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.


Dale K. Myers said...

Mr. DiEugenio fired back a few days ago in an Internet article titled, “Dale Myers Gets Perturbed!”

As I’ve come to expect, Mr. DiEugenio only manages to run the same ol’ vitriol nonsense up the flagpole to see who he can get to salute. I’m sure there will be a few.

Like a lot of anti-government zealots who have hijacked the JFK assassination case to further their own political ideology, Mr. DiEugenio spends the vast majority of his time trying to diminish anyone who disagrees with his agenda.

The chief weapon of these zealots is ignorance. They prey on those poor unfortunate souls who can be convinced that the opinions of three non-experts out weigh the expert, that the disposition of those involved in the creation of documentaries and books on the case can be gleaned by outsiders through phrenology, and that they themselves are so important that a vast conspiracy has formed to prevent them from revealing the truth.

Of course, the only thing these disillusioned souls manage to prove is how far out on the limb they’ve climbed.

Dennis said...

"In short, we've changed our minds. You grow, you know."

Amazing how you were able to initially realize the magic bullet theory was a fantasy, but then after further investigation, you were able to COME BACK to the ONLY scenario which could support a lone nut. I don't know how you can change your mind like that when the theory you discarded earlier on has essentially NOT EVER CHANGED SINCE 1963.

Of course, how are you to explain Gerald Ford's admission of changing the description of the wound to completely destroy the magic bullet nonsense, or the literal mountain of other evidence (certainly not theory) that proves you were right the first time.

But like Gerald Ford and Arlen Specter found out, and Jim Garrison learned, its a much better career move to say Oswald and 3 bullets. For that much, you are a smart man.

Dale K. Myers said...

You're right about one thing - the conspirati's magic bullet theory "hasn't changed since 1963", but Dennis, isn't it obvious that what has changed is access to a large number of never-before-available facts surrounding that theory?

Prior to 1977, the conspirati have had a field day wallowing in the pseudo-science that makes up a good portion of their magical theory.

But since then, the autopsy photographs and X-rays have become available and now we can see for ourselves where the bullet struck and exited and not have to rely on speculation and secondary evidence so central to the conspirati's magic theory. In addition, we have photographs of the so-called pristine bullet that show it not to be "pristine" at all, but in fact is flattened and squeezed. I could go on and on.

When you have access to more facts you must re-evaluate your beliefs, if you're at all interested in the truth, yes? Or do you prefer to live in a vacumn?

As for your interpretation of then-Congressman Ford's actions, it should be obvious that changing the language of the Report didn't change the course of the bullet, so how is what Ford did important to what really happened in Dealey Plaza?

As for your assertion that I sold out the truth to make a buck - get a life. No one with any real intelligence believes that nor does anyone who has spent the kind of time I have crawling through libraries and archives, or traveling the country in my spare time with my own money interviewing persons directly attached to the case.

The real money has always been and always will be in the fantastic yarns that are perpetuated by the conspiracy crowd - not in the truth. Haven't you figured that out yet?

Go down to Dealey Plaza any day of the week and you'll see what I mean.

Dennis said...

"The real money has always been and always will be in the fantastic yarns that are perpetuated by the conspiracy crowd - not in the truth. Haven't you figured that out yet?"

This is beyond laughable. You should know that its easy to create a monkey looking(and reality altering) jfk animation and get on national tv.

Your exactly right, Ford changing the location of the entrance wound does not change the path it took, which began 5.5 inches below where Ford originally said it did. Your ability to abandon logic is almost admirable. We both know Michael Baden said the location of the holes of the jacket directly represent the holes on the body as well, both of which are 5.5 inches below the magic theory. But I'm sure you will cite some "official" xray or medical examination to put this aside. Also putting aside PROOF that the xrays and autopsy photos were altered and only stand to prove a cover up.

The photos of CE-399 that you cite as not being pristine at all is another case of you cherry picking for your truly blind cause. We both know I'm sure that 4 out of the first 5 people to handle CE399 said the bullet they found was different than the one the warren commission had (pointy nosed, not round like ce399). We also now know that agent Bardwell Odum never showed the bullet to Tomlinson and Wright (secret service agents) like the 1963 FBI memo to the warren commission said. Like you said, when you have access to more facts, your beliefs should change accordingly, assuming we believe in "facts".

Dale K. Myers said...

Why are conspiracy lovers never able to advance their case with real evidence?

Citing Michael Baden to override the actual autopsy X-ray and photographs? The next thing you'll be telling me is that Baden's book on the case was factually correct too.

And why all the quotes around the word "official"? Do you really think responding in this manner calls into question the fact that the medical evidence in this case was authenticated beyond dispute? Oh, yes, of course, it must be fake because the alternative is to acknowledge that the case for conspiracy is dead. Boo-hoo.

And yes, while we're at it, lets toss out the contemporary reports about CE399 in favor of faded memories - how long was it, Dennis? - thirty-plus years after the fact.

If you had a shred of believable evidence to support your position you wouldn't be bothering with third-grade remarks about the quality and integrity of my computer work which, in the eyes of people I do respect, was worthy of putting in front of a national television audience.

I think I'll probably fall out of my chair if the conspirati ever back up all the mouth with some believable, convincing facts.