feelings" are the new champion of truth.

With that as a mantra, I doubt very seriously that anyone will ever get at the "truth" of anything - including the Bhutto murder.

Dealey Plaza: A Shabby Situation

by DALE K. MYERS

The following letter appeared in the Dallas Morning News' Letters to the Editor on January 7:

"Visiting Texas over Christmas, I was most impressed by the warmth and spirit of the people, and I will take back to the U.K. further ammunition to counter the relentless anti-U.S. (and anti-Texan) propaganda onslaught so prevalent in the U.K. and Europe.

"There was just one incident that I found most disappointing and disturbing. When I was seeking to pay respects at the site of the JFK assassination, it was impossible to find any peace and solitude. Instead, an army of scruffy touts, who repeatedly pursued us all over the site and did not let up in their loud and aggressive marketing pressure, continuously badgered us.

"We found this a pretty shabby situation in stark contrast to other sites we visited, and particularly at a site of such national sensitivity.

Harry Laubscher, London, England"

I know Mr. Laubscher is not the only one to encounter "scruffy touts" in Dealey Plaza. Many visitors have - including myself. Years ago, I asked museum archivist Gary Mack if something couldn't be done about the behavior of these ruffians. As I recall, Mr. Mack said that because Dealey Plaza was public property little could be done to prevent a particular group of people from having access to the grounds. While the few aggressive vendors that populate Dealey Plaza have as much of a right to stroll the grounds as anyone else, there surely must be (or should be) a Dallas city ordinance that protects the rights of visitors like Mr. Laubscher who simply want to visit that National Historic Landmark and pay their respects in peace without some clown accosting them with graphic, gore photos from Kennedy's autopsy.

How about it, Dallas?