And We Are All Mortal: It’s Up to You

The following is the speech I was due to deliver at the 2019 JFK Assassination Conference Dallas Speaker’s Banquet. Unfortunately, my speech didn’t happen.

Good evening.

The honor I feel today standing in front of you, the community of political assassination researchers is second only to being part of the community. Thank you, Judyth, for the kind invitation to speak at this years’ speaker’s banquet. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the director of The Searchers, an instructor of film & video at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and a proud board member of the Center for Deep Political Research. 

At the conclusion of Oliver Stone’s 1991 film, JFK, the character of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, played by Oscar winner, Kevin Costner, delivers the final summation in the trial of accused conspirator Clay Shaw.  At the end of the incredible eight minute long monologue, Costner breaks the fourth wall and settles his gaze directly into the camera and upon the audience. At each of us. He then states, profoundly, simply, directly, “It’s up to you.”  While that moment set me upon my journey into the world of the JFK assassination researcher, it would be a quarter century until I fully understood the true meaning of that line.

Over the next decade, I devoured every video and book that I could relating to the assassination. It was only in 2001 that I decided it was time to test the waters of the greater research community. Scouring the internet revealed that there was a conference in Dallas entitled, November in Dallas, put on by JFK Lancer Publications and Productions. I purchased a ticket immediately. It was held in a grand ballroom of an upscale hotel out of my price range, so I stayed in a 2-star flea bag not far from the Trade Mart. It was actually a terrific entry for someone like me, a guy who knew he didn’t know anything but wanted to learn. I found the speakers and their presentations to be extremely interesting and I took notes voraciously. It was the JFK impersonator reciting part of Kennedy’s inauguration speech that revealed this to be less of a conference and more of a convention. Fine for some, a bit disappointing for me.

Lucky for me that I was approached by one of the attendees, a woman who obviously knew everyone: fellow attendees, organizers, witnesses and speakers. She asked if this was my first assassination trip to Dallas, then asked if I was going to the “other conference”.  I responded with a blank stare to which she suggested I go across town to check out the real conference: “It’s a lot smaller and less commercial”. 

This was my first taste of the intra-community divide.

I jumped into my rental car and sped to the old Hotel Lawrence – now depressingly a La Quinta Inn –  just a block from Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas. Crammed into tiny second floor meeting room was the annual regional meeting of COPA – the Coalition on Political Assassinations. Around thirty mostly bespeckled and middle aged guys listened raptured to a Santa-meets-Malcolm X character, longtime executive director and co-founder of COPA, John Patrick Judge. This, I thought, was the real, academic community I had been hoping to find. And it was at that moment that I decided to embark upon what was to become a fourteen year journey making my film, The Searchers.  

John was not only the central character of my film, but he became my research mentor and, most of all, my friend.  I do find it beyond satisfying that Judyth and John were able to come together as co-workers towards the truth before he died. John could be a stubborn guy, so that’s most likely in no small part to Judyth’s commitment to making that happen. 

As a non-fiction filmmaker one of the pillars of the philosophy of our work is to always maintain a separation between yourself and your subject and the participants of your film. One of my proudest achievements is that I threw that out of the window and not only broke the wall between myself and the research community but I became a researcher myself. I truly believe that in this case, that is the only way to honestly portray what the role of a researcher is in our democracy but also what the community have faced over the last 56 years.

What struck me early on was the political and philosophical diversity of the research community.  You’d find the most right wing conservative sitting next to the most left wing liberal, both working together for the truth behind the murder of our president. How in the hell, I thought, was it possible that people who couldn’t agree on an ice cream flavor could agree on this complicated and confusing area of study. Researcher Walt Brown, author of the People vs. Lee Harvey Oswald, answered that when I interviewed him in the late oughts. “If someone were to have told me on November 22nd, 1963 that a vast majority of my best friends are my friends because of that day, I would’ve said ‘you’re crazy’. We’re a family.” After a few seconds, Brown continued with the caveat: “but we might do as families sometimes do.”

During my relatively short time as part of the community, there have been conferences held by a number of different, sometimes competing, organizations: the Coalition on Political Assassinations, JFK Lancer, Dealey Plaza U.K., the Conspiracy Museum, the JFK Assassination Information Center, the Assassination Archives & Research Center, the JFK Historical Group, JFK: The Continuing Inquiry, Citizens Against Political Assassinations as well as us here at this stellar JFK Dallas Conference. And while it’s tough enough for the community to come together for a weekend in Dallas every November, one not need to spend much time on social media to see the growing divide among the diaspora of researchers. Facebook alone contains dozens upon dozens of groups dedicated to the assassination and a cursory glance at the comments in those groups reveals a deep mistrust between many researchers. This isn’t new, it’s now just faster and the relative anonymity makes criticism more intense, more personal, and more destructive. 

As some of you know, I served for a short period of time on the board of CAPA – Citizens Against Political Assassinations – of which the very distinguished Dr. Cyril Wecht served as the chair. When Lancer Publications and Productions chose to transfer their November in Dallas to CAPA, I saw the perfect opportunity for what I hoped to be a grand unification of the research community, the first such conference since the ASK conferences of the early ‘90s. My email read, 

Hello board,

I’ve been thinking a lot about our proposed conference this coming November in Dallas.

As you know, the majority of my work over the last 15 years has been researching the research community. I’m as familiar as anyone with the divisions within the community, the history of those divisions as well as those that have bridged those divisions – Cyril chief among them. Now that Lancer has relinquished control over their conference, we have the unique opportunity to bring the community together in November for the first time since the ASK conferences of the early ’90s.

I think it would be a huge mistake and a missed opportunity to not at least consider this option, and to reach out to Judyth about creating the first unified Dallas conference in over a quarter century. Keeping the mindset of competing with other conferences simply continues the intra-community divide.

 CAPA’s response was crystal clear: 

There is no way to do a joint program. If we do, we will lose the Lancer crowd. 

Now, I’m not a pollyanna about this sort of thing. I don’t think all of the differences within our community would be solved if overnight we chose to come together to sing “kumbaya”, but if would have at least allowed for all of us to be together, in a shared space. Ultimately, these conferences about about the speakers or the organizers or even, disappointingly, the AV crew, it’s about YOU, the attendees. You’re the ones who are yearning for the community. You’re the ones who will take this rejuvenated enthusiasm back to your own research. You’re the ones who will help spread the word of the new research. You’re the ones who will vote and keep up what I call God’s work.  This is how change works. And this is why CAPA’s out-of-hand dismissal of my recommendation was so profoundly disappointing. I resigned from the board not long after that, not necessarily because of that, but it was certainly one of the major straws on the camel’s back. That is also one of the reasons that I’m at this conference, because long ago Judyth lamented that intra-community split at the conferences here in Dallas, and I truly believe that what she truly wants, ultimately, is for us all to work together as a community. 

I also find it increasingly depressing and profoundly distressing to see the right/left political paradigm enter our intra-community debate. We need to remember that our research is ultimately about power, not politics. To wit, the most – and best – work done on the Reagan assassination attempt was not by a researcher on the right, but by the most liberal person I’ve ever known: the aforementioned John Judge. He’s the one who interviewed the George Washington Hospital emergency room doctors, he’s the one who secured the route of the presidential limo as well as emergency vehicles, he’s the one who studied the photographic evidence and located the second gun. In fact, he’s the one who coined the term, “the Bushy knoll.”  Why did he give a damn about a conservative president? Because he recognized from the very beginning that the removal of a president is about much more than party, it’s about the machinations of power and, ultimately, the health of our democracy.

And we are all mortal.

Those were the words delivered by John Kennedy in his commencement address at American University on June 10th, 1963, less than 5 months before his murder. Known as the Peace Speech, many researchers, myself and John Judge among them, believed that speech to be the final nail in JFK’s coffin. 

Beginning in 1999, John Judge held a commemoration of the speech every June 10th on the campus of American U at the Peace Speech Memorial. Most of the time it was just John and a few other interested citizens. John passed away on April 15th, 2014. A devastating loss not only to his friends, but to the research community as well.  John proved his mortality, and while no one can possibly replace John, we friends and supporters felt passionate that John’s commemoration of JFK’s speech should continue. I’ve continued the commemoration on the campus of American U every year since John’s death. Most years I’m literally the only person standing there. Like some weirdo blabbering into the wind, I still go through the entire presentation. For me, it’s not only to commemorate JFK’s vision of peace, but to honor John’s pursuit of the fulfillment of that vision.   I wrap it up with the following: 

It’s telling that we’re standing here on the campus of an elite university in the nation’s capital, and who’s here? Just us. No students, no politicians, no press, and, most telling, no historians. John addressed this perfectly in footage I use in the opening of my film:  “What died on November 22, 1963, was more than just a president. Truth was killed. Hope was killed. And a government that responded to popular movements was killed. But we in the US are what’s left of democracy in the world. We have more potential of any country to make democracy work. We have a strength that the powers in this country are afraid of. But if you want a democracy you have to make it a democracy. And the first step is to take back your history.

There have always been divisions within the research community since the day of the assassination. There are profound differences and divisions within any academic pursuit. Just come to my department at Duke to see that in action. But John understood that there were much larger and powerful forces working to sew divisions. Much of this can be found in cointel-pro documents right there in the National Archives.  

In the face of such forces that want to divide us, the one thing we can’t allow to split our family are our political and philosophical differences. Let’s remember John’s work on the Reagan assassination attempt. 

We must remain dedicated to working together for the truth behind the assassination, wherever that truth lies. 

We must avoid the pull of the right/left paradigm. 

We must hold all political leaders accountable for the release of the documents, especially now that all of the documents have reached the threshold for full and unredacted release.

We must recognize the true machinations of what Peter Dale Scott identified as “deep politics”, and avoid the pull of transient politicians co-opting the term “deep state” while not knowing what the hell that term really means. 


We must remember that, as Walt Brown also stated, “[11/22/63] is the glue that holds us together.” 

At the end of my film, John Judge states, “We have all the potential in the world and all the tools that we need. To envision what’s right, that’s the job of every generation. Even if we don’t think we’ll win, we must try, and by pulling together our energies and resources we – the research community – can change the world.”

In the end, if we allow our family to become divided, all is lost.

It’s up to you.

Thank you.

Dig Deeper: Read Listen Watch


Links of Interest (Thanks to Len Osanic)
Judge for Yourself
The Essential Mae Brussell Reader
Forgive My Grief
A Texan Looks At LyndonSearchers - Read Listen Watch
History Will Not Absolve Us
The Deep State in the Heart of Texas
False Mystery
Rush to Judgement
Six Second in Dallas
Into The Nightmare
Accessories After the Fact
JFK and the Unspeakable
JFK: The Book of the Film
On the Trail of the Assassins
Praise from a Future Generation
Deep Politics and the Death of JFK
Last Word
The Assassinations
Dissenting View
Secret and Suppressed
Destiny Betrayed
Breach of Trust
The Echo from Dealey Plaza
The People vs. Lee Harvey Oswald
Harvey & Lee
The Last Investigation
The Killing of a President
Trauma Room One
High Treason
Best Evidence
Conspiracy Theory in America
The Devil’s Chessboard


Black Op Radio
Midnight Writer News
World Watchers: The Mae Brussell Archive
The Ochelli Effect
Night Fright with Brent Holland
Shadow Citizen


The Searchers (Shameless Plug)
50 Reasons for 50 Years
Postscript 1968
The Abraham Zapruder Film
The Films of Dealey Plaza November 22, 1963
The Plot to Kill JFK: Rush to Judgement
The Men Who Killed Kennedy
Evidence of Revision
The American Media and the Second Assassination of JFK
The Murder of JFK: A Revisionist History
The Innocence of Oswald
Killing Oswald
The JFK Assassination: The Jim Garrison Tapes
Virtual JFK
The Assassination & Mrs. Paine

Seven Days in May
Executive Action
Thirteen Days
The Manchurian Candidate
Kill The Messenger
3 Days of the Condor
The Parallax View
The Conversation
Blow Out

Searcher Jim DiEugenio’s Excellent Reply to Truthdig’s JFK Hit Piece.

Here is the Truthdig piece by Paul Smart.


Tuesday, 06 February 2018 22:41

Paul Street meets Jane Hamsher at Arlington

Written by 

Jim DiEugenio responds to a recent hit piece which uses Joe Kennedy III’s State of the Union reply as a platform from which to launch yet another doctrinaire and uninformed attack on JFK and RFK, claiming that the latter’s grandson is just another “false progressive idol” like his great uncle.

About a decade ago I fell out of love with the liberal blogosphere. Prior to that time, I had read many of their sites assiduously, e.g., Think ProgressDaily KosFiredoglake and so on and so forth. Then, in December of 2008, I came across a rather mindless attack by Jane Hamsher at her Firedoglake site on Caroline Kennedy. That irresponsible and jejune jeremiad was picked up by Markos Moulitsas at Daily Kos. It was about whether or not JFK’s daughter was fit to serve in the Senate seat that Hillary Clinton was going to leave to become Secretary of State under President Obama.

I was taken aback by the lack of any historical perspective, by the fundamental errors, and—there is no way around it—the deliberate distortion of the record. I decided to reply, and my reply ended up evolving into a three part series. This was the beginning of the end of my romance with the so-called “liberal blogosphere”. Later on, someone who worked for one of those sites read my series and confirmed all of my fears about what it had become. When I mentioned in my series the hopes some had for a revival of the likes of Art Kunkin and LA Free Press and Warren Hinckle’s Ramparts, he said, “Art Kunkin? You are dreaming my friend.” He then added words to the effect that: These people fell into this field. They don’t understand at all what real journalism is, let alone investigative reporting and research. And, what is worse, they are not interested in learning about it.

Evidently my series did not have much of an impact, because someone named Paul Street has now repeated the hit piece begun by Hamsher and Moulitsas. Street writes for journals like Z Magazineand Counterpunch, former homes to the likes of Noam Chomsky and the late Alex Cockburn. They are part of what I call the doctrinaire Left that has done so much to lead so many good-hearted people astray in both history and politics.

What is the occasion of Street picking up the cudgel to attack both President Kennedy and, to a lesser extent, Senator Kennedy? Well, it is similar to the occasion that Hamsher embarrassed herself about. Street did not like the fact that the Democratic Party chose Bobby Kennedy’s grandson, Joseph Kennedy III, to counter President Trump’s State of the Union address. As far as I could tell, Street did not mention anything that Congressman Kennedy said in his speech. Nor did he point to his attacks on Trump’s tax plan, or the Affordable Care Act, both of which were vigorous and effective. So, right at the start, we know that Street is going to be playing the usual shell game in his screed. This consists of distorting the adduced record, leaving key points out, and relying on folklore and not scholarship to jimmy together another cheap smear job.

This gaming begins with the title: “Joe Kennedy III, Just Another False Progressive Idol, like JFK”. So from the outset, Street has no equivocations about what he is about to say, even though almost none of his essay is footnoted. Like many before him, he begins with the whole mildewed cliché that JFK has a stellar image today because of his glamorous wife, his charisma, and his two cute kids. Yawn.

If you can believe it, Street begins his assault by referring to a book that is over forty years old, Bruce Miroff’s musty and obsolete Pragmatic Illusions. From here, Street now begins to argue that Kennedy was part of the upper class—what we would call the 1 per centers today—who wanted to perpetuate inequalities and had no interest in altering the “established socioeconomic arrangements.”

How anyone could write something this false and have it published by any kind of journal—whether electronic or print media—is almost beyond imagining today. And why would one use Miroff’s book on the subject and ignore Donald Gibson’s classic volume on Kennedy’s economic policies, Battling Wall Street? Gibson’book was published almost twenty years after Miroff’s and constitutes the most definitive statement in the literature on Kennedy’s economic program. Thus, right off the bat, Street shows us that he is not being honest with the reader; he has an agenda about a kilometer wide. Gibson’s volume was an example of real scholarship. He used documents and reports that had never been discussed in any kind of depth before. And after presenting these materials, reviewing President Kennedy’s showdown with the steel companies, and analyzing the long-term design of his national and international economic plan, he concluded that Kennedy’s economic concept was the most progressive he had seen since Franklin Roosevelt’s.

One of the many valuable things Gibson did was to demonstrate the split between David Rockefeller and President Kennedy (Gibson, pp. 73-74). To anyone who knows anything about the structure of the Power Elite at that time, such a split would not have existed if Kennedy were part of that “one percent” exclusive club, for, as Gibson points out, when Kennedy took office, David Rockefeller had emerged as its leader. (Gibson, p. 73) In an exchange of letters, Rockefeller requested that Kennedy place reins on spending; that he raise interest rates, and also tighten the money supply. As Gibson notes, Kennedy shunted aside each of these requests. Kennedy’s chief economic advisor was Walter Heller, a noted Keynesian. Heller had nothing but derisive scorn for the rising policies of the Austrian School of Economics, soon to be popularly represented by Milton Friedman, who would become the darling of the GOP Eastern Establishment. Further disproving Miroff, both Henry Luce’s Fortune and the Wall Street Journal strongly attacked Kennedy’s expansive and remedial domestic economic policies and programs. (Gibson, pp. 58-67) For instance, in 1962, Kennedy instituted the Manpower Development and Training Act and attempted to pass a Medicare bill. (Irving Bernstein, Promises Kept, pp. 187, 256-57) Questions for Street: How would those programs uphold the status quo? And why doesn’t he mention them?

Kennedy also opposed Rockefeller in his international economic policy, as exemplified by the Alliance for Progress, which extended loans to Latin America from the Treasury Department, thereby bypassing the IMF and Export-Import Bank. In fact, after Kennedy’s death, Rockefeller expressed his relief that Lyndon Johnson had done much to eviscerate this program. (Gibson, p. 84) But further, as Philip Muehlenbeck and Robert Rakove have also pointed out, Kennedy eschewed using military force in the Third World and instead wanted to use aid and loan programs to curry favor with nationalist leaders in these emerging nations, e.g., Sukarno of Indonesia, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. (See, respectively, Muehlenbeck, Betting on the Africans, pp. 73-96, and Rakove, Kennedy, Johnson, and the Nonaligned World, pp. 148-49)

Continuing with his exercise in absurdist theater, Street now goes on to say that, somehow, President Kennedy and his brother Robert were also on the wrong side of the civil rights issue. He even writes that the Kennedy brothers were calculating their moves in this arena by counting how far they could go without losing white votes in the South. Before Mr. Street wrote that, he should have read the opening pages of John Bohrer’s new study of the Attorney General. The Revolution of Robert Kennedy begins with the AG pondering whether or not he should resign his position because he has lost the South for his brother due to his aggressive backing of Martin Luther King’s cause. That was on November 20, 1963. The reason for his quandary was that, from the beginning—when Robert Kennedy was being questioned by Senator James Eastland of Mississippi during his confirmation hearing—Eastland reminded him that his predecessor had never brought a legal action against discrimination or segregation in his state. (Harry Golden, Mr.Kennedy and the Negroes, p. 95) That was true. But in one year it all changed. In that time span, RFK doubled the number of lawyers in the Civil Rights Division, and in 12 months he had more than doubled the amount of cases that President Eisenhower had filed in eight years! By 1963, the number of lawyers in the Civil Rights Division had nearly quintupled. (Golden, p. 105) RFK then hired 18 legal interns to search microfilm records for evidence of discrimination in voting rights; and that led to him opening up 61 more cases.

This was all a part of a preplanned strategy by President Kennedy. In October of 1960, Kennedy had told his civil rights advisory board that this was the legal strategy he planned on using in order to break the back of voting discrimination in the South. (Golden, p. 139) President Kennedy felt that with the Brown vs. Board decision, plus the civil rights acts of 1957 and 1960, his brother would be able to win these court cases and defeat the voting rights problem in the Southern states.

President Kennedy had chosen this path since he understood that he could not get an omnibus bill through Congress because it would be filibustered in the Senate. In fact, when President Kennedy submitted one in 1962, it went nowhere (Robert Kennedy in his Own Words, p. 149, edited by Edwin Guthman and Jeffrey Shulman.) Therefore, as he had been advised by civil rights advisor Harris Wofford, he kept on using administrative actions as far as he could, e.g., the New Orleans Schools case (Guthman, pp. 80-82), the integration of interstate busing through the ICC (Guthman, p. 100), the integration of higher education at Ole Miss and the University of Alabama, the formation of the 1961 Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, the Fair Housing Act of 1962, and the industry agreements to hire minorities involving all federal contracting (Golden pp. 60-61). There were many more, all of which Street is either ignorant of, or deliberately ignores in order to complete his hatchet job.

In conjunction with the legal proceedings, what these unprecedented administrative actions did was to inspire African American groups and individuals to heights they had not scaled before. James Meredith applied to go to the University of Mississippi the day after Kennedy’s inauguration. (Bernstein, p. 76) As can be seen on the DVD of the film Crisis, Vivian Malone defied George Wallace in Tuscaloosa because she trusted the Kennedys to protect her, which is what RFK did by assembling over 3,000 federal troops against Wallace’s 845 state troops. All of this, and much more, gave the leaders of the civil rights movement more ballast and backing.

It culminated in Birmingham. It was there where Governor Wallace and Police Commissioner Bull Connor overplayed their hand. The ugly images of fire hoses and barking dogs repelled Americans outside of the South, and even many in the South. Dick Gregory was on the scene. One night he left Alabama to fly home. When he got there, his wife told him that President Kennedy called and said he wanted him to phone the White House. Gregory said, “But it’s midnight.” She replied, “He said it didn’t matter what time it was.” Gregory called the White House. Kennedy picked up the phone. He told the comedian, “I need to know everything that went on, even the stuff not on TV.” Gregory spoke for about ten minutes. After he was done, Kennedy said, “Good. We’ve got those bastards now.” Gregory started to weep. (Author interview with Gregory on the Joe Madison Show in 2003)

It was things like that, and the public face-off with Wallace, that allowed Kennedy the leverage to make his epochal civil rights speech to the nation in June of 1963. That speech is commonly referred to as the greatest presidential oration on civil rights since Lincoln. A month later he became the first white Washington politician to endorse King’s March on Washington, which occurred that August. (Bernstein, p. 114) This was the beginning of the passage of the two bills that guaranteed both civil rights and voting rights for African-Americans throughout America. It is why King, in 1968, told his advisors they would back RFK over Gene McCarthy. (Martin Luther King: The FBI File, edited by Michael Friedly and David Gallen, p. 572) I will take King’s judgment over Street’s any day of the week.

But, Street actually outdoes himself when he begins to address President Kennedy’s foreign policy, ignoring the fact that the day before Kennedy made his civil rights speech, the president delivered his famous Peace Speech at American University. In the face of that address, Street can actually call Kennedy’s foreign policy record “militantly imperial and militarist.” He ignores not just Sukarno, who Kennedy backed to the end of his life, but also Patrice Lumumba, who the CIA helped to get rid of before JFK was inaugurated because they knew once he was in the Oval Office Kennedy would try to restore Lumumba to power. (James DIEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, Second Edition, p. 29) Street also ignores the new work by Australian Greg Poulgrain, who has broken new ground with his discoveries about the informal alliance between Kennedy and UN Chairman Dag Hammarskjold over Congo and Indonesia, one that Kennedy continued by himself after Hammarskjold was murdered. (See Poulgrain, The Incubus of Intervention, pp. 71-83)

Street writes that somehow Kennedy was involved in the planning of the coup to overthrow President Goulart in Brazil. As A. J. Langguth wrote, the group behind the coup was called the Business Group for Latin America. It was headed by David Rockefeller. As we have seen, and as Donald Gibson has demonstrated, Rockefeller was not on good terms with President Kennedy. In fact, he had been given the cold shoulder by JFK for three years. But once Kennedy was killed, this all changed. With President Johnson in the White House and his new assistant on Latin America Thomas Mann in charge, Rockefeller and his group were now warmly received. (Langguth, Hidden Terrors, p. 104) Within a few months, a CIA operation, which Warren Commissioner John McCloy was part of, was aimed at Brazil. It was codenamed Brother Sam and this overthrow, plus Johnson’s 1965 invasion of the Dominican Republic, essentially spelled the beginning of the end of the Alliance for Progress. (Kai Bird, The Chairman, pp. 551-53; Gibson, pp. 78,79)

In keeping with his utter ignorance of the declassified record, Street now turns to Cuba and Vietnam. He repeats the mantra that somehow the Kennedy White House was behind the plots to kill Castro. This was discredited with the declassification of the CIA’s Inspector General report in the nineties. There, the Agency admitted that there was no plausible deniability for them on this issue. But as William Davy has further discovered, when the Church Committee interviewed the co-author of that IG report, he admitted the same thing. He then went further and said the CIA had deliberately deceived Robert Kennedy about the plots being terminated. (Church Committee interview with Scott Breckinridge, June 2, 1975, pp. 30-33, 49)

On Indochina, Street now says that somehow there is still a debate going on over whether or not Kennedy was going to withdraw troops from South Vietnam. Again, this completely discounts the declassified record, either out of pure ignorance or by purposeful design. The record of the SecDef meeting in May of 1963 was probably the single most important declassified document released by the Assassination Records Review Board. That document shows that Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had ordered all State Department, CIA officers, and Defense Department employees from Vietnam to show up in Hawaii with withdrawal plans in hand. When McNamara read the plans, he said the schedules were not fast enough and had to be hastened. (DiEugenio, pp. 336-37) This is all in black and white; it is not a Rick Perlstein/Noam Chomsky stunt over language. If Street has not read these records, then a conclusion is necessitated: He should not be writing about the issue, for the simple reasons that he is misinforming his readers and therefore resorting to propaganda. And it is this deliberate approach that allows him to ignore a very simple fact: When Kennedy was killed, there was not one combat troop in Vietnam. By the end of 1965, Lyndon Johnson had inserted 175,000 in theater. By the end of Johnson’s presidency there were over a half million there.

If one can believe it, and by now one can, Street concludes his discussion of JFK’s foreign policy by saying that the kudos Kennedy gets over his leadership of the Missile Crisis is nauseating. Yet he somehow finds room to praise Nikita Khrushchev’s actions instead.

Let us be clear about this: Khrushchev provoked the crisis by secretly moving a first strike force into Cuba. This included all three arms of the nuclear triad: bombers, submarines and ICBMs. All told, there were well over 100 delivery systems in this armada. Enough to knock out every major city in America except those in the Pacific Northwest. (DiEugenio, p. 60) The Russians lied to Kennedy when he wanted to discuss their presence there. They did this knowing he had repeatedly warned Moscow not to do what they had just done. Even after this Soviet subterfuge, and ignoring most of his advisors, Kennedy resorted to the least violent alternative: a blockade. He refused to bomb the missile silos since he felt too many civilians would be killed. And he refused to authorize an invasion even after the Cubans had knocked down an unarmed U2 plane, killing the American pilot. Which was the only fatality of the 13-day crisis. If one reads the transcripts of the tape-recorded discussions, any rational person—which Street is not—would admit that Kennedy was the person who saved Cuba from both a bombing campaign and an armed invasion. And it was his brother who helped defuse the crisis through his secret meetings with undercover KGB agent Georgi Bolshakov and Russian Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. All one has to do to see the difference is to read what almost everyone else was saying toward the end, especially Lyndon Johnson. (The Kennedy Tapes, pp. 590-91, edited by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow) Not just Kennedy’s advisors, but Senators Richard Russell and William Fulbright were also for a full invasion. (DiEugenio, p. 64) By the end, one can safely say that it was John Kennedy who rammed through a deal with Khrushchev: he would get his missiles out of Cuba, we would pledge not to invade the island and get our Jupiter missiles out of Turkey and Italy.

Needless to say, Street makes not one mention of the détente that Kennedy was working on with both Castro and Khrushchev at the time of his assassination. Or the pain that both communist leaders felt about his death once they heard the news. Or that both men also believed that Kennedy had been the victim of a high-level government plot. This is the crazy cul de sac one arrives in following on the heels of Noam Chomsky.

The truth is that Kennedy’s foreign policy—like his plan for civil rights—was largely arranged before he entered the White House. It was germinated on his first trip to Saigon in 1951 and his meeting with State Department official Edmund Gullion. It was later honed and refined until it was eloquently stated in his 1957 speech on the Senate floor attacking Eisenhower’s support for the French colonial war in Algeria. (The Strategy of Peace by Allan Nevins, pp. 66-80) In that speech, Kennedy directly referred to Eisenhower, Nixon and the Dulles brothers as repeating the same mistake they had made three years prior in Vietnam by not negotiating a peaceful way out before the inevitable French defeat at Dien Bien Phu.

Did that tragic episode not teach us that, whether France likes it or not, admits it or not, or had our support or not, their overseas territories are sooner or later, one by one, inevitably going to break free and look with suspicion on the Western nations who impeded their steps to independence?

Kennedy went on to say, “The problem is to save the French nation, as well as free Africa.” If Street can point out any other Washington politician who made these comments in public at this time I would like to read them. As Audrey and George Kahin wrote, in their book Subversion as Foreign Policy, at no time since World War II

… has violence—especially on a militarized level—in the execution of covert American foreign policy been so widespread as during the Eisenhower administration. Especially was this so with respect to US relations with Third World countries … .” (p. 8)

All one needs to do is recall Arbenz in Guatemala, Mossadegh in Iran, the attempted coup against Sukarno, and the murder plots against Lumumba. Kennedy formulated his foreign policy in opposition to this Dulles/Eisenhower/Nixon backdrop. And he specifically said on the eve of the 1960 Democratic convention that he had to win, because if the nominee was Johnson or Stu Symington, it would be a rerun of Foster Dulles or Dean Acheson. (Muehlenbeck, p. 37; I should note that Kennedy was correct about Johnson, as exhibited in Vietnam, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Greece.) As George Ball said, Kennedy’s policies stated that if we did not encourage nascent nationalism, then America would be perceived as part of the imperial status quo and we would lose out to the USSR. Therefore, to compete with the Russians we had to side with those promoting change. (Muehlenbeck, p. xiv)

It was these ideas about the Third World which stopped Kennedy from bailing out the CIA’s failed Bay of Pigs invasion, prohibited him from admitting combat troops into Vietnam, and prevented him from bombing the missile sites in Cuba during the October, 1962 crisis. This gestalt concept is easy to understand if one studies Kennedy’s career. And I have been at pains to elucidate these distinctions on more than one occasion. The last time I did so, I pointed out how Kennedy’s ideas were opposed to the stated objectives of the Council on Foreign Relations, proving once more that Mr. Street is flat wrong about Kennedy being part of the Eastern Establishment.

As I wrote, the occasion for this leap into the abyss is Street’s outrage over Joseph Kennedy’s speech answering Trump. He is about as reliable and honest on the younger Kennedy as he is on JFK and RFK. For example, he writes that the congressman is against single payer health care. Not true. And he does not link to his speeches on Trump Care or Trump’s tax plan.

As I noted at the start, I left the liberal blogosphere a decade ago. From reading Street, I made the right choice.



50 Reasons for 50 Years: Where To Start JFK Research

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One thing of which I’m extremely proud is the fact that my film, The Searchers, serves as a bit of a safe entry point for the layperson to the world of JFK assassination research.  It shouldn’t be surprising that the first question I get is “Who did it?”.  If there’s a second question, however, it’s almost always, “Is there a book or site or video I should check out?”.

My serious interest in the JFK case began at the same place for most of the current generation of researchers: Oliver Stone’s JFK.  Consequently, my serious research began with one of the books on which Stone based the movie: Crossfire by Jim Marrs.  I felt it was a great primer for the major points in the case, and, as someone who actually reads book indices and references, Crossfire pointed me to the work of many respected researchers.

As I collected interviews, I got in the habit of asking every researcher what information source they’d recommend to someone just starting out.  Almost to a person, the best researchers in the case said, without hesitation, Sylvia Meagher’s excellent Accessories After The Fact.  In recent years, I’ve directed people to JFK and the Unspeakable by Jim Douglass, which is one of the best books on any subject I’ve ever read. Other books such as Mark Lane’s Rush To Judgement, Vincent Salandria’s False Mystery and the entire 26 volume’s of the Warren Report are also highly recommended. However, no book is perfect, and the best way to truly learn about any subject is to seek out as many sources and authors as possible.

This is what makes Black Op Radio’s 50 Reasons for 50 Years video series, produced and hosted by Black Op’s Len Osanic, my number one source for any person interested in the case.   The series consists of fifty short videos – not counting the excellent Episode 1 Introduction, each covering a specific topic, fully referenced, and presented by the foremost research expert on that topic.  What makes this series so important and effective is the brilliant simplicity of each video.  By allowing a viewer to focus on one specific topic for just five minutes at a time, the overall case becomes less intimidating and recalcitrant.  Instead, the series quickly reveals to the viewer that the assassination of our president can be solved by simply asking questions and searching for answers. In other words, to quote the late researcher John Judge, “it’s an empirical question, and by focusing on the facts, we can answer each question”.

Whether you’re a newbie, a seasoned researcher, a history buff, or one of our first generation researchers still fighting the good fight, watch these videos, ask questions and join the search for the answers.

‘The Searchers’ at the Cary Theater — Grover’s Take on Things

The Cary Theater 122 E. Chatham Street, Cary, NC Friday, November 10, 7:00 p.m. one-night showingfollowed by panel discussion and Q&A Ticket Purchases by Phone: 1-800-514-3849 “One of the best films ever done on the case.”— Robert GrodenGroden’s praise for this film is not to be taken lightly, as he is considered perhaps the […]

via ‘The Searchers’ at the Cary Theater — Grover’s Take on Things

Dick Gregory: Titan of Truth 



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.

Remembering Jim Marrs 1943-2017

Jim Marrs interview pic

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!”

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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”.

Oliver Stone George Magazine Interview October 1998

Mark Lane: RIP to an Original Searcher

lane arrest picLast 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:

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A few years ago I wrote an article for a local newspaper to which I added two sidebars which included Lane.

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I had the pleasure to interview Lane in his home in Charlottesville. A great day with a very gracious host.

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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:

Rush to Judgment (1966)

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.

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As part of the night’s event, I brought in via the internet Lane and Rush… cinematographer, Robert Primes.  Watch the video here:

A Discussion with Mark Lane and Robert Primes, Oct 2013

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:

Hon. Barack Obama

President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC
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.”

  Respectfully submitted,
                   Mark Lane

 I’ll let Mark Lane have the last word.  RIP, sir. RIP.

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C’mon, man: Another MSM list of JFK conspiracy theories.

In publisher, poet and billionaire Felix Dennis’ mag, Mental Floss, felix-dennis01to 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.