Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Doctor who attended JFK in Dallas has died

by TERRY WALLACE / Associated Press Writer © 2009 The Associated Press

DALLAS — Dr. Malcolm Oliver Perry II, who attended to President John F. Kennedy at Parkland Memorial Hospital after he was shot in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, has died. He was 80.

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the teaching hospital for Parkland, said Monday that Perry died Saturday in Tyler after a battle with lung cancer.

Perry was an assistant professor of surgery at UT Southwestern and a vascular surgeon on the Parkland staff when he became the first staff surgeon to treat Kennedy.

In an extensive interview by the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination, Perry recalled taking the case over from the senior resident, checking the president's vital signs and finding none but noting a convulsive effort to breath. He performed a tracheotomy on the president while other staff doctors and surgeons gathered to help.

Perry and another surgeon performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Kennedy until no brain activity was detected on the trauma room instruments. At 1 p.m., Kennedy was declared dead by Dr. Kemp Clark, the UT Southwestern neurosurgery chairman, from a catastrophic head wound.

Dr. Robert McClelland was the last surgeon to attend Kennedy in Trauma Room 1. McClelland, a longtime friend and Parkland and UT Southwestern colleague of Perry's, remembers that the shock of realizing whom they were treating faded quickly when they entered the trauma room.

"At Parkland we're accustomed, all of us are, to treating many different cases," McClelland told The Associated Press on Monday. "Of course, it's the president," he said. Was it hard to put that aside? "No, not really. Everything was so rapidly happening that we were called on the peak of the moment."

Perry told the commission that the neck wound Kennedy suffered from the sniper's first rifle shot would likely have not been fatal. However, he testified that neither he nor Clark could tell from their examinations from where the bullets came.

The vascular surgeon also was one of the doctors to operate on presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, who was shot two days after Kennedy's death by Jack Ruby.

After a long career, Perry retired in 2000 as professor emeritus of surgery at UT Southwestern. But McClelland, now 80, said that after the assassination his friend never mentioned their role in the case, and that they never discussed it even among themselves.

"No, we didn't, for reasons he kept to himself. Immediately after, he had a bad experience with interviews that hurt him deeply. Whenever the subject threatened to come up, he'd raise an eyebrow and that would be that," he said.

Perry was born in Allen, Texas, a once-tiny farming-and-railroad town about 20 miles north of Dallas that is now one of the city's fastest-growing suburbs. He was raised by his grandfather and namesake, Dr. Malcolm O. Perry I, a general practitioner in the small town.
Associated Press writer Jamie Stengle contributed to this report.

Source: Houston Chronicle

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Veteran CBS News Producer Bernard Birnbaum Dead at 89

CBS News.com

There's been a death in the CBS News family: Former producer Bernard Birnbaum died on Thanksgiving Day at the age of 89.

Birnbaum had been at CBS News since 1951, and was a producer for "Sunday Morning" since 1990.

Throughout his distinguished career at the network, during which he received seven Emmy Awards, Bernie Birnbaum covered many of the most remarkable events of the past several decades, from political campaigns and the assassination of President Kennedy, to Watergate and the Vietnam War.

As a producer, Birnbaum worked with many legendary CBS News correspondents (including Howard K. Smith, Charles Collingwood, Mike Wallace, Eric Sevareid and Morton Dean), using his talents as a photographer, director and storyteller to create innovative television journalism.

He was a producer for such CBS programs as "Adventure," "Eyewitness to History," and "The American Parade."

In September 1963 he was named an associate producer for the "CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite," the first half-hour daily news broadcast.

Birnbaum was dispatched by Cronkite to Dallas in November 1963 to produce CBS News' coverage of the immediate aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Reporting on the Kennedy assassination became a lifelong interest, resulting in many primetime broadcasts, including the 1993 "48 Hours" special "Who Killed Kennedy?"

"CBS News Inquiry: The Warren Report" (1967) were four one-hour specials examining the facts and allegations surrounding President Kennedy's assassination and the work of the commission appointed to investigate it.

Birnbaum also played a major role in coverage of the Vietnam War, making seven trips to that country. With the evacuation of American troops from Saigon in April 1975, he was part of the team of CBS News producers responsible for a special two-and-a-half hour retrospective, "Vietnam: A War That is Finished."

Birnbaum was also the senior producer for "On the Road with Charles Kuralt." In 1964, the two produced "Christmas in Appalachia," an award-winning half-hour documentary on the plight of unemployed miners in eastern Kentucky. On the basis of that broadcast, an unsolicited $70,000 from viewers poured into CBS, which some observers have suggested helped shape President Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty program.

Birnbaum married the former Ronnie Gutman in 1950; she passed away in 2005. He is survived by two daughters, Deborah and Amy Birnbaum (who is also a producer at CBS News), and four grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday in Larchmont, N.Y.

Source: CBS News.com

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The JFK Assassination in History


Want to know how the JFK assassination will be remembered by history?

Here’s what a concerned citizen wrote ten days ago:

“The controversy surrounding JFK`s assassination will go on forever as long as the government stonewalls on its release of every bit of information still sealed and as long as they continue to employ individuals to counter any new conspiracy information and label those of us who continue to believe in a conspiracy as ‘nuts.’

“There are too many loose ends, hundreds of them. Oswald`s time frame from the book depository to his apartment, the police car outside of his apartment, possible shots being fired from the storm drain in Dealey Plaza, the single bullet theory, and on and on.

“I will not live to see the truth revealed in my lifetime, but I hope a new generation of researchers continue to carry the torch in the name of truth.”

Very inspiring. If only it were true.

The idea that the government is sitting on information that will completely change what we know about what happened in Dallas 46 years ago today may be very popular with the general public, but it has nothing to do with reality as anyone who has spent any significant time with the millions of pages of documents which have long been available.

James Sibert, the 91-year-old retired FBI agent who sat in on the Kennedy autopsy, recently told the news that he doubts that there are anymore secrets to be unearthed.

“After 46 years,” Sibert said, “there couldn’t be.”

The notion that the government “employs individuals to counter any new conspiracy information” may also be popular among the fringe conspiracy crowd but is laughably implausible. Most of the men and women working for today’s CIA, FBI and other assorted intelligence agencies weren’t even born when Kennedy was killed in Dallas. What stake do they have in the big cover-up and conspiracy?

Most of them grew up on the same conspiracy theories you did and no doubt would jump at the chance to reveal the “truth” about the big dark secret supposedly kept hidden by their predecessors – men who have been, for the most part, long dead in their graves.

Instead of common sense, we’re bombarded yearly with the many loose ends, strange coincidences, and titillating factoids that make up the great “unsolved mystery” of our time.

Oddly enough, the loose ends often cited aren’t loose or mysterious at all. Take the few mentioned above:

“…Oswald’s time frame from the book depository to his apartment…” There’s no mystery here and never has been that I’m aware of. There has been a lot of discussion about whether Oswald had time to get to the shooting scene of Officer J.D. Tippit after he left his apartment, but the evidence (both physical and eyewitnesses) is overwhelming that he murdered Tippit, making the debate rather moot.

“…the police car outside his apartment…” This is a reference to the testimony of Earlene Roberts, the housekeeper at Oswald’s rented room, who told investigators that a police car honked its horn outside the house during the brief period Oswald was in his room arming himself with the pistol he would use to murder Tippit less than a quarter hour later. Mrs. Roberts testimony about her claim was contradictory and unsupported. I know a lot of conspiracy folks like to believe it was Tippit’s squad car out in front of Oswald’s room or another police vehicle driven by Oswald’s confederates, or worse, his potential murderers, but there’s nothing in the record to suggest or support such beliefs.

“…possible shots being fired from the storm drain in Dealey Plaza…” This loose end survives only in the far-out conspiracy publications having been debunked years ago when it was determined that anyone foolish enough to try to assassinate Kennedy from the storm drain when he drove by wouldn’t have the necessary angle on his intended target.

“…the single bullet theory…” Ah, yes; the magic bullet. The only thing magical about the single bullet debate is that otherwise intelligent people can believe that a high powered rifle bullet, traveling at over 2000 feet per second, could penetrate the soft flesh of Kennedy’s right-upper back and throat and vanish! That’s what conspiracy theorists are forced to believe by rejecting the Warren Commission’s idea that a single bullet passed through Kennedy and struck Governor Connally seated in front of him. How magical is that?

The majority expert opinion (the one presented by the 1964 Warren Commission and endorsed by the 1978 House Select Committee on Assassinations) found that a bullet passing through Kennedy’s upper-right back and throat would continue on and strike something or someone in the car. When it was determined by investigation that no damaged to the car could be attributed to a bullet traveling at nearly 2000 feet per second and that the only other person struck by a bullet (Connally) was seated directly in front of Kennedy, the experts came to the crazy conclusion that the wounds to Kennedy’s back and throat and the wounds to Connally were caused by a single bullet. What’s so hard to believe?

The only people still on the fence about the single bullet debate are those ignorant of the facts or those willing to believe that a high-powered rifle bullet can vanish into thin air.

Accepting fiction for facts has become far too commonplace in the Kennedy assassination debate; hence the perpetuation of the myth of the big conspiracy.

Earlier this month, Dartmouth College’s Hany Farid, a pioneer in the field of digital forensics and the director of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth, revealed the results of his digital analysis of the infamous backyard photograph showing Oswald holding a rifle in one hand and Marxist newspapers in the other. After analyzing the photo with modern-day forensic tools, Farid said the photo almost certainly was not altered.

The House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) came to the same conclusion 31 years ago.

Conspiracy advocates James Fetzer and Jim Marrs fired back in a one-sided, 8-page dissertation published on the Internet’s OpEdNews, a left wing website with a left wing perspective.

According to Fetzer and Marrs, Farid is all wet because his analysis failed to take into account the many opinions of the conspiracy crowd who too have analyzed the backyard photos and found them to be fakes.

Fetzer and Marrs never bother to even mention that the HSCA looked into the conspiracy crowds’ complaints in 1978 and found them wantonly lacking until the end of their rant; instead relying on long dead allegations that on close examination have been found to be empty of substance.

It’s no surprise to this writer that the Fetzer and Marrs op ed piece fails to deliver the goods given the fact that they can’t even get the basic facts of the assassination right, writing that “according to the official version of the assassination, Oswald was firing at a target moving laterally and downhill away from him with tree branches obscuring the line of sight.” [emphasis added]

Huh? The Kennedy limo was moving directly away from Oswald’s perch (not laterally) at the time of the shots and while tree branches obscured Oswald’s vision for the briefest of moments all of the shots were fired either before or after the limo passed under the tree. I guess these facts are a little too inconvenient for print.

Tonight and tomorrow, assassination buffs will be treated to three new television specials: Did the Mob Kill JFK? [8 p.m. EST Sunday on Discovery Channel], JFK: The Ruby Connection [9 p.m. EST Sunday on Discovery Channel] and The Lost JFK Tapes: The Assassination [9 p.m. EST Monday on National Geographic Channel].

Television long ago discovered that the Kennedy assassination is a goldmine for viewers and advertising so don’t expect them to “solve the big mystery” and kill the golden goose.

At the end of the day, we’re reminded of the many lives that were changed suddenly and forever by the shots that rang out in Dallas over four and half decades ago.

Now if only history and the American people could come to terms with the real truth about Oswald’s terrible deed.

James W. Sibert, A Witness to History

Former FBI agent Jim Sibert, 91, holds a photo of President John F. Kennedy in his limousine just before he was killed in Dallas. ANDREW WEST/NEWS-PRESS.COM

by GLENN MILLER / News-Press.com

South Fort Myers resident Jim Sibert has answered the questions for 46 years, ever since the night the FBI special agent observed the autopsy of President John F. Kennedy.

Over the years, Sibert, 91, has been interviewed for books. When the other FBI agent who witnessed the autopsy, Francis X. O'Neill, died earlier this year in Cape Cod, Mass., Sibert was quoted in a Boston Globe obituary of O'Neill.

The calls and questions keep coming from teachers, authors and historians.

"He told me a couple of years ago that he was never going to be interviewed again," said Paul Mitchell, one of Sibert's neighbors at the Cypress Cove retirement community on the grounds of HealthPark Medical Center.

Sibert can't always say no. He has a story to share. Theories and debates on conspiracies and motives and alleged cover-ups fill bookshelves and bop around the Internet. Sibert doubts any secrets remain to be unearthed.

"After 46 years," Sibert said, "there couldn't be."

Now, as Sunday's anniversary of the assassination approaches, Sibert is being asked again about that historic day, Nov. 22, 1963.

"It started out like a normal day," Sibert said.

At the time, Sibert was a 45-year-old FBI special agent stationed in Maryland and only a year younger than Kennedy. Late in the day, the president of the United States was dead in front of him with a hole in his head.

"It was a piece blown out of the skull," Sibert said.

Sibert and O'Neill met the casket at Andrews Air Force Base and accompanied it to Bethesda Naval Hospital. They were assigned to watch the autopsy, stay with the body and, as Sibert and O'Neill noted in a report dictated four days after the examination, "to obtain bullets reportedly in the President's body."

When Kennedy's body was removed from its casket and white sheets were unwrapped from him, Sibert recalls how the sheet around his head was blood-soaked.

"His eyes were fixed open," Sibert recalled.

No clothing came with the slain president. The suit Kennedy wore in the open-topped limousine had been cut off in Dallas, where he was gunned down.

What happened in Dallas that day remains contested with factions still debating whether Lee Harvey Oswald was the only shooter or if he was part of a wide-ranging conspiracy.

"I don't buy the single-bullet theory," Sibert said, "I won't go as far as to say there was no conspiracy."

Sibert and O'Neill's report, titled "Autopsy of Body of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy," stated that Commander James J. Humes, who conducted the autopsy, noted another wound.

"During the latter stages of this autopsy, Dr. Humes located an opening which appeared to be a bullet hole which was below the shoulders and two inches to the right of the middle line of the spinal column," Sibert and O'Neill reported.

Sibert won't guess on possible conspirators, on who else may have shot Kennedy other than Oswald.

"I wouldn't have any way of knowing," Sibert said. "See, that's another thing. All my work was in Bethesda, Maryland."

The FBI, Sibert said, had no jurisdiction in the investigation. The FBI Web site notes that "when President Kennedy was assassinated, the crime was a local homicide; no federal law addressed the murder of a President."

During the autopsy, Sibert couldn't let the magnitude of the event overwhelm his duty.

"You just kind of think, 'This happened to the president of the United States,'" Sibert said.

Until the president's murder, Sibert had observed only two other autopsies in his career.

One was of a little kidnapped boy. The other was on the wife of an FBI clerk who had died unexpectedly. That autopsy was held to make sure there had been no foul play.

Sibert recalls the somber atmosphere during the president's autopsy.

"There wasn't any joking," Sibert said. "No comic remarks made."

The experience, Sibert said, didn't change him profoundly.

But every now and then he gets calls from people who are still curious. There are also the memories of the history he witnessed.

"The other thing was the ferocity of the wounds," Sibert said. "That's tough. I never had nightmares, but it's something that flashes through my mind a lot of times."

Still, he's not obsessed with what he saw or what may have been behind the assassination.

"I don't think about it every day," Sibert said. "Generally, when something comes up, an article in the paper, something about the assassination, somebody wants to know about it. It's just another incident in your bureau career that you handled the best you could."

Sibert continued with the FBI until 1972, handling criminal cases.

Now, the former World War II bomber pilot and FBI agent is a widower who plays cards Friday evenings with Cypress Cove neighbors.

"Jim is a wonderful man," said neighbor and card player Elsie Thomas. "He's very interesting. Very knowledgeable. And he likes to talk about his time as an FBI man."

Source: News-Press.com

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Replica 1963 Dallas police squad car to honor officer slain by Lee Harvey Oswald

This restored replica of a 1963 Ford Galaxie police car will serve as a memorial to J.D. Tippit, the Dallas officer slain by Lee Harvey Oswald, and other officers killed in the line of duty. JEFFREY PORTER/DMN

by STEVE BLOW / Dallas Morning News

As another Nov. 22 approaches, a fresh round of attention is sure to focus on Kennedy, Oswald and Ruby.

And once again, scant attention will be paid to another name – Tippit.

While fallen Dallas police Officer J.D. Tippit hasn't exactly been overlooked in assassination history, he has certainly been overshadowed.

But from this year forward, a shiny black memorial will see to it that Officer Tippit is more widely remembered.

It's a memorial in the form of a '63 Ford Galaxie police squad car.

On Friday, the gleaming exact replica of Tippit's car will be escorted to the spot on Patton Avenue in Oak Cliff where the officer confronted Oswald and was killed 46 years ago.

The car and honor escorts will stop there for a time of photos and remembrance. Then the car will be taken on to the grounds of the Dallas Police Association headquarters, where it will become the centerpiece of a permanent memorial to Tippit and all other Dallas officers killed in the line of duty.

The story of this unusual memorial begins in an unusual place – in a junkyard in Arlington.

About five years ago, Dallas police were notified that one of their old patrol cars – possibly Tippit's – was rusting away in the salvage yard.

Well, it wasn't Tippit's car. Amazingly, city records revealed that his car was put back in routine service the very day of his death. It was eventually wrecked and scrapped.

In those first few years after President Kennedy's assassination, Dallas was trying to erase history, not preserve it.

No, the car in the Arlington salvage yard was actually an old movie prop – the vehicle used as Tippit's in the 1977 television movie The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald.

It was, however, a real '63 Galaxie 500 just like Tippit drove. And those cars are increasingly rare. So the idea of a replica memorial began to take shape.

The Dallas Police Association took possession of the car, but restoration proved to be a very slow and expensive project. And that's when the Texas Fire Museum stepped in.

The museum on the western edge of Dallas is primarily dedicated to restoring old fire trucks, but its members had the expertise to easily handle a police car. So the project was undertaken.

"There she is," Dallas police Senior Cpl. Rick Janich said, showing me the nearly completed car last week at the Texas Fire Museum. "We've still got to get a whip antenna installed on it."

Compared to the technological marvels that today's squad cars are, "the Tippit car" looks so simple and innocent. Its emergency lights consist of two small round blinkers on the roof.

"The retirees call 'em Mickey Mouse lights," Janich said. "They look like ears."

Scott Simpson, president of the Texas Fire Museum, said, "This has really been a meaningful project for all of us. I think there will be a lot of tears shed the day it rolls out of here."

Assassination researcher Farris Rookstool has served as technical adviser to the car's restoration. "It's 100 percent accurate," he assured.

Rookstool loves this project because artifacts – even replicas – have a power that history books do not. "It transports you back in time. It brings history alive," he said.

Indeed, as I stood beside squad car No. 10, images of 39-year-old Officer Tippit came to mind more vividly than ever before. I can only imagine what it will mean to the officer's widow, Marie Tippit, who will be on hand for Friday's ceremonies.

The car may be a replica, but the emotions are genuine.

Source: Dallas Morning News

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

JFK Investigation Photos Now Online

by ERIC KREINDLER / NBC Dallas-Fort Worth News

Photographs taken by Dallas police and used as evidence in the criminal investigation following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are now available for public viewing.

The University of North Texas Libraries' Digital Projects unit placed the photographs in its Portal to Texas History.

UNT recently received a grant from the Summerlee Foundation to digitize 404 images taken by the Dallas Police Department during the week following Kennedy’s assassination. The Dallas Municipal Archives, a division of the City of Dallas City Secretary’s Office, possesses all of the original investigation files except for those that have been transferred permanently to the federal investigation collection held at the National Archives.

“We are delighted to be working with the Portal to Texas History to make the collections of the Dallas Municipal Archives more accessible, and look forward to a long relationship,” said City of Dallas City Secretary Deborah Watkins.

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert said, “it’s critical that these important photographs not only be preserved, but be available to all for study and scholarship.”

The black-and-white photographs include the “sniper’s nest” in downtown Dallas’ Texas School Book Depository Building, where Oswald allegedly fired on Kennedy’s motorcade; the back and front yards of the boarding house at 214 Neely where Oswald lived; Dealey Plaza; the intersection at Tenth Street and Patton Avenue where Oswald allegedly fatally shot Dallas patrolman J.D. Tippit; interiors of the Texas Theater, where Oswald was arrested by Dallas police; and the basement of Dallas City Hall, where Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald on Nov. 24, 1963.

Source: NBC Dallas-Fort Worth News

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Jack Ruby's hat commands $53,775 at Kennedy assassination item auction

by WENDY HUNDLEY / The Dallas Morning News

Jack Ruby’s signature fedora commanded $53,775 Saturday at an auction of items linked to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The gray felt hat, worn by Ruby when he shot Lee Harvey Oswald, prompted spirited bidding during the auction, said Doug Norwine of Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas.

Several collectors were vying for the item, which was expected to sell for at least $21,000.

“It’s a piece of history,” Norwine said of the hat. “It’s truly one of a kind. That weekend of destiny in Dallas changed the social climate in America. For any baby boomer, it made an indelible impression.”

The shackles that Ruby wore when he lay dying at Parkland Memorial Hospital sold for $11,054. The chain, believed to have been used to prevent his body from being stolen, was expected to sell for at least $3,000.

An X-ray of Ruby’s head by a nervous radiological technologist garnered $776 — about the price that was expected.

Another hot commodity at the auction was the front page of The Dallas Morning News signed by Kennedy. The paper — worth a nickel when it came off the presses in 1963 — sold for $38,837.

The president signed the paper for a maid at a Fort Worth hotel on the morning of his death.

Another item from the same era, a rocking chair used by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., sold for $8,365.

The Lincoln rocker was given to the civil rights leader by his editor, Hermine Isaacs Popper, to use while he worked on his writing at her White Plains, N.Y., cabin, according to the auction house.

Source: Dallas Morning News

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Items tied to Kennedy assassination to be auctioned in Dallas

by AVI SELK / The Dallas Morning News

Calling all Kennedy connoisseurs.If you've got John F. Kennedy assassination fascination (and money to burn), Heritage Auction Galleries wants you to come down today and get yourself some souvenirs from Dallas' "weekend of destiny," as they call it.

The gallery's got a decade's worth of Jack Ruby remnants – from the hat he lived in to the chains he died in.

They've got the autograph Kennedy signed just a few hours before he was shot. "Chillingly historic," as the gallery's entertainment director put it.

Opening bids for the 1 p.m. auction are already sky-high – and expected to go higher.

Fashionistas can bid on the full Ruby ensemble – fedora, shackles and an X-ray of his skull – for an opening price of less than $25,000.

Literati who'd like to curl up with an original police report of Ruby's arrest might get it for as little as $6,000 – though the gallery doubts that price will last.

And for the cost of a Camry (or two), you might even walk away with a special edition of The Dallas Morning News – signed by Kennedy on his way to that fateful motorcade.

So if morbid memorabilia's your thing, get out your titanium credit card and get ready for some mid-holiday shopping: costly like Christmas – and kind of creepy like Halloween.

1 hat: $21,000+

Before Ruby became infamous for gunning down Lee Harvey Oswald, the nightclub owner was already famous for his trademark gray fedora.

"That was his thing," said Joyce Gordon, a former stripper who would see her boss with the hat over his head whenever a roof wasn't.

The fedora was so distinct that when Gordon heard it described in a breaking news report, she realized immediately that Ruby had gone rogue.

"They said over the radio a man in a gray felt hat had just shot Oswald," she said.
"I said, 'Oh my God, he did it.' "

The hat has been around the block. Today's anonymous seller got it in Las Vegas last year for a high bid of $61,000.

At least one collector in Beverly Hills says he will be sizing up the hat today, though he didn't want his name used – lest a rival spoil his chances.

It would complement his private collection, he said, which already includes Oswald's bloody toe tag. ($83,000, if you're wondering.)

1 X-ray: $657+

If 20 grand seems steep for Ruby's hat, a few hundred bucks might get you a peek inside his head.

January 1964 – Radiological technologist Shirley Davis suspected it wouldn't be a normal day at her Dallas clinic when the doctor told her she needed to be at work before dawn. And don't tell a soul, he said.

An hour after she arrived, in walked the sheriff and three armed deputies, towing a handcuffed Jack Ruby in need of an X-ray.

Davis was a little nervous but mustered her courage and ordered the police out of the room during the procedure – for their own safety, she told them.

The killer turned out to be a lousy patient.

Even though he was ordered to lie still during the scans, Ruby couldn't resist raising his head, ruining an X-ray. The doctor gave it to Davis as a souvenir.

Four decades later, Davis, now Shirley Harter, had nearly forgotten about the skull shot when her husband read about the auction in the newspaper – and saw how much the fedora was worth.

"Do you still have that X-ray?" he asked.

1 chain: $3,000+

Harter doesn't know why Ruby needed X-rays that day. It might be related to his lawyers' attempts to argue that a rare form of epilepsy made him shoot Oswald.

If he'd come in a few months later, there's a chance the scan might have caught the cancer growing inside him.

Three years later he lay dying in Parkland Memorial Hospital, his leg chained to the bed. But even before his death, the killer was already a commodity.

The shackles weren't to stop Ruby from escaping, according to the guard who first put them on the market.

They were in case someone tried to steal his body.

1 front page: $24,000+

At a hotel in Fort Worth, Kennedy spared a minute from his last morning on earth to autograph the front page of the day's newspaper for a maid.

"I think she caught him off guard," said Doug Norwine, the gallery's entertainment director.

She might not have caught him at all if the president had opened the paper before he signed it.

When Kennedy finally did so on his way to Dallas, he was dismayed to read a full-page ad accusing him of selling corn to Communists, among other evils.

According to the historian William Manchester, the president looked up and asked his aide: "What kind of journalism do you call The Dallas Morning News?"

The pricey kind, it turns out. Norwine said the maid's newspaper, worth a nickel before it was autographed, shot up by $10,000 in the first three days of advance bidding.

7 digits: priceless?

Not everything Ruby nets riches, alas.

Gordon still carries around a business card her boss gave her when they met, with his number scribbled on the back.

She called Heritage a couple weeks before the auction, hoping to cash in on the card, but the gallery didn't want it.

With an autograph, "it would be worth thousands," she said.

"But because Jack didn't sign the back of it, they said it was probably worth little or nothing."

Lucky for Gordon, this isn't the 1960s.

"They told me I'd probably get more by putting it on eBay."


About 700 pop-culture items, including the JFK memorabilia, are up for bid today at Heritage Auction Galleries.

Location: 3500 Maple Ave., 17th Floor, Dallas
Time: 1 p.m., today
Online information and bidding: www.ha.com/c/index.zx

Source: Dallas Morning News

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dartmouth Professor finds that iconic Oswald photo was not faked


Dartmouth Computer Scientist Hany Farid has new evidence regarding a photograph of accused John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Farid, a pioneer in the field of digital forensics, digitally analyzed an iconic image of Oswald pictured in a backyard setting holding a rifle in one hand and Marxist newspapers in the other. Oswald and others claimed that the incriminating photo was a fake, noting the seemingly inconsistent lighting and shadows. After analyzing the photo with modern-day forensic tools, Farid says the photo almost certainly was not altered.

“If we had found evidence of photo tampering, then it would have suggested a broader plot to kill JFK,” said Farid, who is also the director of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth. “Those who believe that there was a broader conspiracy can no longer point to this photo as possible evidence.” Farid added that federal officials long ago said that this image had not been tampered with, but a surprising number of skeptics still assert that there was a conspiracy.

The study will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal Perception.

Farid and his team have developed a number of digital forensic tools used to determine whether digital photos have been manipulated, and his research is often used by law enforcement officials and in legal proceedings. The tools can measure statistical inconsistencies in the underlying image pixels, improbable lighting and shadow, physically impossible perspective distortion, and other artifacts introduced by photo manipulators. The play of light and shadow was fundamental in the Oswald photo analysis.

“The human brain, while remarkable in many aspects, also has its weaknesses,” says Farid. “The visual system can be quite inept at making judgments regarding 3-D geometry, lighting, and shadows.”

At a casual glance, the lighting and shadows in the Oswald photo appear to many to be incongruous with the outdoor lighting. To determine if this was the case, Farid constructed a 3-D model of Oswald’s head and portions of the backyard scene, from which he was able to determine that a single light source, the sun, could explain all of the shadows in the photo.

“It is highly improbable that anyone could have created such a perfect forgery with the technology available in 1963,” said Farid. With no evidence of tampering, he concluded that the incriminating photo was authentic.

”As our digital forensic tools become more sophisticated, we increasingly have the ability to apply them to historic photos in an attempt to resolve some long-standing mysteries,” said Farid.

Source: Dartmouth College

Sunday, October 11, 2009

TV Alert: "JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America"

Part 1 of "JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America" airs 9-11 p.m. EST Sunday, October 11; Part 2 airs Monday, October 12 on The History Channel (check local listings).

by KEVIN McDONOUGH / Syndicated TV Columnist

OK, I groaned a little when I got the press material for "JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America" (9 p.m., Sunday, History Channel, concluding Monday). I thought I had seen every scrap of footage related to the Kennedy assassination far too many times already.

Boy was I wrong. "JFK" presents a remarkable parade of clips of home movies, raw news footage, police dispatches and local Dallas coverage -- much of it never before aired. And it does so in chronological order and entirely without narration.

The lack of voiceover gives the stream of footage incredible power. Nobody's telling you what happened or how you're supposed to interpret it, and this frees the viewer to re-experience a moment of local chaos, national trauma and a time when the fledgling medium of TV news was just figuring itself out.

While presented in a minute-by-minute fashion, the clips arrive weird, raw and jumbled. The documentary often seems like a video version of an archaeological dig, with the editors trying to make sense of so many broken shards of pottery.

A stripper from Jack Ruby's Carousel club appears on a talk show just hours after the arrest of the assassin's assassin. We hear a clip from a radio broadcast of a Philharmonic orchestra as the conductor announces the president's murder to a thunderous gasp from the audience, before leading the musicians in an impromptu performance of a Beethoven funeral march. A friend of Jack Ruby suggests that he saw Lee Harvey Oswald in his nightclub just a week before the assassination. Local correspondents insist on calling the alleged shooter Lee Harold Oswald.

We also learn from a number of clips that, contrary to TV legend, Walter Cronkite did not break the news of the president's death, but that it dribbled out from various sources, with the tentative nature of a horrible rumor nobody wanted to believe.

Again, take this from a jaded Kennedy buff, confirmed history nut and professional media junkie: "JFK" is hypnotic, powerful, spellbinding stuff.

JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America (Part One)

Just hours before his death, John F. Kennedy appeared before a crowd in Fort Worth, Texas in what would be his final speech, delivering one last homage to American freedom.

This poignant moment is part of a vast historical record of sights and sounds captured on camera during those catastrophic days. The Zapruder film is only the beginning; much more archival material of the events surrounding the assassination exists.

This two-part special uses unique, rarely seen and heard footage to document the Kennedy assassination and the nearly 50 years of speculation and controversy that changed America. This material comes from a range of sources including eyewitness home movies, Dallas police dispatch radio recordings, and raw news footage. Part 1 is a shocking, unflinching look at the assassination of the President and the days that followed.

JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America (Part Two)

The second part examines the aftermath, and the enduring controversies that emerged as succeeding generations of Americans struggled to comprehend the sudden murder of an unforgettable leader.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Irving buys Paine House, made infamous by Lee Harvey Oswald

by BRANDON FORMBY / The Dallas Morning News

Autry Lewis stood in front of his Irving home on a November morning waiting for a ride. The man who sometimes stayed at Ruth Paine's house across the street was waiting for his ride, too.

Lewis didn't see what the man grabbed from Paine's garage before he hopped into a friend's car that Friday morning. But Lewis learned from television broadcasts hours later that the man's name was Lee Harvey Oswald.

By then, President John F. Kennedy and Dallas police Officer J.D. Tippit were dead, and the nation was mourning. Oswald was in custody, and the house across the street, at 2515 W. Fifth St., was inextricably linked to one of the most infamous moments in American history.

"Many people aren't aware of all of that," Irving Mayor Herbert Gears said Wednesday, one day before the City Council unanimously agreed to spend $175,000 to buy what's now commonly called the Paine House.

Marina Oswald

Ruth Paine, described as a kindly Quaker woman, took Oswald's estranged wife Marina and their daughter into her house two months before the assassination. The relationship between Paine and the Oswalds was the subject of a Thomas Mallon book, Mrs. Paine's Garage and the Murder of John F. Kennedy.

Paine, who lived in California as late as 2007, could not be reached for comment last week.

Marina Oswald, who has since remarried, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Shortly after the assassination, Paine told The Dallas Morning News that she invited Marina Oswald to live with her after learning the woman was pregnant with her second child.

"I was sympathetic," Paine told The News. "There was nobody to help her, and I felt she shouldn't be alone. So I invited her, one woman to another, to stay with me."

Lewis and his wife, Priscilla, moved onto the street in 1963, months before the assassination. They met Paine when they first moved in but rarely interacted with her. They typically saw the Oswalds but didn't know their names.

Lee Harvey Oswald spent weeknights in Oak Cliff but typically showed up to the Paine House on Fridays and spent weekends there, visiting his wife and their daughters.

The Oswalds had argued in the days leading up to the assassination.

Marina Oswald told the Warren Commission investigating the assassination that she didn't really suspect anything out of the ordinary when her husband showed up at the Paine House on Nov. 21, 1963 – a Thursday.

They argued again that night when Lee Harvey Oswald begged his wife to move back in with him. She reportedly refused.

Lewis said he sat at his dining room table that night and looked out his home's front windows. He said he could see Oswald fiddling with something in the Paine House garage. But he couldn't see what exactly.

"Had I had a pair of binoculars ..." Lewis said.

And when Oswald grabbed something wrapped in shipping paper from the garage the next morning, Lewis didn't think much of it. Until later that day.

Priscilla Lewis was working at a law firm in Dallas in 1963. She was at lunch with a friend when the waitress came over and told them the president had been shot.

When Priscilla Lewis returned to work, she got a phone call about something happening at the Paine House.

"The neighborhood was crawling with police officers and detectives as soon as it happened," Autry Lewis said.

Out to the garage

When the police showed up at the Paine House and asked Marina Oswald whether her husband had a rifle, she showed them to the garage where he had kept one wrapped in a blanket.

"They opened the blanket, but there was no rifle there," she told the Warren Commission. "Then, of course, I already knew it was Lee."

Marina Oswald and Paine were later fully cleared of any complicity and were considered to be cooperative in the ensuing investigations.

Irving officials said they've been interested in buying the house for about a decade. So when current owner Kimberly Short finally became ready to sell, the city jumped at the opportunity to secure what many see as a historic site – even if its significance is born from tragedy and infamy.

"As unfortunate as that incident was, it's still a very historical moment in the region of Dallas-Fort Worth," said Paul Gooch, Irving's community services director.

Interest remains

Under the agreement, Short is allowed to remain in the house for up to one year. She did not return phone calls seeking comment last week.

In a 2006 interview with The News, Short said she didn't mind the interest that passers-by had in her house. Just as long as they weren't sly about it.

"I know what you're doing," she said at the time. "It doesn't bother me. But don't be sneaky."

The $175,000 price tag the city agreed to pay is well above the $84,000 in value assigned by the Dallas Central Appraisal District. But Gears said $175,000 is a steal even if the city is just now exploring what they want to do with the house.

"Of course, DCAD is not going to include the historical significance of the property," he said.

As Autry Lewis sat on his front porch looking across West Fifth Street last week, he said he wasn't surprised the city made the move. While Dallas' Sixth Floor Museum is a point of national interest, Autry Lewis said the Paine House also still draws its fair share of visitors. Not that he minds too much.

"If I'm out here, I'll talk to them," he said.

Source: Dallas Morning News

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Dallas-Cuba Connection - 2009 Update


Documents released last week under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIPA) detail a secret CIA-National Archives (NARA)-State Department investigation of Cuban intelligence officer Fabian Escalante and reveal, among other things, that Escalante had an indirect connection to accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, and that my revealing conversation with former Assassinations Record Review Board (ARRB) Executive Director Jeremy Gunn about the Escalante files was accurately reported in my 2008 book, Brothers in Arms.

In January 2006, the German Public Television network WDR aired Wilfried Huismann’s Rendezvous with Death, a 90-minute film exploring the Cuban connection in the Kennedy assassination on which I served as co-writer and investigator. Among the many new pieces of information we touched on was an allegation by President Lyndon B. Johnson aide Martin Underwood that CIA Mexico City Station Chief Winston “Win” Scott told Underwood that the Mexico station worried about unvetted reports that senior Cuban Intelligence operative Fabian Escalante, known as a “wet operations” or assassination specialist, had contact with assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City seven weeks before Kennedy’s murder, and that Escalante had flown into Dallas on the day of the assassination.

In my 2008 book (with Stephen Molton) Brothers in Arms: The Kennedys, The Castros, and the Politics of Murder, I discussed how this Escalante information, which first came to me in the 1990s, was turned over to the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) against Underwood’s wishes. During a 2003 dinner with former ARRB Executive Director Jeremy Gunn, years after the Board’s dissolution, I asked him what had happened to the information I gave him so many years before. I recorded the conversation and transcribed it that night. I included a verbatim transcript of that recorded conversation in Brothers (p.483):

GUNN: “The single most interesting part of the story is Mexico City, and the single most tantalizing lead we received was your report on Escalante, which we followed up aggressively. I went to CIA and saw their file on him [Escalante], which I can’t discuss because it’s classified. All I will say is that I saw some things there that made my jaw drop. Bottom line, follow Escalante, especially where he was before the assassination [that is, in Minsk and Mexico City]…After we asked for the file, the CIA perked up and took an interest in it. I don’t know what they did about it, but it was clear they hadn’t looked at it in years… I didn’t trust Underwood when he spoke to us and tried to water down what he told you about his meeting with Scott regarding Escalante. Underwood tried his best to put us off until we finally subpoenaed him.” [Emphasis added]

When the German film Rendezvous with Death debuted three years later, I was asked to come to the National Archives to show the film and talk about my research. Again, from Brothers (pp. 483-484):

After my film with Willi [Huismann], Rendezvous With Death, played on television networks in sixteen countries (but not in the US), I was asked to show the film separately to the National Archives JFK staff, the CIA declassification staff, and US Archivist Alan Weinstein and his staff. In all, some sixty government officials watched the film, most taking extensive notes. As a result, there was a swell of interest in declassifying the files on Escalante and other Cuban agents. Using back channels, official new demands have been sent to foreign governments to come clean with what they know. I have been informed that, during this process, Jeremy Gunn was brought in to give his version of the story, and he repeated almost word for word what he had told me in 2003. Other senior members of the ARRB have recently expressed their frustration at not being able to obtain the KGB’s encrypted file on Oswald, which they were offered for a price, before the offer was withdrawn. At this writing, they continue to lobby Washington officials to press for the material. The National Archives has been negotiating behind-the-scenes with the CIA since 2006 to fulfill their pledge to release files relevant the Cubans mentioned in the film, as well as the material Jeremy Gunn perused in the 1990s.

After Brothers was published in October 2008, and excerpted in American Heritage magazine, DC attorney Jim Lesar posted online an email response from Gunn, in which Gunn weighed in on my 2008 recounting of his statements to me five years earlier:

GUNN: “Part of the quote [on page 483 of Brothers] sounds about right but the part about "follow Escalante" is hyped and misleading. Sort of makes me realize that it's better to say nothing at all rather [than] see how others might hear it and then use it. Bottom line – I saw nothing in the file about JFK or the assassination.”

Hyped? As you will see, Gunn told NARA and the CIA in 2006 the same thing he told me three years earlier – namely, to follow Escalante. We know this because the CIA-NARA-State Department investigations of Escalante, and others named in the book and film, continued below the radar for over two years. Among other things, the investigation generated 236 pages of records – including their discussions with Gunn about my reporting – all of which (with the exception four pages withheld by NARA in full) I recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

According to the recently released records, two CIA and seven NARA officials interviewed Jeremy Gunn on March 28, 2006. Among other things, Gunn told them:

  • He read the CIA’s 201 File on Escalante. While Gunn was only given “limited access to the file at the CIA facility in January 1996. There was some discussion of a follow-up session, but it never took place.” The Escalante file “was always an asterisk in his [Gunn’s] mind.” Gunn “did not recall speaking with anyone else on the ARRB about the file…He thinks the issue was not completely resolved in his mind, hence the request for a follow-up visit.” [Emphasis added]
  • “While there was no evidence of contact [in the file], Escalante had an indirect connection to Oswald.” [Emphasis added]
  • Gunn was asked, if Underwood was not a credible source, how did he come up with the name “Escalante” in 1994 to give to me? Gunn didn’t have a direct answer, but a NARA official noted, “That is the one aspect of this issue that made Jeremy curious and continues to stick in his mind.” The NARA official later added one more thing: “The only thing that remained an open question in his [Gunn’s] mind (after reviewing the file) was the tangential connection to Oswald.” [Emphasis added.]
  • “Jeremy’s opinion was that NARA should re-review the Escalante file.” [Emphasis added.][Source: NARA Memo: “Notes From Our Meeting with Jeremy Gunn”; Steve Tilley to David Mengel, 3-28-06]
In other words, follow Escalante. In a recent conversation, a senior NARA official told me that Jeremy Gunn’s testimony played a key role in NARA’s decision to keep lobbying (in vain) for the CIA’s 201 Escalante file, and other materials, for over two years.

The Herculean efforts of the joint NARA officials, touched off by our film and Gunn’s interest in Escalante, while unable to pry the Escalante files from Langley, did produce other memos of interest:

  • In February 2006 US Archivist Allen Weinstein joined the lobbying effort, personally writing long letters to Nicholas Burns, the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs asking that Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice obtain extant Soviet and Mexican assassination records. That same month Weinstein wrote CIA Director Porter Goss asking for release of Escalante’s “201” file. Weinstein mentioned a handwritten record that notes the CIA has a file on Escalante in Mexico City prior to 1970. Although Weinstein might be referring to Underwood’s handwritten notes, he seems to be referring to something else, since Underwood’s notes make no mention of “a file on Escalante in Mexico City prior to 1970.” [Emphasis added]
  • On October 18, 2007, the CIA finally responded to the NARA requests, noting: “The JFK Collection at NARA contains the vast majority of documents found in Escalante’s 201 file that pertain to assassination related events, with the exception of a very small amount of information that was previously denied in full and must remain so until 2017.” [Emphasis added] [Source: Letter to Steve Tilley, NARA from Bruce Barkan, CIA Chief of Historical Records Collection.]
  • “A document in the [NARA JFK] Collection discusses the possibility that there were significant records pertaining to Escalante in Mexico City, especially for the period of 1963 to 1964…I understand that everyone at CIA is taking this matter seriously.” [Emphasis added][Source: NARA Memo of 2-14-06 meeting with fifty CIA personnel]
(For this writer, all the new Escalante revelations beg the question: was Jeremy Gunn placed in an uncomfortable position by Lesar’s email to him? In other words, Gunn would have to denigrate my reporting, or else admit his failure to report this important material to the rest of the Board, an embarrassing admission, to be sure. I have spoken in recent days with NARA officials who stated that the Brothers passage about Gunn’s word-for-word restatement to them in 2006 of what he told me in 2003 about Fabian Escalante is completely accurate. Given what is in the new FOIA release, I would argue that, if anything, I underplayed it. No “hype” necessary.)

  • NARA obtained a statement from archivist Vicente Capello, who oversees the Mexican Secret Police records we gained first access to for our film, Rendezvous with Death. Capello “confirmed the existence of a file [in the Mexican General Archive] regarding the supposed orchestration of the assassination of John F. Kennedy by Cubans inside Mexico. Mr. Capello declined to offer details about the document or say whether or not the president of Cuba, Fidel Castro Ruz, participated in the plot.” [Emphasis added] Capello noted that the JFK files had only been opened in 2002, and that Huismann and I were the first reporters who asked to see them.
  • Miscellaneous notes reveal that former ARRB Chairman, Judge John Tunheim, and ARRB member Anna Nelson played key, behind-the-scenes roles in trying to persuade the State Department and the CIA to pursue the records mentioned in Rendezvous. In one email, Nelson noted, “I think all of this is fascinating. Had the State Dept. not messed us up I think we could have gotten some documents from Minsk… [The filmmakers], especially since they are not American, probably had the kind of success we could never get. But of course these are absolutely crucial documents for the collection.” [Source: Email from Nelson to Tilley, 3-21-06]
  • In a NARA interview with Willi Huismann, the director noted that he had re-visited the main Cuban source, “Oscar Marino” (pseudonym), in 2006. According to a NARA email, here is what Huismann recounted: “[He] met with Marino, who had gone to see the film on his own and was quite pleased that he had participated in the project. Marino [is] concerned that Cuban G-2 [Cuba’s CIA] still after him and wants to keep his real identity under wraps. He’s afraid if Cuban G-2 locates him that he will be forced to sign an agreement saying that the interviews were not true and that he was paid one million dollars to participate in the film.” [Source: Email Marty McGann to David Mengel, 7-12-06]
Interesting, isn’t it? Marino was not afraid the Cuban G-2 might kill him. No, he was worried that the G-2 might force him to sign something that would discredit the filmmakers and deny the truth as he saw it. It’s worth noting again that Marino did not receive a penny for his participation. To the contrary, he refused to accept even taxi fare to the airport. One final footnote, Marino passed away in 2008. Efforts are underway to see if we can finally release his true identity.

For those who think that there is nothing new to be learned about the JFK assassination story, here’s a related tidbit to chew on.

Our 2006 film Rendezvous with Death utilized a current Soviet FSB source and a former Cuban intelligence officer, both of whom independently verified that Cuba’s initial contacts with Oswald in 1962 were broached by none other than Rolando Cubela, the Kennedy administration’s 1963 would-be assassin known as AMLASH. While our sources had no further information as to how the Cubela-Oswald contacts were facilitated, we had no doubts about their veracity.

After the publication of Brothers in 2008, I was made aware of a stunning piece of information that might offer a clue to the furtive liaisons: a December 30, 1960, FBI memo that details Cubela’s movements in Mexico City during that period. The document itself is not so surprising, but its location is: the CIA’s 201 File on Lee Oswald’s closest friend in Dallas – oil geologist and occasional CIA contact, George DeMohrenschildt, who had his own Cuban travels and contacts since his time working for the Cuban-Venezuelan Oil Voting Trust Company.

Literally no one at the FBI, CIA, or NARA can explain why a “Cubela in Mexico City” document should be placed in the CIA file of Oswald’s close friend. It of course begs the questions:
  • Did Cubela have contact with DeMohrenschildt? and if so;
  • Did DeMohrenschildt act as intermediary to his friend, Lee Oswald?
In early 2009, I obtained the relevant pages from NARA, with this explanation:

Dear Mr. Russo,

This is in response to your December 12, 2008, e-mail regarding a document from Rolando Cubela's 201 file that was also filed in George DeMohrenschildt's 201 file. I reviewed the two folders that you cited as well as two additional folders that were continuations of those folders. I did locate one document from Cubela's file that was also in DeMohrenschildt's file. It is a Department of Justice memo dated December 30, 1960 Re: Foreign Political Matters - Cuba. The document is located in RG 233, Segregated CIA Files Box 101, folder "64-50 Folder 22 [1 of 2] Cubela Secades, Rolando." The second copy is located in RG 233, Segregated CIA Files Box 13, folder "64-5 16B [2 of 2] DeMohrenschildt, George."


Special Access/FOIA Staff

Lastly, lest you forget, from my 2001 article with David Corn in The Nation:

“Fifteen hundred linear feet and fifty boxes of Robert F. Kennedy's classified and confidential papers are stored at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, and most of the material is closed to the public. No other Attorney General walked off the job with such a trove of government paperwork. A partial guide to these records lists scores of intriguing files, including documents pertaining to Operation Mongoose, the CIA and Cuba, Edward Lansdale and Edward Murrow. (The guide also refers to Frank Sinatra files that contain "references to various gangsters, including [Sam] Giancana and others...including Judith Campbell," a JFK mistress.) But the Kennedy family considers these papers--many of which Robert Kennedy obtained from the CIA, the FBI or the State Department--the private property of his heirs. It strictly limits access to the records, which are being stored at government expense. Several eminent historians who have requested permission to examine this historical treasure--including Richard Reeves, Robert Dallek, Nigel Hamilton, Laurence Leamer and Seymour Hersh--have been turned away by the Kennedys. Evan Thomas was allowed to see only portions of the material. And Max Kennedy, a son of Robert and the person who oversees these records, did not respond to our request to look at the files for this story. Official papers RFK generated in the course of public business should be open to public inspection, and the release of classified government records that he took when he left office ought to be controlled not by the Kennedy family but by government declassifiers subject to the Freedom of Information Act.”

* * *

In summary, we now know: 1) the CIA is withholding assassination related records, especially those that note an indirect link between a known Cuban “wet operations” specialist and Kennedy’s killer until 2017 (in apparent violation of the JFK Records Act); 2) even senior government officials -- some being Presidential appointees -- have not been able to persuade the Agency to comply with the Act regarding these documents; 3) no one can explain why an AMLASH memo was placed in the CIA’s file on Oswald’s confidante; and (4) The Kennedy Library continues to deny access the largest Cold War government document reserves in private hands.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Reading Room Project at The Sixth Floor Museum


Corgan Associates, Inc., one of the largest U.S.-based architectural firms focused on planning and design, has been selected to design the new Reading Room for The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. Corgan will be renovating the former administrative offices in the former Texas School Book Depository, providing greater access to the museum’s growing collection of 35,000 items related to President John F. Kennedy and the events surrounding his assassination. The Reading Room represents the latest initiative by the nonprofit museum, which draws more than 325,000 visitors annually.

Offering unparalleled views into Dealey Plaza, the new Reading Room will be located on the first floor of the Dallas County Administration Building at 411 Elm. It will feature supervised access and assistance by collections/library staff to the museum’s library and research collections which includes nearly 5,000 volumes, 1,000 videos, more than 700 video-recorded interviews and public programs and some 2,000 historic magazines and journals.

“Corgan is excited to be a part of Dallas history, working with The Sixth Floor Museum to create a new space in a building that is ingrained in the memories of the city’s residents and tourists alike,” said Corgan Managing Principal, David Lind. “The Reading Room is a much needed addition that will now provide researchers and educators with a functional yet comfortable space to view the archived history that draws so many visitors to the museum each year from all over the world.”

“As we approach the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, the museum has renewed its responsibility to make its considerable resources available to students, educators and researchers,” says Nicola Longford, the museum’s executive director. “The Reading Room presents an excellent opportunity to showcase and expand our collections.”

The scope of the project also includes the Media Room, a renovation of the southeast corner meeting space in the former Depository. The Media Room will serve a double function as the space will be shared with Dallas County employees. The renovated space will serve as both a meeting/conference room and, thanks to new appropriate lighting and improved acoustical performance, as a permanent place to continue the Museum's Oral Histories project.

The Reading Room is scheduled to open in November 2009.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite, Dead at 92

by BRIAN STELTER / New York Times

Walter Cronkite, an iconic CBS News journalist who defined the role of anchorman for a generation of television viewers, died Friday at the age of 92, his family said.

“My father Walter Cronkite died,” his son Chip said just before 8 p.m. Eastern. CBS interrupted prime time programming to show an obituary for the man who defined the network’s news division for decades.

Mr. Cronkite’s family said last month that he was seriously ill with cerebrovascular disease.

Mr. Cronkite anchored the “CBS Evening News” from 1962 to 1981, at a time when television became the dominant medium of the United States. He figuratively held the hand of the American public during the civil rights movement, the space race, the Vietnam war, and the impeachment of Richard Nixon. During his tenure, network newscasts were expanded to 30 minutes from 15.

“It is impossible to imagine CBS News, journalism or indeed America without Walter Cronkite,” Sean McManus, the president of CBS News, said in a statement. “More than just the best and most trusted anchor in history, he guided America through our crises, tragedies and also our victories and greatest moments.”

Mr. McManus added: “No matter what the news event was, Walter was always the consummate professional with an un-paralleled sense of compassion, integrity, humanity, warmth, and occasionally even humor. There will never be another figure in American history who will hold the position Walter held in our minds, our hearts and on the television. We were blessed to have this man in our lives and words cannot describe how much he will be missed by those of us at CBS News and by all of America.”

Mike Wallace, the “60 Minutes” correspondent emeritus, said simply in a statement, “We were proud to work with him — for him — we loved him.”

Reassurance was Mr. Cronkite’s stock in trade, the ability to convince viewers that when he was on the air all would turn out well.

In a review of Mr. Cronkite’s autobiography in 1997, the former New York Times columnist Tom Wicker wrote:

When John F. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas in 1963, Walter Cronkite stayed on the air for the Columbia Broadcasting System for countless hours. His performance that weekend helped pull together a nation stricken with grief and was a signal event in television’s evolution into the national nervous system.

When Mr. Cronkite came back from Vietnam after the Tet offensive of 1968, he concluded on national television that the war had become no better than a stalemate. Hearing that, President Lyndon Johnson told associates, ”If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” And he had. When Mr. Cronkite asked Robert Kennedy, then a senator from New York, whether he would run for President in 1968, Kennedy turned the tables: he proposed that Mr. Cronkite should run for the Senate. Mr. Cronkite refused, but the idea reflected polls showing that a journalist — a television journalist at that — had become the most trusted man in America.

For his exhaustive and enthusiastic coverage of NASA, Mr. Cronkite was sometimes called “the eighth astronaut.” During the first moon landing in 1969, Mr. Cronkite “was on the air for 27 of the 30 hours that Apollo 11 took to complete its mission,” The Museum of Broadcast Communications notes.

Source: New York Times