Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jim DiEugenio and the ‘Gang of Three’


In his recently published critical review of Vincent Bugliosi’s five-pound tome Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, author and conspiracy diehard James DiEugenio speculates on just how yours truly (that’s me) went from believing that a conspiracy was behind the president’s death to believing that Oswald was alone responsible for the shooting.

To hear Mr. DiEugenio tell it (and you can hear him tell it in an appearance on Black Ops Radio, a left-wing Internet radio show focused on all things anti-government), I reportedly turned to the dark side after a religious-like conversion akin to the one encountered by St. Paul along the road to Damascus – visions and all.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who has experienced such a radical transformation. According to Mr. DiEugenio, author Gus Russo (Live By the Sword and the forthcoming Brothers in Arms: The Kennedys, the Castros, and the Politics of Murder) and assassination researcher extraordinaire Todd W. Vaughan have had equally stunning conversions, so much so, that DiEugenio labels us collectively as ‘The Gang of Three.’ Cute.

What crimes have the ‘Gang of Three’ committed? The unthinkable, according to DiEugenio – the rejection of beliefs we once held regarding the president’s assassination.

Yes, folks, after years of diligent research at the National Archives, extensive interviews with key principals involved in the assassination events and its investigation, and (in my case) scientific investigation using modern computer tools, we came to believe that much of the information presented to us in conspiracy books, films, and periodicals – which we at one time had accepted as gospel – was unsupportable, and in many cases irrational and illogical, when weighed against the mountain of verifiable evidence to the contrary.

In short, we changed our minds. You grow, you know?

As punishment for our unrelenting search for the truth, and our ability to think clearly and follow the evidence wherever it leads, we have been labeled (OMG!) turncoats – and worse – by the loudest members of the conspiracy crowd; people with so little faith in their listeners’ ability to separate fact from fiction that they feel the need to poison-the-well with lies and innuendo in order to level the playing field.

For instance, Mr. DiEugenio offers up an interview I gave to John Kelin in 1982 to prove that I was once “one of those nutty conspiracy theorists” that Mr. Bugliosi hammers so hard in his book Reclaiming History.

No doubt, DiEugenio muses, Mr. Bugliosi does not know or care about “Myers' sordid past” since he fails to mention it in his book, sparing “both of them a lot of uncomfortable explaining.”

Here, Mr. DiEugenio explains why I’m hiding from myself, writing, “…Like most authors who undergo a St. Paul type conversion on the road to Damascus, Myers today does not like to talk about his previous position or how complete his makeover was.”

Huh? Contrary to Mr. DiEugenio’s colorful and completely made up assertion, I’ve never shied away from discussing my views on the Kennedy assassination – either past or present. Just ask. Of course, Jim DiEugenio hasn’t ever bothered with such trivialities, nor has he lifted a finger to find out what I think or thought about the Kennedy murder.

If Mr. DiEugenio had bothered to investigate his own claims he would have known that my earliest conspiracy beliefs are a matter of public record having been documented through multiple radio-talk show appearances, high school and college lectures, newspaper articles (some of which I wrote), and, yes, even college newspaper interviews like the one John Kelin conducted for Michigan Eastern University’s Eastern Echo college newspaper.

Somehow, that well-documented record managed to escape Mr. DiEugenio’s dogged investigation. Still, with a few mouse clicks, he might have stumbled across my own posted declarations found on my website under the not-so-subtle FAQ headline, “Weren’t you originally a conspiracy theorist?”

Here’s what Mr. DiEugenio would have found on-line had he bothered to look:

“I became interested in the Kennedy assassination in 1975 while working at a radio station in northern Michigan. After studying numerous books and periodicals on the subject, I began searching out original documents and photographs from the National Archives, Texas State Archives, and other institutions nationwide. By the early 1980's I had secured thousands of documents through the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I eventually conducted a series of interviews with key figures in the assassination story, with a particular emphasis on eyewitnesses and law enforcement officers connected with the murder of Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit. I later turned some of those interviews into a 1983 radio documentary which was honored by the Associated Press. Throughout a ten year career in radio, I was an outspoken conspiracy theorist, lecturing at local universities and community colleges and appearing on local radio talk-shows.

”In 1985, I left radio and began working as a writer/producer at CBS/FOX Video. That fall, I authored The Detroit News' 25th anniversary coverage of the JFK slaying. In 1989, I began freelancing as a computer animator. Four years later, I served as an on-camera expert and technical consultant for the critically acclaimed 1993 BBC/Frontline documentary, Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald? That same year, I began working on two concurrent projects: a computer recreation of the JFK assassination and a book on the murder of J.D. Tippit. My extensive work in both areas changed my mind about the case, convincing me that Oswald acted alone.”

Imagine that! Thousands of hours of extensive work conducted over a twenty-year period led me to reconsider my earlier beliefs. No lightning bolts; no acts of God – just plain and simple hard work. Apparently that is something so foreign to Mr. DiEugenio that he feels the need to fill in the gaps of how I moved from position A to position B with nothing less than piles of horse-hockey. Clever.

I don’t know what’s in the water Mr. DiEugenio’s been drinking, but he sure seems bent on proving himself to be a boob par excellence. Those of you who have been around awhile know that Mr. DiEugenio’s antics are not new.

Back in 1999, DiEugenio wrote a five and one-half page smear piece about ‘Gang of Three’ member Gus Russo (“Who is Gus Russo?”) which originally appeared in Probe, an anti-government rag helmed by DiEugenio; was later repackaged as part of The Assassinations, a collection of Probe articles republished by DiEugenio and co-author Lisa Pease; and which continues to pop up (albeit in an edited form) in search engines even today.

In it, DiEugenio charged that Mr. Russo, and his fellow ‘Gang of Three’ members, were government infiltrators seeking to subvert Mr. DiEugenio’s righteous search for the truth about the big conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination. Yeah, sure.

Mr. Russo and I wrote responses to Jim’s paranoid article back then, both of which are republished (Russo and Myers). I haven’t seen anything in Mr. DiEugenio’s latest rant to change my mind about what I wrote then, and if anything, time has sharpened the truth of my response. I’ll let you be the judge.

As for his recent review of Vincent Bugliosi’s book on the Kennedy case, Mr. DiEugenio opines that my ‘lone-nut’ position today is even more zealous and more rabid than my earlier conspiracy beliefs, writing, “…There is no better example of this than Myers getting on national television in 2003 and proclaiming via his Gerald Posnerian computer simulation that the single bullet theory is not just a theory anymore. Because of the Myers produced magic, it was now the single bullet fact…”

Of course, my computer reconstruction had nothing to do with author Gerald Posner (Case Closed) or the computer generated work of Failure Analysis, which was cited in Posner’s book; nor did ABC television allow me to walk off the street, step in front of the cameras, and make unsupported claims about my computer work or the Kennedy case.

I was grilled for seven hours by eight world-class producers in New York City prior to the decision by ABC News to use my work in the 2003 Peter Jennings special (now seen in repeats on the History Channel), after which news executives took it a step further and arranged to have Z Axis Corporation, world-renowned specialists in computer generated reconstructs for courtroom presentations, examine my computer models and methodology first hand. Their report is available here for all to see, as Mr. DiEugenio well knows.

What obviously chaffs Mr. DiEugenio’s backside is his own inability to get anyone with authority interested in anything he has to say about the case. Boo-hoo.

What does Mr. DiEugenio offer to counter the vetting of my computer work by highly qualified individuals? Get a load of this:

“… [Myers] simulation has been thoroughly skewered at least four times, once by David Mantik (Probe Vol. 2 No. 3), twice by Milicent Cranor, in The Fourth Decade Vol. 2 No. 4 and here, and by Pat Speer. The amazing thing about these critiques is this: there is very little overlap in the deconstructions. Which means that on every possible angle the Myers simulation was open to very effective attack…”

Effective attack? Come now, Jim, you don’t really expect anyone except the mentally challenged to believe this nonsense, do you?

Dr. Mantik’s so-called critique involved reviewing an article I wrote for a computer magazine without ever having seen the actual computer reconstruction (you can read all about it in my 1999 response republished here); Ms. Cranor’s objections were soundly rebutted on my FAQ page at; and Mr. Speer was handed his head in my blog article, “Con Job: Debunking the Debunkers.” ‘Nuff said.

In addition to taking childish pot-shots at my computer work, Mr. DiEugenio resurrects rumor and speculation proffered by fellow conspiracy theorist and author David Lifton (Best Evidence) that (gulp!) as much as one-third of Bugliosi’s monumental work may have been written by the late Hollywood screenwriter and director Fred Haines and yours truly, computer animator and author Dale Myers (With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit).

This startling development was made public in the spring of 2008 after Lifton “discovered” that the contributions of both Haines and myself were gratefully acknowledged in the back of Bugliosi’s book. Great detective work, David.

Mr. Lifton, and now Jim DiEugenio, pretend(s) to know in some mysterious omnipotent fashion who-wrote-what between the covers of Bugliosi’s book as well as the whole “messy back-story” (DiEugenio’s words) of how the book came to be. In fact, they can only pretend to know.

It seems that after forty-five years of pseudo investigation Mr. DiEugenio and company have finally given up on solving the Kennedy case and turned their attention to solving the case of “Who wrote Vincent Bugliosi’s book?”

Hint: Check the byline on the front cover, gents.

Who is Jim DiEugenio?

by GUS RUSSO / Spring, 1999

[Editor’s note: The following is Gus Russo’s response to Jim DiEugenio’s article, “Who is Gus Russo?”, originally posted on the Internet in 1999.]

Since the 1993 airing of the PBS Frontline episode, Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?, an astounding amount of half-truths and misinformation has made the rounds concerning yours truly. Until now, I had no desire to respond to these “critics,” since the old maxim “consider the source” more than clarified this flow of lunacy to anyone who had evolved beyond the homo erectus stage. However, one recent diatribe is so alarming it must be dealt with post haste.

I refer of course to an article that appeared in the January-February 1999 issue of an anti-government rag with a richly-deserved microscopic circulation. That piece of claptrap is entitled Probe, and purports to be the mouthpiece of a group who call themselves the Committee to Investigate the Kennedy Assassination (CTKA). (Many believe the title Probe is actually a thinly-veiled reference to a device that is employed by a cult with a fondness for proctological exams. I myself would never believe such a thing. But who knows?)

The guru of the “Probers” is an unrepentant Jim Garrison apologist who goes by the name Jim DiEugenio, and in this recent issue he authored an article (“Who is Gus Russo?”) that is more error-ridden than the 1965 New York Mets. What makes it dangerous, however, is the possibility that someone is using Jim's name in an elaborate smear campaign - a foreign intelligence apparatus perhaps (?). The proof is rooted not only in the unique history of Jim DiEugenio, but in a tell-tale oversight in the article, missed by the smear perpetrators. Even the best make mistakes.

Man with a mission

I first met the man "who represented himself as Jim DiEugenio in 1992. He seemed to be earnest, if overly brooding and paranoid. However, he gave the mistaken impression that he was a hard-working investigator who was writing a book on the Garrison saga. Although I had strong disagreements with DiEugenio over the Garrison scenario, we nonetheless had some overlapping interests and thus traded some information. I looked forward, however, to Jim's book, feeling that once he conducted first-hand interviews in New Orleans, he would come to the same beliefs as most New Orleaneans about the lunacy of the Jolly Green Giant.

Thus I was startled when his book, Destiny Betrayed, arrived. Two things stood out about this masterwork; he bought the Garrison demagoguery hook, line, and sinker; and this hard-working investigator's notes cite a total of eight original interviews – five with other researchers, two with Garrison aides, and one with the widow of a cop whose evidence against Clay Shaw was so tainted, the presiding judge disallowed it as unworthy of even Garrison's circus.

One-sided journalism

Nowhere in Destiny Betrayed is there seen an attempt to contact the countless dozens who fall prey to Jim's (Garrison or DiEugenio's) ad hominum vitriol. Everyone is accused of something, but virtually no one was contacted for their side of the story. Of course this is a common tactic usually perpetrated by those who fear that they might be confronted with a fact that destroys the melodramatic underpinnings of their thesis. But more than that, it is patently unfair and downright bad journalism to perpetrate such a shoddy work concerning a subject of such importance. (In my own book, Live By the Sword, I cited over 500 original interviews, in addition to over one thousand conducted on background. I wrote over four hundred letters requesting interviews to first-hand participants in the event, including all those I found at fault in my conclusion. For example, many aides to Robert Kennedy were approached.)

Not surprisingly, DiEugenio's predictable conclusion was that Garrison was correct in his anti-government harangue. My shock eventually faded, that is until I was sent the recent, cited, DiEugenio missive. The usual unchallenged incendiary was there – no surprise – however, I noticed something else that may shed some light on how such irresponsible poppycock came to be in the first place.

In an effort to de-fuse this insidious affront to the truth. I offer the following clarifications for the record. So kick your feet up and get comfortable, this may take awhile.

Dignity Betrayed

In his factually challenged article, DiEugenio delivers a full five and one-half page broadside which I urge you to read in order to fully appreciate the corrections that follow. That being said, let's confront this mayhem in order, shall we?

DiEugenio recounts the “Mark Lane” episode in which “Lane” admitted he could not find me after I criticized his “star witness” Marita Lorenz. This should have tipped DiEugenio off as to “Lane’s” investigative skills – all he had to do was ask Marita, who not only knew me but had my phone number. Or as my brother summarized. “How can ‘Lane’ hope to solve the Kennedy assassination when he can’t even find my brother?”

DiEugenio appears bemused by my interest in Delk Simpson. Of course, I had learned of and interviewed Simpson years before DiEugenio ever heard the name. Simpson was of interest since his son had told the HSCA that his father had been involved, in the Kennedy assassination with his buddy, LBJ’s military aide Col. Howard Burris. I had come learn of these names in 1986, after deciphering them from a manuscript of Robert Morrow's The Senator Must Die. Although Morrow did not divulge their names, he gave enough clues that allowed me conduct a long examination of State Department records and deduce their identities. To say Morrow was floored when I called him with their real names is putting it mildly. My interest elevated when I obtained a copy of George DeMohrenschildt’s addressbook which listed, among other curiosities the unlisted phone number of Howard Burris. Neither Simpson’s son nor Morrow was aware of this. It seemed pretty intriguing. In 1991, Frontline assigned me and two other reporters to run down the story.

Trotting the globe for Frontline

A small fortune was spent in travel and research. In the end, all the curiosities had benign explanations. Since DiEugenio regularly implies an “agenda” for Frontline, the question is begged: why spend thousands of dollars on a story if you intended on destroying it – and then not say a word about it? The reason is painfully obvious, except of course to the likes of DiEugenio. We were hopeful the story might stand up. When it didn't we moved on. We did this over and over again (e.g. interviews with Thomas Beckham, Ronald Augustinovich, Charles Harrelson, Robert Plumlee, the two surviving tramps, Capt. Marion Cooper, Chauncey Holt, and on and on.) Over one year was spent tracking down leads unresolved by the HSCA or others. One by one, these concoctions collapsed under the weight of hard scrutiny. What we were left with is the show that aired.

DiEugenio calls it significant that none of this work appears in my book. Why should it? I had no space, time, or desire to include every lead I've pursued over twenty years that ended up being bogus. I have a roomful of files on these investigations that have always been available to any open-minded person who wishes to come see them.

”Russo somehow heard of a new author [Posner],” DiEugenio writes ominously. The implication is that some hidden agenda brought us together. In fact, I met Gerald and his wife at the AARC in Washington, in 1991, when we stumbled over each other trying to get at the photocopier. He was researching his book, and. at the time had reached no conclusions about possible conspiracies (Yep, it’s true, DiEugenio. No hidden agenda there either.) I am proud to say we become great friends, despite some honest differences of opinion.

Phantom government assets

DiEugenio finds it curious that I am impressed with Jack Ruby's deathbed interview (of which I have a tape copy.) The interview is impressive. Has DiEugenio ever heard it? I doubt it. He dismisses it in his usual manner: the tape was made for an “FBI asset.” It’s DiEugenio’s recurring theme of last resort. When he has no facts, he relentlessly cites people as CIA or FBI assets – and with no evidence. Even if that were true, it would prove nothing, except only to the most rabid anti-government militia types, who wouldn’t know a FBI or CIA officer if they tripped over them.

If DiEugenio is so sure that everything associated with CIA is pure evil, he would have gotten a heated argument over three decades ago from two prominent Americans he pretends to revere:

”The CIA has done nothing but support policy... [It operates] with the cooperation of the National Security Council and under my instructions.” – President John F. Kennedy, 1963

”If the policy was wrong, it was not the product of the CIA but of each administration. We must not forget that we are not dealing with a dream world but with a very tough adversary.” – Senator Robert F. Kennedy, 1968

Of course, DiEugenio and his minions must know more than the naive, unworldly, and lesser-experienced Kennedy brothers. Obviously, the CIA has a checkered history, but upon close examination of their most glaring failures, it is interesting how many were, as JFK admitted, under White House instruction. But, hey, why let close examination get in the way of a good story?

The Fenton report

The infamous “Fenton Report.” When rumor circulated in the late eighties that the HSCA had a “confession tape” that was suppressed, I went into high gear. I was able to locate the tape, and interview the confessor in person, one Thomas Beckham. Beckham is a gregarious, erstwhile musician with whom I recorded a duet of “From A Jack To A King” on my interview tape when it became glaringly obvious that his story was nothing more than a bad joke. We had a jovial afternoon. Again, my files reflect the details. And again Frontline footed the bill for the research, hoping to turn up conspiracy evidence if it existed.

My “blurb” on the Morrow book, First Hand Knowledge: This episode can be filed under “a lesson well-learned.” Although I did write a blurb for Shapolsky, Morrow's publisher, the final version as it appeared on the book was inflated beyond what I had authorized. I later learned that this frequently happens in the PR game. In fact, Frontline threatened to sue Shapolsky over a “starburst” ad on the dust cover for saying the book was to be the “basis for a Frontline special.”

Both Morrow and Shapolsky knew this to be untrue, and even Morrow was surprised when this appeared on the cover. What I actually wrote was more along the lines of: “Explosive new material that needs to be investigated. An understanding of this may be crucial to the understanding of the JFK assassination.”

I was of course referring to the Burris/DeMohr connection and the flight Morrow said Ferrie took to Baltimore – which in fact he did take, but it was later determined had no bearing on Dallas. I had independently tracked down other corroboration for the incident (it's in my files). Most recently, in newly-released papers, Al Beauboeuf states that he flew with Ferrie to Baltimore. I have no regrets in pointing out the seriousness of that line of inquiry. I only regret that my quote was mangled by Shapolsky and taken out of context by tire likes of DiEugenio.

Rationally challenged

DiEugenio’s treatment of the 1993 Frontline program can only be described as approaching the zenith of mongoloid reasoning. He talks about an “imbalance from the other side.” This exhibits a type of paranoia wherein the afflicted polarize issues they can't understand or have no direct contact with - there's your imbalance (mental). It becomes like a war with “sides” competing for some sort of twisted idea of victory. Again the old bugaboo of CIA assets is raised, especially when it comes to Itek’s study of the Hughes film. In his typical scorched earth style, DiEugenio hurls accusations in all directions, seemingly without speaking with anyone at Itek (a “reporting” style made so infamous in Destiny Betrayed.) Here’s a prediction even Dionne Warwick could make: DiEugenio will accuse Pat Lambert, author of the brilliant False Witness, of being CIA. So what else is new?

Flirting perilously close to slander as he so often does, DiEugenio pretends to know about producer Mike Sullivan’s “bias.” I met with Mike on dozens of occasions and saw just the opposite, but then I’m not as gifted as DiEugenio who obviously has mastered remote viewing to observe Mike in his most secret, conspiratorial moments. I could go into great detail about my experience with Mike Sullivan’s total lack of agenda, but it would fill pages. Why do I have the feeling that DiEugenio’s first-hand knowledge of Mike Sullivan would strain to fill one word - zero?

Later, DiEugenio refers to “the talking heads that he [Russo] had on his PBS show.” Again, having no understanding of Mike Sullivan’s role, or in fact what an executive producer does in general, DiEugenio is off in the ozone once again. For the record, Mike wrote every word of the narration, picked every talking head, and wrote his show based on what he believed was the best of the raw data given him by our team of reporters. Any one of us would have shaded some things differently, but by and large I agree with most of Mike's calls – especially when he authorized one year of research to track down conspiracy leads. Scott Malone alone spent a fortune in Japan running down rumors of LHO’s alleged links to intelligence assets there.

The Dallas conference

DiEugenio’s treatment of a conference in Dallas is so fraught with error and leaps of logic that I get exhausted at the mere thought of dealing with it. So I’ll just point out some telling examples. He states unequivocally (as per his style) that Ed Butler “came into possession of some of Guy Banister's files.” I'm curious where that comes from, since, Ed Butler left me alone in the INCA offices to go through his voluminous files to my heart's content. (Again paid for by the “biased” Mike Sullivan.) And guess what DiEugenio? – no Banister files. Again, I guess I should yield here to DiEugenio’s third hand knowledge and remote viewing.

Next (for the umpteenth time), we get the tired “CIA asset” theme in dealing with the “compromised” scientist/CIA payee, Luis Alvarez – who somehow hoodwinked the naive Nobel Prize Committee in awarding him their coveted prize. Alvarez wouldn't have been so fortunate if the brilliant DiEugenio had been on the committee, that's for sure.

Still on the conference, DiEugenio assails me as an “anti-critic,” proving beyond any shadow of a doubt he didn't read my book, or read it as superficially as he must have read everything else. In the book, any blockhead will note that I skewer the CIA in Mexico City, the White House, the Church Committee, Allen Dulles, and on and on. Virtually no one escapes this tragic episode free of criticism. (One of the book's five “Parts” is entitled “A Coverup.”) Yet, in another staggering logic leap, that somehow renders me an “anti-critic.” This also applies to his implication that I “believe the conclusions of the Warren Report.” He added that I am “firmly in the Warren Commission camp.” DiEugenio must have been off at a remote viewing seminar when he skipped my section entitled “The Shortcomings of the Warren Report.”

DiEugenio’s next complete misrepresentation concerns the performance of Cyril Wecht at the conference, describing it as “a powerful peroration against equivocators.” The implication is that “equivocators” are people who attend the conference in search of the truth, whatever that might be, as opposed to the zealots who claim to know the truth, and only see these events as pep rallies. Funny, that description was not included on the ASK brochure sent to me. I can assure the reader that if it were, I would not have wasted my time there.

Close encounters of the foulest kind

As far as Wecht’s “ringing declaration” goes, it had the appearance to those of us cowering near the exit’s of a religious camp tent meeting or worse. At one point, at the height of Wecht’s anti-free-thinking tirade, a friend standing with me voiced what I had been simultaneously thinking; “Jonestown.” We decided to leave before the Kool-Aid was served.

Later, in the lobby, I encountered a hyped-up Wecht as I was entering the up escalator (DiEugenio goes out of his way to say which way we were going on the escalators, only to get that wrong as well.) According to ”JD,” Wecht “scolded” me over the Frontline show. Wrong again. It was I who initiated the conversation. As Wecht walked by, he looked like he was about to pop, still on a high from the stage/altar he had just left, I just couldn't resist. “Hey, Cyril,” I said. “Nice new religion you've got here.”

What happened next was astounding to anyone within earshot, and by that I mean the entire lobby and mezzanine of the giant Hyatt Hotel. Wecht launched into a stream of the most foul obscenities imaginable – at a decibel level that had the entire area stunned. His face turned a purple-red, as he used language that would get him ejected from the Springer Show. He accused myself, Bob Artwohl, Todd Vaughn, Mark Zaid and others of everything under the sun. What made the event even more surreal was the fact that while he was screaming, my escalator had reached the second floor, so those below only saw the good doctor screaming at the ceiling. He was eventually coaxed outdoors, where it was thought by some he was on the verge of a stroke. If he indeed suffered permanent damage, it would explain why, four years later, Wecht was seen on TV calling the most ludicrous rubber dummy a possible space alien (“Alien Autopsy” on Fox.)

What's the frequency, Kenneth?

Next, DiEugenio relates an episode where he was approached by a “man I had never seen before” who told him Russo and Zaid were “infiltrators.” What gave this man credibility to DiEugenio was that he had been in the SDS. Obviously, one can't even debate this kind of lunacy, however, I will say that only the National Institute of Mental Health would be interested in infiltrating this group, and I have never been a member.

Lunching with the Dark Side?

In his next section, dramatically entitled “Russo’s Fateful Meeting,” DiEugenio pretends to have the scoop on a 1994 lunch I attended with William Colby, Ted Shackley and five others in Washington. “Why was Russo there at all?” writes the rhetorical DiEugenio. He implies (his favorite tactic) that since the Frontline show was history, my attendance must have some sinister implication. The implicit agenda of such a meeting according to DiEugenio was to find a way to attack his beloved COPA claque. Of course, DiEugenio likes to indulge in selective amnesia, since he well knows, as he admits later in his article, that by that time I was writing a book on JFK and Cuba. The fact is that I wanted to get to know Shackley better in order to arrange a private interview. (Which I did and noted in my book. Duh.)

May the farce be with you

The truth is that these retired officials lunch about once a month to discuss (are you ready?) their kids, baseball, fishing, their wives, etc. In this instance, and about an hour and a half into the lunch, Ned Dolan and Joe Goulden, worried that the COPA meeting being held in DC might defame their old friend Dave Phillips. Ned suggested that either he or Joe write an article about their friend to balance the debate. Colby may have uttered two sentences, and I don't think Shackley said anything. Most seemed utterly disinterested. Someone suggested that Ned and Joe wait until a negative slant was aired by COPA, since it was far from certain that any responsible media would cover such an irrelevant event. Case Closed. I hate to deflate the COPA members’ inflated view of their own importance, but that discussion lasted all of 47 seconds, give or take.

There was no mention of “discrediting COPA.” In fact, there was not one mean-spirited, ad hominum statement - no COPA luminary mentioned by name. What a refreshing change from the arrogant, ugly, accusatory events staged by what DiEugenio proudly refers to as “the critics.”

Behind the scenes with Hersh

In his section on Seymour Hersh, DiEugenio again with no evidence, says “Russo apparently worked on the Judith Exner aspect of Hersh’s hatchet job.” And again (surprise), he couldn't be more mistaken. I had no input, or interest in the Exner story. My two chief assignments were Chicago, and the Kennedys in Los Angeles (esp. the Monroe rumors.) I located, among others, Murray Humphreys’ widow, and the man who introduced Joe Kennedy to Sam Giancana.

DiEugenio writes that Hersh and myself knew that one part of the Exner story (which as I said, I had no involvement with) “would be a tough one to swallow. So they had to come up with a corroborating witness.” This error negates the fact that I had known said witness, Marty Underwood, for years by the time I met Hersh. In fact, one of the reasons Sy brought me on board was because of my access to witnesses like Marty. In addition, Marty had told me the Exner corroboration before he knew I was working for Sy. He just thought I might be interested for my book. I wasn't. But when I recalled it, I gave it to Sy. Marty repeated the story for Hersh in my presence. DiEugenio who abhors calling first-hand witnesses, could have called Hersh before writing his fable, but this is Mr. Eight-Interviews-Let's-Write-a-Book DiEugenio.

So why did Marty refuse to appear on the ABC show? I’ll tell you the answer to what DiEugenio was too frightened to pick up the phone and ask anyone involved. Marty's sister talked him out of it, not because the information was wrong but out of loyalty to JFK, who had never talked out of school about his friend, Marty. It was a point no one could argue with. But the story was true.

On the Underwood/Mexico City story, DiEugenio wrote that Marty had written his notes of the trip “especially for the use of Hersh in his book.” While it is true that Marty told the Review Board that story, the fact is that the notes were given to me long before I met Hersh, and were for use in my book. By this time, Marty had decided to completely stonewall the board, owing to his dislike of director Gunn. Marty often called to laugh about how he was blowing them off, feigning illness, etc. I know for a fact that Marty's debrief of Win Scott happened, and Scott believed Fabian Escalante to be a prime suspect as a conspirator with Oswald. And not only did Marty give me his White House notes of his trip to Mexico City, he gave me intelligence reports provided him by the FBI's Sam Pappich on the other assassination exploits (in South America) of Fabian Escalante. The board never saw this material.

DiEugenio writes of “ABC’s exposure of the Monroe hoax.” Wrong. Lancer Productions initiated and paid for the forensic investigation ($100,000) that eventually found the flaws in the Cusack docs. I helped locate the experts used. Lancer is owned by Mark Obenhaus. The funds for that research eventually came out of monies that would have gone to Lancer and Hersh – not to mention how valuable the material (and the program) would have been if authentic. It is to Lancer's credit that, in spite of many studies that they paid for that indicated authenticity, Lancer was never satisfied. It’s what is known as “due diligence.” If DiEugenio had any familiarity with the term, he might have done some research before he penned his paranoid tirade.

The real Lone-nuttiest

The stream of simple-minded sarcasm continues as DiEugenio expresses confusion over how I could dare conclude Oswald the lone shooter, while still believing the possibility of a conspiracy. This logic-challenged section of the article points up what I have long believed to be one of the “critics’” most glaring failures: the inability to comprehend how there can be a single executioner, working to front a conspiratorial band in the shadows.

It seems DiEugenio needs an American History refresher course. Can you say John Wilkes Booth? DiEugenio adds to this section his recollection that I told him in 1993 that I believed Garrison had been very close to solving the case.

Anyone who takes more than a cursory look at my book will see that I indeed believe that Garrison was appallingly close to the heart of the coverup, but due to his immense ego and hatred of the government, he chose to see everything in reverse: 544 Camp St. was key to the case, but Garrison refused to see the obvious – Arcacha and the Cuban Revolutionary Council worked hand-in-glove with Bobby Kennedy and the White House; the camps on Lake Ponchartrain, of which Garrison was aware, were a cog in the Central American plan of the Artime/Kennedy liaison, not part of an anti-Kennedy clique; Garrison was well-aware of the Rosselli admissions of the White House-backed anti-Castro plots.

But instead of investigating those real events, he sat on the story, thus depriving the public of that important piece of the puzzle until the Church Committee disclosed the details almost seven years later. Garrison spoke the truth when he said to the press, “Black is white, and white is black.” But no one got the joke - he was clearly talking about his own investigation.

DiEugenio closes this section with a typical misstatement: “[Russo] says that the main thing that changed his mind about writing a book was the year he spent” with the new JFK files (1995). Actually, I’ve spent much of the last four years scanning the files. But the point is that, once again, DiEugenio completely misrepresents what I wrote, which is: “Two key events forced me to change my mind ... It was while in New Orleans for Frontline [1992], that I had my first inkling of the ‘ultimate truth’ ...[and] the release of the JFK documents required by the JFK Act.” SEE p.XI

When DiEugenio refers to Dale Myers’ brilliant computer renders as “embarrassing,” the obvious question arises: what does that make the stick figure drawings used by DiEugenio’s hero, Garrison? I suggest “moronic.” This real embarrassment is on display on pages 478 & 480 of my book.

Enough is enough

There is so much more that could be addressed, but who has the time? In closing, I will point out one statement of DiEugenio’s that is tellingly accurate. When musing over the thought processes that led me to the conclusions in Live By the Sword, DiEugenio confesses, “I don't pretend to know the answer.” Enough said.

What is one to make of Jim DiEugenio?

by Dale K. Myers / Spring, 1999

[Editor’s note: The following is Dale K. Myers’ response to Jim DiEugenio’s article, “Who is Gus Russo?”, originally posted on the Internet in 1999.]

As I read Jim DiEugenio’s rant, "Who is Gus Russo?" I wondered what kind of an audience Mr. DiEugenio hopes to corral. It certainly couldn’t be anyone who has done an ounce of real research on the assassination case. As Gus has pointed out, Mr. DiEugenio can’t seem to find his pipe and magnifying glass.

In particular, Mr. DiEugenio’s remarks about my relationship with Gus Russo and Todd W. Vaughan are as off track as anything I’ve ever seen in print. And believe me, I’ve read some whoppers - even from people who have interviewed me. But, frankly, Mr. DiEugenio takes the cake.

Case in point: Remarking on the 1993 Midwest Symposium in Chicago Mr. DiEugenio writes, “...There was one thing I should have noted about Russo at that conference. During the proceedings, I saw him with a tall, thin, bespectacled man who I had not encountered before. I would later recognize him as Dale Myers, who I now know as an unrepentant ‘lone-nut’ zealot. If I had known who Myers was in April in Chicago I would not have been so far behind the curveball...”

This is the first of many suggestions that my relationship with Gus Russo is sinister or - god forbid – “covert” in nature. Listening to Mr. DiEugenio’s rantings makes you wonder if the whole world isn’t part of some government plot to subvert his thought process. How I became part of this little menagerie remains a mystery to me. Referring to me as “an unrepentant lone-nut zealot” shows how little Mr. DiEugenio really knows about me or my work.

Who is Dale Myers?

As Gus as already shown, if Mr. DiEugenio had done a thimble full of homework he would have found that over the past twenty-five years I have lectured extensively, appeared on radio talk shows, and written numerous articles about the assassination - in each case, talking about the question of conspiracy. I approached this case from the beginning with an eye toward uncovering the truth whatever that might be. During that time, I have uncovered convincing evidence that demolishes many of the myths and legends that have grown up around this case. For this, I am called a “lone-nutter” - one of those convenient labels that’s bandied about by the fanatics who are unable to offer anything of substance to support their position. Why is Mr. DiEugenio quick to attack me? No doubt, the reason traces back to an incident that obviously still chaffs his posterior. He touched on it in his “Russo” diatribe, but of course, presented only his own twisted version.

DiEugenio's Motown Lecture

Mr. DiEugenio refers to a “lecture” he gave in Detroit this way: “…Later on, [Dennis] Effle and I did a talk on the Kennedy assassination in Detroit. [Todd W.] Vaughan and Myers both showed up and afterward tried to convince us that (1) The single bullet theory was viable and (2) Oswald would have had no problem getting three shots off in six seconds.”

This is more of Mr. DiEugenio’s attempt to show how “operatives” Vaughan & Myers were trailing him in an attempt to “subvert” his mission of truthfulness. What really happened was a lot less exciting than that.

Todd Vaughan, whom I have known for nearly ten years, called me and told me about a lecture being given at a location near Michigan Avenue and Greenfield Road in Detroit by author Jim DiEugenio. (Todd learned about the lecture through his father. A friend called about a flyer for the event that she found on her car in a grocery store parking lot. She knew Todd was interested in the case, and passed the flyer along to his Dad. In some paranoid circles, that makes her Todd’s “case officer”!)

I thought, “Sure, I’ll go.” I had a copy of Jim’s book and knew who he was. Besides, the Detroit Lions were getting their usual spanking on television so I knew I wouldn’t miss anything. Todd came over and we rode down in his car. I grew up in that area, and couldn’t for the life of me figure out where this lecture was going to be held. I knew the only thing on the northwest corner was a bar. Sure enough, that was the location. A backroom had been set aside for the event. We arrived about twenty minutes in advance, saw empty chairs, and thought we’d take in an extra quarter of the Lion’s disaster and wet our whistle. The crowd should be arriving any moment, or so we thought.

The Purple Gang Strikes

Come show time, we were the crowd. There weren’t more than eight people on hand, including Jim, Dennis, Todd, and I. It was a little embarrassing for Jim (he flew in to do the talk), so we pulled up a seat and watched the slide show.

It was the usual stuff, nothing I hadn’t seen (or done myself) dozens of times before. Mr. DiEugenio was making a number a factual errors in his presentation (the ones common to the factoid crowd), but I figured, so what?

However, at one point Mr. DiEugenio crossed the line of reasoning and logic (in my humble book) when he stated that former CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite was part of the conspiracy to cover-up the truth about the assassination – and as such was an accessory after the fact in the murder of the president of the United States. I let it go for a moment, but when he continued to champion this position, I interrupted and challenged him on that issue, to his apparent shock. He was clearly ruffled, made some silly excuse why he believed that Cronkite was involved, and continued his presentation without making anymore eye contact with me.

After Mr. DiEugenio finished, I approached him to show him something I had brought with me. I had finished one of the first sequences from my computer reconstruction project, Secrets of a Homicide. No one had seen what I had (except for a few close friends) and I was interested to show it to DiEugenio.

I called Jim over and pulled out a Sony Walkman 8mm Video player and pushed the play button saying, “Take a look at this.” Mr. DiEugenio’s jaw slackened. As the sequence unfolded, I posed a question, “What if I told you, that this computer animation - which is matched to the Zapruder film - shows that the single bullet theory is not only viable, but the likely solution to the shooting in Dealey Plaza?”

I don’t recall that Mr. DiEugenio ever offered an answer – which was fine. I didn’t expect one. The question was rhetorical. I was simply curious to get a reaction from someone from the so-called “research community.”

Satisfied, Todd and I prepared to leave. We walked with Mr. DiEugenio and Mr. Effle out the back door to their car. A short conversation ensued between Todd and Mr. DiEugenio surrounding Oswald’s ability to fire – single-handedly – the requisite three shots.

Todd, who owns a Mannlicher-Carcano purchased from Klein’s Sporting Goods in Chicago, IL., at the time of the assassination, and identical to the Oswald rifle, has strong feelings (and first hand firing experience to back it up) that the feat was not “impossible” as some have often claimed. I had no real interest in debating the issue and simply waited for Todd to finish so that we could go. In my mind, we had wasted enough of the afternoon.

And that, dear readers, is what Mr. DiEugenio characterizes as a couple of “operatives” infiltrating his lecture circuit, and trying to convince him and his colleague of the viability of the SBT, and Oswald’s shooting ability. Come on, now. Does that really make sense?

The idea that everyone who disagrees with a conspiracy advocate is some kind of operative, infiltrator, or subversive is nothing short of paranoia. It's a disease that, lately, has been running rampant through the veins of Internet conspiracy junkies. And nothing could be farther from the truth.

Researchers who don't research

Unfortunately, there are many poor souls who have such a low self-esteem, that the need to feed their ego has become more important than their interest in learning the truth about the assassination – whatever it might be. “Researching” the assassination for them is more about publishing newsletters, promoting conferences, selling tapes, books, and documents, and attacking anyone who dares to question their “patriotic” motives.

To do so, threatens the world of fame, celebrity, and prominence that they’ve created for themselves. In short, their goal has become one of perpetuating the myths, legends, and mysteries surrounding the assassination. To find answers will only bring an end to their self-serving world. How else do you explain a “researcher” who does no research?

And Mr. DiEugenio, by his own words, proves he hasn’t done a lick of research on the subject he spends nearly six pages huffing and puffing about.

“Who is Gus Russo?” is nothing more than a series of distorted statements and half-truths that, when strung together, imply that Russo and his associates are government infiltrators working hard to discredit “truth-seekers” like DiEugenio. What a joke. Mr. DiEugenio couldn’t find a fact if it were tattooed on his rump.

Tattooed facts

For instance, Mr. DiEugenio mentions the “extraordinarily interesting” Thomas Beckham who talked of his “personal acquaintance” with Jack Martin, the CIA, and “double agent, Lee Harvey Oswald.” Mr. DiEugenio adds, “...Significantly, none of [this] material appears in Russo’s book.” No kidding.

The FBI file on Beckham has been available through the Freedom of Information-Privacy Act (FOPIA) since the mid-1980’s. Anyone spending two minutes with these documents can clearly see that Beckham is hardly a credible source on any subject. But, Mr. DiEugenio doesn’t seem to know that, does he?

The Frontline show

Mr. DiEugenio also refers - incessantly - to the 1993 PBS special, Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald? as Gus Russo’s show.

Huh? Anyone with a breath of sense can see that the show was produced by the BBC/Frontline and Russo served only as one of many consultants/researchers. (I was another. Ooooooh. There’s another “mysterious” connection!)

Mr. DiEugenio’s source of knowledge on the television production process seems to be “...a middle-aged man who [DiEugenio] had never seen before, but will never forget...” who “accosted [DiEugenio] in an undeniably emotional state...” during a JFK convention. (This should have been the first clue that the source was not on an even keel.)

The source proceeded to inform Mr. DiEugenio that “Mark Zaid and Gus Russo are infiltrators” (without providing a whisper of substantiated fact - predictably, Mr. DiEugenio ate this up), and claimed that “...Programs like Frontline are not designed as they go. They have a slant and a content about them from the beginning that Russo had to know about going in...”

Nonsense. Investigative programs like Frontline have two phases: fact gathering and program editing. I’ve been in the television business since 1984 and can’t think of a single instance where a legitimate documentary program was scripted in advance of gathering material. Under the circumstances, how could Gus Russo (or anyone else, including producer Mike Sullivan) know “the slant” going into a program like that? It’s total B.S., pure and simple. And frankly, it’s common sense, which Mr. DiEugenio seems to be lacking in great abundance.

Later on, Mr. DiEugenio writes that: “PBS, Russo, his fellow lead reporter Scott Malone and producer Mike Sullivan made no attempt to hide their bias in the show.” Bias? Please. What Mr. DiEugenio no doubt meant was that although the show was tightly crafted, informative, and compelling, he disagreed with their findings. So what?

Isn’t it interesting that when those who fail to do any real research in this case are faced with facts, they cry, “Bias!” And Mr. DiEugenio hasn’t done any research on the making of the Frontline program, or the personalities involved, has he? In particular, his verbal assault on producer Mike Sullivan is about as far off-base as one could get. I found Mr. Sullivan to be one of the sharpest producers I’ve ever encountered in the television profession. He was articulate, focused, and extremely open-minded about where the program might lead. Ultimately, it didn’t – and that’s really what frosts detractors like DiEugenio, isn’t it?

Pseudo-scientific reviews

And that’s not all of the distortions served up in Mr. DiEugenio’s Russo ranting. Here’s another prime example.

In reference to Appendix A of Russo’s Live by the Sword, Mr. DiEugenio writes: “...Russo moves on and clinches the case against Oswald with Dale Myers’ computer recreation of the assassination. This rather embarrassing computer model of the events in Dealey Plaza was published in the magazine Video Toaster User in late 1994. As we have mentioned before, Dr. David Mantik ripped this pseudo-scientific demonstration to bits in Probe (Vol.2 No.3). Myers actually wrote that, by removing the Stemmons Freeway sign from his computer screen, he could see both Kennedy and Gov. John Connally jump in reaction to the Warren Commission’s single bullet piercing them both at frame Z-223. As Mantik wrote, this ' is both astounding and perplexing...If it does not appear in the original Z film (that would appear to be impossible since both men were hidden behind the sign), then where did Myers find it? This startling assertion is not addressed in his paper.' Mantik exposed the rest of Myers’ methodology and candor to be equally faulty as his 'two men jumping in unison' scenario. I would be shocked if Russo is not aware of this skewering inflicted on his friend Myers. Why? Because Myers sent CTKA a check for that particular issue once he heard Mantik had left him without a leg to stand on...."

What a joke! Let’s take a look at DiEugenio’s assertions line by line, and then you decide who’s pulling the wool over whose eyes.


(1.) “...As we have mentioned before, Dr. David Mantik ripped this pseudo-scientific demonstration to bits in Probe (Vol.2 No.3)...”

In reality, Dr. Mantik wrote a “review” of my computer animation project video, Secrets of a Homicide, without ever seeing the video itself! Huh? How do you do that? Well, in Dr. Mantik’s case, he read an article I wrote for Video Toaster User (VTU) magazine which described the computer project. What Dr. Mantik failed to tell his readers is that the article was aimed at computer users and not assassination buffs, and therefore, did not go into depth about the nuances of the case. It was written in very broad strokes, many of which clearly escaped Dr. Mantik.

(2.) “...Myers actually wrote that, by removing the Stemmons Freeway sign from his computer screen, he could see both Kennedy and Gov. John Connally jump in reaction to the Warren Commission’s single bullet piercing them both at frame Z-223...”

Contrary to Mr. DiEugenio’s childish summary, here’s what I actually wrote:

”The exact moment JFK and JBC were first hit has been the most venomous subject of debate since that day in Dallas. The 1964 Warren Commission picked the sequence Z-210 to Z-225 (while JFK and JBC were behind the sign) as the point of impact and claimed one bullet struck both giving birth to the single-bullet theory. During the last 30 years, dozens of theories have been put forth by writers and amateur sleuths countering the Commission’s claims. Just about every Zapruder frame from Z-190 to Z-240 has been used to bolster a theory about the first hit. Part of the problem stems from Zapruder’s shaky, hand-held camera work, which makes it difficult to focus attention on a specific area of the frame. Other problems arise when attempting to diagnose moving events from still enlargements. Frozen moments in time can easily be misinterpreted with the elements of time and space. By far, the biggest problem with viewing the Zapruder film is the Stemmons freeway sign, which comes between the presidential limousine and the viewer at the crucial moment. Still frames clearly show the president grimacing as he emerges from behind the sign (Z-225). The question remaining is how much earlier was he hit and whether Connally shows a reaction to being hit at the same time. Watching the Z-Film in motion and hoping to catch this subtle clue is an effort in frustration. It takes the human eye approximately five to 10 frames to recognize shapes in motion. By the time your eye locks on JFK and JBC, the film has already progressed to Z-230 to Z-235, where both are already reacting. The 3D computer model of the JFK assassination effectively eliminated these technical limitations. Now the computer camera followed the action with an ultra-smooth pan, image sampling was nearly doubled from Zapruder’s original 18.3 fps to 30 fps, and the obtrusive Stemmons Freeway sign was assigned an 80 percent transparency value. The action behind the sign was interpolated by the computer based on the first and last frames in which JFK and JBC are visible. What happened behind the sign is no longer a mystery...When watching this [computer] sequence in motion, it is clear that Connally is hit with a punching shot at Z-223. Without the sign to impede our vision, we see both men literally ‘jump’ at the same time...” [VTU, November 1994, "Secrets of a Homicide," by Dale K. Myers, pp.43-44]

(3.) “As Mantik wrote, this ‘is both astounding and perplexing...If it does not appear in the original Z film (that would appear to be impossible since both men were hidden behind the sign), then where did Myers find it? This startling assertion is not addressed in his paper.’”

Doh!? Am I the only one who sees the idiocy of Dr. Mantik’s statement? (If you missed it, re-read the above quote from VTU magazine that the good doctor’s statement is based on.) Get it? Dr. Mantik doesn’t.

He seems to think that the reaction of JFK and JBC occurs behind the sign, rather than in the frame sequence Z-222 to Z-240, immediately after they emerge. (Has he seen the Zapruder film?) In fact, the computer recreation – as clearly explained in the VTU excerpt – allows the viewer to witness the motion of JFK and JBC – start to finish –
without the sign interfering. Because the viewer’s line of sight remains uninterrupted, the simultaneous reaction of JFK and JBC as recorded on the Zapruder film is obvious. What is so hard about that?

Perhaps, Dr. Mantik would have realized his boo-boo if he had bothered to actually view the computer recreation he was critiquing. He didn’t. Instead, Dr. Mantik refers to the magazine article as my “paper,” as if it appeared in a scientific journal. This is what Mr. DiEugenio refers to when he claims Dr. Mantik “exposed [Myers’] methodology.”

(4.) “... I would be shocked if Russo is not aware of this skewering inflicted on his friend Myers. Why? Because Myers sent CTKA a check for that particular issue once he heard Mantik had left him without a leg to stand on....”

I ordered a copy of the Probe issue because I had heard that they had published a review of the Secrets of a Homicide project without viewing the video or speaking with me - not because of anything Dr. Mantik had written. In fact I didn’t know what Dr. Mantik had written. How could I? In the world of Mr. DiEugenio, however, knowing the facts without investigation is commonplace, isn’t it?

Predetermined agenda?

Not a single person who has ripped on my computer work has ever spoken to me about it. In fact, I have yet to see a single person who is well versed in my field give the project anything but high marks. Isn’t it interesting that Dr. Mantik (who isn't qualified to review computer animation work in the first place) refused to speak to me when I telephoned him to clear up any questions he might have had about the project?

Isn’t it interesting that several so-called “respected researchers” at first called the computer project “the most important work ever done on the case,” and even solicited my help in proving their theories, but when the answers I provided them proved their ideas wrong, turned their back on me, and have since gone out of their way to label my work junk? Now, who do you think has a predetermined agenda?

Champions of truth?

Particularly disturbing to me were Mr. DiEugenio’s comments about JFK “research” conferences and how they are run. Mr. DiEugenio questions, “Why would people who apparently (everything is “apparent” to DiEugenio) believed the conclusions of the Warren Commission (another assumption designed to label those he disagrees with) attend a conference designed for its critics?”

Well, Jim, I can’t speak for others, but I know that my interest in the case has been to find the truth through fact checking. It is only recently, to my deep disappointment, that I have realized that these conferences weren’t interested in that.

Case in point: Mr. DiEugenio applauds the close-mindedness of the annual “research” conferences when he writes, “...Cyril Wecht...made a ringing declaration against inviting ‘fence-sitters’ to anymore of these seminars. He specifically mentioned [Todd] Vaughan who, on the medical panel, had argued for the single-bullet theory...John Judge, Wecht, and myself were all interrupted several times by sustained applause and Wecht’s powerful peroration against equivocators brought down the house...”

I wonder how anyone can claim to champion “truth,” while keeping their boot firmly planted on the throat of fact and reason? One conference organizer recently wrote, “I agree...that there is no reason to attend a conference presenting the insistent stance of the ‘Lone-Nutters’ or to give them any forum...”

If the position held by these conference organizers and orators is so strongly planted in a foundation of fact, then why do they fear the voice of discord? The answer is obvious to anyone who has attended one of these affairs.

Pretending to probe

After spending nearly six pages inferring that the Russo-Zaid-Vaughan-Myers-Alvarez-Sullivan-Malone-Artwhol connection somehow tracks back to the CIA (or some other faction of the alleged neo-Nazi government that subverts our country), Mr. DiEugenio poses the question, “What is one to make of Russo...?”

On the bottom of the last page, Mr. DiEugenio finally offers his conclusion, “I don’t pretend to know the answer.”

Well gee, Jim. One could have simply said so, and saved everyone the time to read this pointless smear-piece presented as an “investigative” report. Anyone with a smidgen of self-respect would have been embarrassed to publish such tripe.

Facing reality

Over the past twenty-five years, I have run across all types of individuals who find themselves drawn to the assassination story. They come from all walks of life and from a wide variety of backgrounds.

In every case – without exception – the people who have done the most intelligent, carefully researched work are those standing outside of the limelight. They toil away for hours, digging through dusty libraries, interviewing principal figures first-hand, and pouring over documents that they have personally worked hard to secure from sources all over this country. When they find something of value, they double check the facts. When they are confident in the facts they have uncovered, they present them in a respectable forum – usually with little fanfare.

For their efforts, they are roundly criticized by the so-called community of “researchers” whose myths and legends ultimately fall victim to the diligent scrutiny of these true professionals.

Tearing down the truth

No doubt, the insults, attacks, and mischaracterizations of the real research professional will continue to flow from those ego-deficient few who feel the need to tear down the world around them rather than build anything of lasting substance.

Meanwhile, in the quiet corners of libraries and reading rooms around the country, a few individuals continue to focus on the goal that underlies their own heartfelt motive – truth, whatever it may be.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fay Puckett: Daughter of woman who operated rooming house where Lee Harvey Oswald lived

by MICHAEL GRANBERRY / The Dallas Morning News

Fay Puckett, whose mother operated the Oak Cliff rooming house where Lee Harvey Oswald was living in the fall of 1963, died Sunday from complications of Alzheimer's disease. She was 84.

Her daughter, Patricia Puckett Hall, who still lives in the house at 1026 N. Beckley, said Monday that her mother was legally blind and nearly deaf at the end of a long illness.

Like many in the city, Ms. Puckett was touched by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Ms. Puckett was working in her photography studio on Jefferson Boulevard when she looked out the window and saw Dallas police escorting a screaming, handcuffed Oswald from the Texas Theatre across the street. She recognized him as one of her mother's tenants.

Ms. Puckett's mother was Gladys Johnson, who for almost six weeks in the fall of 1963 rented a room to a man who gave his name as O.H. Lee. He paid $8 a week. On Nov. 22, 1963, Oswald returned briefly to the rooming house, minutes after President Kennedy was shot.

Earlene Roberts, Ms. Johnson's housekeeper, was sitting in the living room watching television when an apparently agitated Oswald opened the door. Ms. Roberts told reporters that when Oswald came in, she said, "You sure are in a hurry" – to which he gave no response. She said he entered in shirt-sleeves and left zipping up a jacket.

Investigators later concluded that Oswald went to his room to fetch his pistol, which they say he used minutes later to gun down Dallas police Officer J.D. Tippit.

Ms. Puckett, who returned to live in the family home in 1977, spoke often over the years of how the house – which has always been occupied by a family member – loomed as a reminder of Dallas' darkest day.

"It was like a circus here after the assassination," Ms. Puckett told The Dallas Morning News in 1997. "People were always coming by to see Oswald's room. My mother allowed them inside for a while. Then it got so totally out of hand, she stopped doing that. Oswald only lived here about six weeks. It was just at the wrong time."

Ms. Puckett was sitting on her porch one day when a man approached. "You look like Norman Mailer," she said. "I am," replied the author of Oswald's Tale.

During the early 1990s, Ms. Puckett allowed filmmaker Oliver Stone inside the home to shoot scenes for the movie JFK. But she became increasingly miffed, her daughter said, over Mr. Stone's taking "weeks instead of days" and "totally ignoring" details and descriptions she deemed important. "Mother's not a real big fan of Oliver Stone," Ms. Hall said.

Born Stella Fae Arrant in Alto, Texas, in 1923, Ms. Puckett began using the name "Fay" in an effort to circumvent the sexism she encountered as a young business owner, hoping that before they met her, prospective employers would think she was male.

"After they saw her work," her daughter said, "it didn't matter that she was a woman."

For years, she owned Puckett Studio at the corner of Davis and Bishop in the area now known as the Bishop Arts District. For three decades, her daughter says, she "combined oil painting with photography, specializing in portraits" and weddings.

Ms. Hall describes her mother as being able to capture "the warmth and personality of each and every client that came into her studio."

Upon her return to the family home, she brought her business with her. She converted the small room where Oswald slept into the family library, filling it with books and the family's crystal collection, as it remains today.

She is survived by her daughter, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. A private memorial service will be held at the family home on Saturday.

Source: The Dallas Morning News

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bullet analysis casts doubt on lone gunman in JFK assassination

by MICHAEL E. YOUNG / The Dallas Morning News

Use the latest scientific techniques to poke a hole or two in official findings on the Kennedy assassination and suddenly you have lots of new friends – and lots of enemies.

Forty-five years after President John F. Kennedy was killed in a Dallas motorcade, the details surrounding his death remain topics of endless debate for those who see conspiracies and those who disagree.

Cliff Spiegelman will testify to that.

The professor of statistics at Texas A&M University organized a six-member team that compared the composition of bullet fragments from the JFK shooting with other bullets from the same manufacturer.

The group found that those fragments weren't nearly as rare as the government's expert witness concluded in 1976, when Dr. Vincent P. Guinn determined that all five fragments came from two bullets fired by Lee Harvey Oswald. A third shot missed.

"The claim was made that those five fragments could only have come from two bullets," Dr. Spiegelman said. "Our research showed it could have been two or more.

"And if it is more than two, there is an increased likelihood that someone else provided one of them."

Many of the test bullets showed the same "chemical composition," and one matched fragments from the assassination bullets, he said.

Hence the title of the group's paper: "Chemical and Forensic Analysis of JFK Assassination Bullet Lots: Is a Second Shooter Possible?" The team was honored by the American Statistical Association with its 2008 Statistics in Chemistry award.

The study doesn't say there were two or more gunmen, only that the single-gunman theory can't be supported by science.

Naturally, that triggered "a bit of a buzz," said Gary Mack, curator of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

"The no-conspiracy folks, they accepted [Dr. Guinn's] analysis without too much questioning," Mr. Mack said. "But others wondered whether he knew what he was talking about. And the sharp ones were very skeptical that [the one-shooter findings] could be so definitive."

By allowing the possibility of multiple gunmen, the study quickly made the rounds on Internet sites and conspiracy bulletin boards.

"Do a search of 'Spiegelman and JFK' and see how many hits you get," Dr. Spiegelman said. "Depending on the day, it's somewhere between 50,000 and 90,000."

Many readers passed along their own theories.

A minister who had served in Central America told him that a former member of the mob confessed that he helped plan the assassination, Dr. Spiegelman said.

"I got a letter that said, 'Hey stupid, we had a coup. [Lyndon] Johnson did it.' "

A phone message from Australia promised to reveal the real killer only if Dr. Spiegelman called back.

And an elderly gent from West, Texas, said he found a weapon like Mr. Oswald's Carcano rifle in a hotel the day after the assassination. Would Dr. Spiegelman like to see it?

At the same time, others attacked details of the study, citing things like the bullets' manufacturer, mentioned at one point as Winchester, then as the Western Cartridge Co.

Stuart Wexler, a 32-year-old teacher from New Jersey, joined the team and provided the test bullets, acquired during a two-year search of eBay auctions, shooting sites and online newsgroups.

"Finding those bullets was incredibly tough," Mr. Wexler said. "There are a lot of Carcano rounds out there, but not a lot of Western Carcano rounds."

Yes, they were made by Western, which acquired Winchester in 1931, he said.

Even now, a year after the study's publication, Mr. Wexler is amazed at the response.

"There was a tremendous amount of buzz," he said. "Unfortunately, a number of the international headlines overstated our conclusions. Some of it was almost pure propaganda."

It reminded him of something he saw recently on the Onion, a satirical Internet site, in its summary of the news of 1963:

"Kennedy Slain by CIA, Mafia, Castro, LBJ, Teamsters, Freemasons. President shot 129 Times from 43 Different Angles."

Source: Dallas Morning News

* * * * * *

[Editor's note: This is an old story. The scientific paper ("Chemical and Forensic Analysis of JFK Assassination Bullet Lots: Is A Second Shooter Possible?" by Cliff Spiegelman, William A. Tobin, William D. James, Simon J. Sheather, Stuart Wexler and D. Max Roundhill) published in The Annals of Applied Science in 2007 (Vol.1, No.2, 287-301) concluded:

"...The calculations above show that it is not possible from the compositional bullet lead analysis to conclude that there were only two bullets as the source of the five assassination fragments as Dr. [Vincent]Guinn testified [in 1979]. The answer could change dramatically depending upon assumptions. By reanalyzing the JFK bullet fragments to measure more elements, it may be possible to provide substantial evidence of more than two bullets as the source of the assassination fragments if there were, in fact, more than two bullets used. However, if bullets came from the same box, clear evidence of more than two bullets may not be present because many bullets in the same box typically have similar chemical compositions...Given the significance and impact of the JFK assassination, it is scientifically desirable for the evidentiary fragments to be reanalyzed." [emphasis added]

In short, a chemical reanalysis of the metallic composition of the bullet fragments from the Kennedy assassination might determine whether there were more than two bullets present among the fragments.

Of course, all of the other physical evidence recovered from the crime scene shows that only one rifle, Lee Harvey Oswald's 6.5mm Mannlicher-Carcano, was used in the slaying and that two of his three shots struck the occupants of the presidential limousine.

Thus, the 2007 Spiegelman et al report does not contradict the lone gunman theory, it only says that a further analysis of the compositional makeup of the Kennedy bullet fragments might show that the fragments came from more than the two known bullets. Might....

Considering the strength of the physical case against lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald in all other respects, I think it is doubtful that a further analysis will disprove what we already know to be scientifically true - three shots, two hits - though I remain open to and interested in any further analysis that can add to our knowledge of the case.

In the meantime, the continual resurrection of this 2007 story, recast as a significant advancement in our knowledge of the facts of the case and presented as if it casts serious doubt on Oswald's sole guilt
(especially ridiculous and unsupportable statements like: "...the single-gunman theory can't be supported by science..."), only feeds the public's insatiable appetite for the sensational. - DKM]

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ike Pappas, who broadcast Oswald death, dead at 75

by RICHARD PYLE / Associated Press

Ike Pappas, a longtime CBS newsman who was a few feet from presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald when he was fatally shot and reported the chaotic scene live on the air, has died at 75.

Pappas, who also covered major events like the Vietnam War and anti-war demonstrations at home, died Sunday in an Arlington, Va., hospital of complications from heart disease, his family said.

A New York City native, Pappas was in Dallas after John F. Kennedy's Nov. 22, 1963, assassination, reporting for New York radio station WNEW, when police brought the manacled Oswald into the police station basement two days later to be transferred to the jail.

He had just asked the suspect, "You have anything to say in your defense?" when someone shoved Pappas, a gunshot sounded and Oswald crumpled, mortally wounded.

"There's a shot! Oswald has been shot! Oswald has been shot!" Pappas said on the air. "A shot rang out. Mass confusion here, all the doors have been locked. Holy mackerel!"
"One of the wildest scenes I've ever seen," he said seconds later.

The person who had elbowed Pappas aside turned out to be Jack Ruby, the nightclub owner who was convicted of killing Oswald. Pappas told the story in testimony at Ruby's trial and later to the Warren Commission that investigated the Kennedy assassination.

Born April 16, 1933, Icarus N. Pappas served in the U.S. Army, joined CBS News as a radio writer in 1964 and became a network correspondent in 1967. Besides the Vietnam War, he covered the 1967 Six Day War in Israel, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, the Kent State shootings in 1970, and coups in Greece, Bolivia and Chile, according to records provided by CBS.

Based in Washington, he was assigned to cover the Pentagon, the CIA, labor and other beats. One of 200 CBS News employees laid off by the network in 1987, he formed his own video production company, known as Ike Inc., writing and producing TV documentaries for PBS and other outlets.

In 1988 he made his film debut, portaying a reporter in the Paul Mazursky-directed comedy "Moon Over Parador" that starred Richard Dreyfuss.

Pappas lived in McLean, Va. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn; two sons, Theodore and Alexander; a daughter, Sarah Thomason; and two grandchildren.

Source: Associated Press