Mark Lane: RIP to an Original Searcher
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:
Hon. Barack Obama
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.