I’ve often said that truth can’t necessarily be seen, but, like a black hole, we can know what it is by how it affects everything around it. This is the best way for me to express my feelings about the passing of Mr. Dick Gregory.
From researcher, playwright and friend, Joseph Green on his stellar blog Dissenting Views: Dick Gregory RIP.
From author, scholar, screenwriter, researcher, friend and mentor, Joseph McBride: Obit for Dick Gregory. Joe posted the below statement (italics) in response to the Washington Post obit of Dick Gregory:
“Predictably, the CIA organ Washington Post slurs Dick Gregory as a “conspiracy theorist” for believing the Agency helped run cocaine into the US, which the CIA’s own Inspector General’s report confirmed. And the Post also predictably ignores one of Gregory’s major contributions to this country, his work in investigating and lecturing and writing on the JFK and King assassinations. The Post ought to be ashamed of itself.”
I had the honor of meeting and filming Dick Gregory at the Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA) Dallas Conference years ago. He was kind and accessible, and he wrapped up the conference with quiet words of hope, strength and dignity. (Video to be linked when I return to my office.) I’ll let him wrap up this post himself.
I first became aware of Jim Marrs back in December of 1991 when, during the opening credits of Oliver Stone’s JFK, a title card appeared that said “based on Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy, by Jim Marrs”. The next day I bought a copy. While Mark Lane’s Rush To Judgement was the first book I read about the assassination of JFK, Crossfire was my introduction to the world of the hard, cold facts of serious JFK research. What impressed me most wasn’t just the sheer amount of information contained therein, but the method by which Marrs evaluated the info. Jim always referred to himself as “an old Texas reporter”, and he approached all of his research as a journalist reporting facts and offering the best evaluation of the event based on those facts.
I had a professor in college who was world-renowned in his field. The most important notion I took from his course was that the path to the truth is paved with the stones of being wrong. With Jim, I honestly believe that as a scholar, the only thing Jim liked more than being right was being proven wrong. That’s a critical part of good and honest research, and that’s why his work has such staying power, and was always fresh and relevant.
Another thing I respected about Jim was how he was one of the few researchers who never got caught up in the intra-community squabbles. He would speak to any group, any time. One reason for this is that he was always in search of the truth, and to get caught up in that noise was counter–productive to the goal. He also recognized that there are forces who do not want the public to know the truth, and that the best way to stop a group is to divide them, and he wasn’t going to be part of that.
For me, though, I will remember Jim from the day I spent with him at his home in Wise County, Texas, what he called his “ranchita, cuz it’s not big enough to be a ranch!” After our interview he took us on a walk around his property with his golden lab, Lady, threw the ball for her, and just talked about life out in the Texas wilds. He took us to an open area on a bluff where you could see for miles around. He talked about how this was reality and how critical it was for everyone, especially those in the research community, to maintain their connection to the land, to each other, and if possible, to their dogs.
Jim was one of a kind. Like so many others in the research community who have passed, we’ll never see the likes of him again. But we should all take Jim’s lead and approach our research, new facts as they’re released and, most of all, each other with the utmost care and respect. And to ignore the noise so that we always stay focused on revealing the truth of our hidden history.
In our interview, Jim wrapped up with a line that’s much quoted but he delivered it with his quintessential north-Texas twang: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”.
Last night I received the news that longtime barrister, former NY state legislator, former candidate for Vice President of the United States, civil-rights lawyer and, in regards to the subjects of my film, The Searchers, one of the very first to publicly question the government’s theory of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Who was Mark Lane? I think the best answer was written by Robert K. Tanenbaum, a former NYC Assistant District Attorney and Counsel for congress’ investigation into the assassination of JFK in the 1970’s. (The investigation determined that there was a “probable conspiracy” in the murders of JFK and MLK. But that’s another story.)
A few years ago I wrote an article for a local newspaper to which I added two sidebars which included Lane.
I had the pleasure to interview Lane in his home in Charlottesville. A great day with a very gracious host.
When asked by people what to read, one of the first books I send them to is his 1964 Rush To Judgement. When asked about a film? I send them to the companion film of the same name, directed by the great Emile de Antonio. Watch it here:
In October of 2013, I arranged a screening of Rush To Judgement at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, where I teach film and video.
As part of the night’s event, I brought in via the internet Lane and Rush… cinematographer, Robert Primes. Watch the video here:
Perhaps my personal favorite book by Lane is his final work, Last Word: My Indictment of the CIA in the Murder of JFK (Last Word (2012))
At the end of Last Word, Lane included an Open Letter to President Obama. It’s worth a read:
President of the United States
The White House
August 17, 2011
Dear Mr. President:
In my most recent book I have published the words of President Truman
written one month after the assassination of President Kennedy. He
stated that the Central Intelligence Agency, which he had organized as
an intelligence-gathering vehicle had become operational and policy
making and had therefore imperiled the functioning of our democracy. He
asked that it be reformed. At the time of President Kennedy’s death the
CIA had been actively involved in one war; it is presently active in
However, I wish to bring to your attention its fourth, less heralded
war, the CIA’s effort to limit the First Amendment rights of authors to
write and our people to read views that differ from the orthodox CIA
analysis of important matters. The CIA has its own website and presents
its positions there. In addition, from the shadows, using its covert
assets in the news media throughout the nation and overseas, it has
prevented books from being published and has instructed feature writers
and book reviewers what to write about books it does not favor. In Last
Word I have published those explicit, and previously top secret, CIA
documents that I retrieved through actions in the United States District
Court for the District of Columbia under the Freedom of Information Act.
Perhaps the enormity of the CIA efforts was best summarized by David
Atlee Phillips who served as chief of all operations for the CIA in the
Western Hemisphere with a rank of GS18, the highest rank in the CIA not
requiring executive appointment.
He publicly stated at a conference at the University of Southern
California, “I regret the attempts by the CIA to destroy Mr. Lane.” But
the efforts of the CIA were not focused entirely upon me as other
authors offering dissenting views were also targeted.
In my view and perhaps in yours as well, the First Amendment remains
the single most important sentence in the documents that founded this
democracy. Organizations acting in secrecy to traduce its teachings are
a threat to what we believe in.
The CIA is an executive agency, and I request that you instruct that
agency to cease and desist from its ongoing efforts to interfere with
the rights of Americans in America to write and to read. It is well
beyond their charter, but above all it is subversive of all we stand
for. I also request that you direct the Attorney General, a man for whom
I also have the greatest respect, to monitor and enforce that order. We
are entitled to transparency in government, and if I am asked if I think
we can achieve that I would reply, “Yes, we can.”
I’ll let Mark Lane have the last word. RIP, sir. RIP.
Really interesting listen. Great work from the folks at 365!
In publisher, poet and billionaire Felix Dennis’ mag, Mental Floss, to which I subscribe and generally think is a cool read, appeared an article entitled, “9 People Who Killed JFK, According to Conspiracy Theorists”.
Probably a semi-interesting read for someone who doesn’t know much about the subject. However, lists like this just help perpetuate classic stereotypes. Respected indie researchers are never included in these lists. For example, Waldron is seen as a kind of a joke in the critical community, as is Roger Stone who repeats long discredited but titillating theories, as well as Menninger, whose “theories” are easily refuted, i.e. the many photographs and films taken in Dealey Plaza that day. I’ve been researching the researchers now for 13 years and have never heard of Pecepa, Ghent or Nolan, and have certainly never seen them at any of the conferences I’ve filmed over the years. Aliens and Joe DiMaggio? C’mon, man, no need to be an asshole.