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:
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.
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.
While those in the research community are open to many uncomfortable truths behind our country’s hidden history, primarily political assassinations, most mainstream academics and historians patently reject conspiracy in the assassinations of the ’60s, especially the killing of JFK.
However, recently a couple of friends who are respected academics – one a dean at a small liberal arts college and the other a chair at a major private university – read mainstream historian Robert Caro’s series of in-depth biographies of LBJ. They both came away fully believing that LBJ was capable of all of the crimes and murders attributed to him over the years, especially the possible complicity – either explicit or tacit – in the assassination of JFK.
Since 1963, the subjects of my film – researchers of political assassinations – have known all of the facts expressed in mainstream histories of those events, and have included those facts in publication after publication over the years. Regarding LBJ, the 1964 book, A Texan Looks At Lyndon: A Study in Illegitimate Power, by J. Evetts Haley, revealed every single fact about LBJ that Caro used. But Haley was an average citizen, not a mainstream academic like Caro. Independent researchers like Haley have suffered ridicule and have been pushed to the intellectual margins of American society; that should be unacceptable to each and every one of us.
My larger point should be clear: mainstream academics accept facts of only fellow mainstream academics, and mainstream media only accepts agreed upon facts by other mainstream media sources. We’ve seen this over and over again. Why do we rely on publications like the NY Times, the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal as final arbiters of accepted thought? Why don’t we trust research methods over blind institutional acceptance? I fear that until we consumers of information re-evaluate the sources upon which we rely to interpret our collective history, we are doomed to repeat it.
A New Year’s message from the late John Judge, co-founder & former director of COPA.
Every June 10th at 12:00 noon, the Coalition on Political Assassinations has held a commemoration of John F. Kennedy’s American University address, also known as his “Peace Speech“, at Peace Speech Memorial on the campus of American U. First held in 1999 by COPA co-founders John Judge and Bill Kelly, and longtime COPA board member, T Carter, a small collection of seasoned researchers and interested citizens, led by COPA Director John Judge, have gathered annually to honor JFK and reflect on his vision for peace, which was delivered less than 6 months before his assassination.
I’m sure all are now aware of the recent passing of John. A devastating loss not only to his friends, but to the research community as well. While no one can possibly replace John, we friends and supporters of COPA felt passionate that John’s commemoration of JFK’s speech should continue. This year, however, we would also be honoring John, and his life spent fighting for the same vision of peace expressed in JFK’s speech.
On June 10, 2014, I was honored to lead COPA’s 16th “And We Are All Mortal…” Annual Commemoration of JFK’s American University Peace Speech. Joining me was Deborah Cunningham, Pat Simon, Assassination Archives and Research Center (ARRC) Founder & President Jim Lesar, AARC Director Jerry Policoff, Karl Golovin and Chris Hager. The morning was sunny and warm, a typical beautiful DC summer day. But as the time got closer to 12 noon, the skies slowly grew darker and darker. At 12:00, the sky opened up, and we were caught in a downpour. It’s as if the gods saw us standing there at the memorial and chose to test our mettle and dedication. Once the rain started, I couldn’t help think of something John said to me in Dallas last November at the 50th: It was a rainy and bitterly cold day. We were all miserable. As my freezing fingers were fumbling with my camera, John walked up and told the story about how JFK’s press corps had a joke that wherever JFK went, the weather was always beautiful. The press corps would say, “It’s a Kennedy day”! John looked around at everyone, cold and wet, and said, “this is no Kennedy day”.
That day at American was no Kennedy day, either.
Instead of attempting to give the commemoration myself, I instead played the audio from John’s presentation in 2003. Infinitely better than anything I could have possibly come up with.
I wrapped up our commemoration 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, The Searchers: “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.”
On May 31, 2014, a Celebration of Life for John Judge was held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Speaking first, among the featured speakers, was Dennis Kucinich. The celebration was organized by John’s longtime life partner Marilyn Tenenoff, the love of his life.