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John Simkin

Joan Mellen: A Farewell to Justice

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I found the evaluation in this review (posted on amazon.com) consistent with many of my thoughts. The inclusion of inconsistent "facts" only muddies the water, of course.

************************************

I was really looking forward to this book, but find it extremely difficult to read because it is so hard to check the sources for key statements as I go along. Given the over 120 pages of footnotes, one might find that difficult to understand at first, but there are several big problems. One is that the footnotes aren't numbered in the text. One has to count the lines on a page for the info one wants to check the source on, and then go to the back of the book and find the relevant footnotes for that page. Over and over I found no footnote for key info. Then I realized that the pages referred to in the footnote section frequently don't match the pages in the text. For example, Cyril Wecht is discussed on page 308, but the footnote for that section is noted as on line 6 of page 307. This type of problem is repeated over and over and makes for slow and difficult reading if one is bothering to check sources--which I do frequently since there have been so many unreliable sources in the JFK case.

In addition, there isn't enough critical analysis of information from sources which leads to multiple inconsistent statements just left hanging. For example, within a couple of paragraphs Nagell is referred to as having surveilled Oswald, been his manager, and infiltrated his group. Which is it? Are these consistent possibilities? The reader isn't given any help in sorting out the plausible from the implausible, so I'm left feeling more confused than ever about Nagell.

Another problem is the overall thesis--that Oswald was a non-Marxist, US government agent who US gov't operatives chose as the patsy. First, this ignores the evidence (such as in Norman Mailer's book) that Oswald was a Marxist who wanted to move to Cuba. Secondly, why would the conspirators choose someone as the patsy who would lead to themselves? Again, there isn't enough critical analysis here. She cites the puzzle piece indicating that Nagell said that Oswald was offered safe passage to Cuba after the assassination (with no accompanying critical analysis of this). Yet this would seem completely inconsistent with her main thesis that Oswald was a non-Marxist US gov't agent. A possible solution would be that Oswald was approached in a false flag situation--that he was a Marxist who wanted to live in Cuba and those who approached him used that angle, but this refutes much of her main thesis (not the part about Oswald as patsy but the part that he was non-Marxist). Throughout the book inconsistent puzzle pieces such as this are provided, with little analysis, and the footnoting problem makes it extremely difficult for the reader to sort out the issues on his own.

There is some good info in this book, but it is hard to sort out the wheat from the chaff without better footnoting and more analysis. I'm left feeling confused rather than more enlightened.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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There are several errors in "A Farewell to Justice" that are inconsequential in the over-all scheme of things but nevertheless create concern about accuracy in the more important matters.

I am not sure if it is on this thread but the book has the age of Angelo Murgado when he came to the Un ited States with his parents (my source: a conversation with Mr. Murgado's son).

In addition, the book states that Cesar Diosdado was a U.S. Customs Officer from Miami. Most assassination researchers know that Diosdado was from Key West and his most noted activities were in Monroe County (the arrest of the Interpen group in December of 1962 and the arrest of Masferrer and his crew shortly before their proposed invasion of Haiti (in January of 1967 if my memory serves me)). In fact, Diosdado resided on Riviera Drive, only about seven blocks from my current residence (source: my friend, who lived next door to the Diosdados and was the high school buddy of Cesar Diosdadi's son).

Edited by Tim Gratz

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John wrote:

I am afraid people have not made much of Joan's book. A new biography of Jim Garrison was needed but she has done nothing to advance the investigation of the assassination of JFK.

[To Dawn John wrote:]

I think you are being very harsh on Blakey. After all, he did name Marcello as being involved in the JFK assassination.

There seems to be a developing consensus that Marcello (and the Mafia) was a major player in the assassination.

On a different thread I posted that while Marcello was under heavy sedation and under federal guard, he made statements that clearly indicated his involvement in the assassination.

It is interesting that somehow Garrison missed Marcello's involvement. Whether that was deliberate or not we shall probably never know.

This is from the notes by HSCA Mike Ewing of James Garrison's November 8, 1978 interview with three HSCA staff members:

When asked if he believed Marcello was a man capable of

having President Kennedy murdered, Garrison did not

directly answer the question. Garrison stated that he

has "certainly heard" that Marcello may have once been

involved in some kind of criminal activity years ago. He

stated that he has some reason to believe that some of

Marcello's money was obtained through criminal acts many

years ago. Garrison further stated that he has heard of

allegations linking Marcello to organized crime and the

Mafia, but does not know if they are true. He stated

that he has heard over the years that Marcello may be a

man of significant wealth, and may in fact be one of

Louisiana's wealthier citizens. He stated that Marcello

is not active in real estate and is a businessman.

Somehow it did not surprise me that Professor Mellen did not include these remarks in her book. Garrison could not even figure out that Marcello was involved with organized crime, let alone the Kennedy assasination!

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Please, Tim. Garrison did investigate Marcello in connection to the assassination, as documented by the internal NODA memos. This is not an action Garrison would take if he was, as you insinuate but do not state, covering for Marcello. Marcello also didn't even live in New Orleans, something people seem to forget.

Your behavior in relation to this book is very strange. When you had the pre-review copy, I didn't sense that you had any misgivings with it whatsoever. Now that its officially released, you can't stop picking at real and perceived nits.

Edited by Owen Parsons

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Please, Tim. Garrison did investigate Marcello in connection to the assassination, as documented by the internal NODA memos. This is not an action Garrison would take if he was, as you insinuate but do not state, covering for Marcello. Marcello also didn't even live in New Orleans, something people seem to forget.

Your behavior in relation to this book is very strange. When you had the pre-review copy, I didn't sense that you had any misgivings with it whatsoever. Now that its officially released, you can't stop picking at real and percieved nits.

I couldn't agree more, and by the way Tim you are not the only one who has had posts ignored on this subject (Joan Mellen's book, not your "critique" of it,) which is OK because it hasn't even been out that long and many Forum members still haven't read it; my concern is that there is an agenda behind all of the negative comments, which is to trash it so much that nobody will give the book a chance, John Simkin has been very civil regarding his comments, and I am not saying that anybody hasn't been civil, because I don't consider judging people or their intentions to be central to JFK research. I have always had a great deal of respect for the Forum and the integrity of it, which I still do. But the reaction to this book has left me wondering what the hell is going on here. I think the issue of the identity of "Angel" as far as criticism of A Farewell to Justice is a valid one, in fact I think there is a very good chance that John Simkin is right. But that doesent make the book any less credible overall, has there ever been a single book about the JFK Assassination that everyone said didn't contain a single mistake in it? .

Considering that before this book came out she had written books considered cutting edge about

the feminist movement, Japanese cinema, The Battle of Algiers, and biography's about Lillian Hellman & Dashell Hammett, Bob Knight, Marilyn Monroe etc...etc....I can't help but see the same dynamics between reaction to her book and reaction to Jim Garrison. And I sure don't feel like being her apologist. Anybody that wants to spend time bashing Joan Mellen can go right ahead, because I sure as hell won't lose any sleep over it. One thing I've learned in my lifetime, is that if you worry about what people think about you, youre setting yourself up to have a very encumbered existence, I generally have positive feelings about almost everybody on the forum, and even those whom I don't I would not wish them ill. Having said that I don't care what anybody thinks, especially in relation to a book that dared to challenge the status quo in regards to items such as confirming the fact that Oswald was working as an intelligence operative, and that there was definitely conspiritorial designs on Kennedy emanting from the CIA's Dept. of Clandestine Services.

But practically nobody has mentioned that, except in a very generalized way.

The Mob Did it Issue - I hope if no-one pays any atttention to this post they at least read this, because you will LEARN SOMETHING UNDENIABLE. After 43 years of intense research by many, many people some good, some great, some not so great, some gosh-awful. There is a dynamic that has arisen, and that is with some eight different angles to "who killed Kennedy" (God, I can't believe this) LBJ, The Mafia, the Military Industrial Complex, The Cuban's, Right-Wing Extremists, Big-Oil and the FBI or the CIA. The research into the assassination has reached a stage where it has almost become (pardon the analogy) "The JFK Assassination by Numbers Game" take your favorite 'theory/agenda/propoganda' and fit the 'pieces/facts/circumstances' in the 'light/context' most to your liking and Voilla! You have completed your very own "JFK Assassination Snapshot," suitable for framing. I think a large, large percentage of the books research on this subject is sincere, well intentioned and quite good, BUT there are a few books that have been written with no other purpose than to confuse, obfuscate and decieve people, yea the Very thing that people are accusing Joan Mellen of. Give me a break.

The one thing that really irritates me is the "footnote issue." For Pete's sake, that whole subject has been approached by a lot of people who have commented on it as:

A deliberate effort on Joan Mellen's part, to cover up crappy research, or deliberate effort to obfuscate issues central to the assassination; One local Einstein mentioned "she had trouble finding a publisher," Gee if that's true maybe "somebody" decided to wreak havoc with her book at a critical juncture between "the publisher having the final product and the actual printing of the book," But God forbid anybody suggest such a punch in the gut "in that direction." Recently their has been so many comments about the "ludicrousness of the CIA's having been involved in the JFK assassination" and "Jim Garrison protecting Carlos Marcello" that it makes me want to puke. Anybody want to contact G. Robert Blakey and see if they can collaborate on the definitive "Mob Killed JFK Classic," maybe you can get Gerald Posner to write the introduction.

Draw your own conclusions.

Edited by Robert Howard

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Owen wrote:

Your behavior in relation to this book is very strange. When you had the pre-review copy, I didn't sense that you had any misgivings with it whatsoever. Now that its officially released, you can't stop picking at real and percieved [sic] nits.

Owen, as I stated above, I was ethically prohibited from posting on the book until its release date.

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[From another thread]

Robert wrote:

Later, [Mellen] writes....."Beckham was not needed, and so he was consigned to other duties, like the delivery of the maps and diagrams to Lawrence Howard, waiting for him in Dallas."

Yes, Professor Mellen would have us believe that Marcello's attorney, who was in the time period in question helping Marcello beat the immigration charges against him (clearly an intelligent man), would entrust the sensitive assassination plans to some kid who was not a party to the conspiracy.

To call this scenario far-fetched is an under-statement. What prevented Beckham from deciding to go to the authorities? Or why was he not eliminated after the assassination? I just cannot accept the premise that one of the master-minds behind the "crime of the century" would entrust the plans to some kid.

Of course Beckham was involved in the conspiracy, in so far as he was being setup as a backup patsy. Having him deliver the plans can only further implicate him should the need ever arise for a "limited hang-out." Being implicated in this manner can also have a silencing effect, I would think. Beckham was always very cooperative as this group supported him and helped his music career. The significance and purpose of the assignment didn't even become clear to him until after the assassination. I would also note that the material Beckham delivered agrees well with material Ferrie had in his possession. The whole scenario is also supported by the activity in Gill's office after Ferrie was taken into custody.

Why did Beckham not come forward to the authorities? Why was he not eliminated? You answer your first question with the second. Beckham did not tell his HSCA story to the Grand Jury because Fred Chrisman, and later A. Roswell Thompson, had threatened his life. It was only after he learned of Chrisman's death that Beckham really spilled his guts to the HSCA. Stephen Roy/Blackburst had raised a similar objection in alt.assassination.jfk, apparently not bothering to read Beckham's stated reason for the difference. He also noted that "even" Jack Martin warned the HSCA off Beckham, apparently not realizing that this is perfectly understandable as Beckham's testimony implicates Martin. It seems to me that questions about Beckham's testimony are usually best answered by paying attention to his testimony. I find Beckham's testimony compelling because it fits well with all I have learned about the assassination, and it explains aspects of his life well, the "church" activity, his relationship with Col. Lowry, the specialized knowledge of Jack Martin displayed in his Grand Jury testimony, etc.

As for Shaw's sexual behavior, this is usually a part of the testimony of some of the homosexual informants (like David Logan and William Morris) with information relevant to the assassination, or information about his sexual activities is sometimes used to corrobate these very witnesses. In addition, Shaw's homosexual activities are pretty well tied in with his alias, Clay Bertand. They also reveal his more violent tendencies, which undermine Shaw's carefully constructed public image.

I think you would do well to drop the cannard about Garrison believing the assassination was a homosexual thrill-killing (the source for this, James Phelan, has been revealed to be unworthy of anyone's trust), even if you do add a qualifier. Mellen shows just how ahead of his time Garrison was on the issue of "crimes against nature." In fact, just read On the Trail of the Assassins to see this. Garrison does not mention that Ferrie and Shaw were homosexual once, and thoroughly removes any traces of homosexual content from the accounts of David Logan and William Morris.

I have already dealt with the objections to the "loan theory" (it isn't a theory if it's based on eyewitness testimony, you know this).

The most virulent criticisms of Garrison did not originate, as you state, with respected assassination researchers but dubious "news men." Since you have read the book, you should know this. You say you do not "endorse" it, but by falsely stating that the most virulent criticism of Garrison comes from respected assassination researchers, you lend it legitimacy.

Owen wrote:

Your behavior in relation to this book is very strange. When you had the pre-review copy, I didn't sense that you had any misgivings with it whatsoever. Now that its officially released, you can't stop picking at real and percieved [sic] nits.

Owen, as I stated above, I was ethically prohibited from posting on the book until its release date.

Yes, but your general comments about it seemed pretty positive.

Edited by Owen Parsons

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It was only after he learned of Chrisman's death that Beckham really spilled his guts to the HSCA. Stephen Roy/Blackburst had raised a similar objection in alt.assassination.jfk, apparently not bothering to read Beckham's stated reason for the difference. He also noted that "even" Jack Martin warned the HSCA off Beckham, apparently not realizing that this is perfectly understandable as Beckham's testimony implicates Martin. It seems to me that questions about Beckham's testimony are usually best answered by paying attention to his testimony.

Please note that my post was written quite sometime before the book came out, before I read it.

But now, having read it, it is clear that the difference between what Beckham testified to under oath to a Grand Jury in 1968 and what he stated recently, not under oath, is like night and day. There are two possible explanations:

One is that Beckham lied in 1968 because of fear, but is now telling the truth.

The other is that Beckham told the truth in 1968 but is lying or exaggerating now.

The same choice applies to why Jack S. Martin, Beckham's friend (and perhaps more) told HSCA that Beckham was a xxxx, a dead end: One possibility is that Martin feared he would implicate him. The other is that Martin was correct, Beckham was a teller of tall tales.

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Owen wrote:

Of course Beckham was involved in the conspiracy, in so far as he was being setup as a backup patsy. Having him deliver the plans can only further implicate him should the need ever arise for a "limited hang-out." Being implicated in this manner can also have a silencing effect, I would think. Beckham was always very cooperative as this group supported him and helped his music career. The significance and purpose of the assignment didn't even become clear to him until after the assassination. I would also note that the material Beckham delivered agrees well with material Ferrie had in his possession. The whole scenario is also supported by the activity in Gill's office after Ferrie was taken into custody.

The first point I wish to make is that if what Beckham says is true, it implicates Marcello (through Gill) not Shaw. Any evidence linking Marcellos or Gill to Shaw is doubtful at best.

So Beckham's story is really consistent with my conclusions re who the conspirators were (Trafficante and Marcello).

Be that as it may, I still tend to doubt Beckham's story.

First, I do not think the Mafia normally involves its attorneys in its criminal enterprises. If the attorney is good, the Mafia wants to keep him clean so he is available for legal defense.

Second, your argument that Beckham was being set up as a backup patsy sounds good at first, but not if you give it any thought. Beckham was going to be set up as an alternate patsy through his delivery of the documents? How so? Who was going to prove that he had delivered such documents? Only another conspirator could so so. So do you think Gill of Ferrie was going to come forwward and say, "I did it, but Beckham helped"? How would that make him a patsy?

Third, why would the conspirators set Beckham up by giving him the plans for the assassination, thereby risking ruination of the plan if Beckham was caught? I am sure that if indeed (as I and most suspect) Oswald was a patsy: 1) he had not met the actual conspirators; and 2) had he for whatever reason been "caught" before November 22nd, I am sure he had no documents on him from which the assassination plans could have beeb inferred.

Fourth, you state Beckham lied before the jury because Chrisman had threated his life. But the only substantiation to that threat comes from Beckham himself. You can hardly use the statement of the man himself to bolster his credibility.

Finally, you stated that "the whole scenario is also supported by the activity in Gill's office after Ferrie was taken into custody". If by that you are refering to the Gill client who claimed she saw Gill's attorney going through his desk drwer to clean it up of incriminating documents, that story is, I submit, as preposterous as Beckham's. An attorney as skillful as Gill would leave in his desk documents incriminating him in a murder? And even if he had, rather than disposing of the documents himself he has his secretary do it, and do it in front of a witness? For heaven's sake, Owen, if you can believe that, I can now understand how you could belive Shaw was guilty.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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I'd hoped to see this thread go off into some of the hugely important implications of Joan's

work such as the Silva interview, the Clinton implications, Oswald's FBI and customs

associations, etc.

However since it has veered off into Beckham and Chrisman I would strongly encourage

anyone following that path to do some real homework (a friend of mine out in Washington

State and I spent about three years on those two so I claim a bit of experience). It is

clear that Beckham had some association with Bannister's crew and with Oswald (I

pointed out Beckham in the lefleting photo to Joan some time ago...a broader version

of the photo shows three young Latin girls, one of whom I belive to be his wife....she

was young enough that he had a rape conviction related to that marriage).

There are many areas of Chrisman's background which are fascinating....the underground

robots in telepathic contact with him are an example as is his UFO report which almost

let to charges by the Air Force. Beyond that his association with Beckham after the

assassination has some entertaining aspects.....it's hard for me to see that two men

involved in killing a President would later be involved in scams including placing fake

donation jars in bars in Tacoma Wa. Not to mention a variety of similar low end

scams. Of course Chrisman's effort to show that the CIA was involved in undermining

the activities of local school boards is also problematic. I can tell you that our inteview

with his principal clearly showed he was in school on November 22, 1963 - even though

the Principal had little good to say about him and thought him a bad influence on his

students.

To repeat, Beckham did know that Oswald was not what the WC presented him to be...from

first hand experience. It's too bad he didn't do something simple for Garrison like

associate Oswald with Bannister. However for everyone who wants to go further with

Becikham should do some in depth research on both Chrisman and Beckham. Including

Chrisman's demonstrated abilities at forging documents on government stationary.

-- Larry

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Owen wrote:

Of course Beckham was involved in the conspiracy, in so far as he was being setup as a backup patsy. Having him deliver the plans can only further implicate him should the need ever arise for a "limited hang-out." Being implicated in this manner can also have a silencing effect, I would think. Beckham was always very cooperative as this group supported him and helped his music career. The significance and purpose of the assignment didn't even become clear to him until after the assassination. I would also note that the material Beckham delivered agrees well with material Ferrie had in his possession. The whole scenario is also supported by the activity in Gill's office after Ferrie was taken into custody.

The first point I wish to make is that if what Beckham says is true, it implicates Marcello (through Gill) not Shaw. Any evidence linking Marcellos or Gill to Shaw is doubtful at best.

So Beckham's story is really consistent with my conclusions re who the conspirators were (Trafficante and Marcello).

I think you should note that Beckham also places Shaw in Gill's offices at the time the assignment was given. I don't really know how you can say his story doesn't implicate Shaw.

First, I do not think the Mafia normally involves its attorneys in its criminal enterprises. If the attorney is good, the Mafia wants to keep him clean so he is available for legal defense.

People don't always think ahead or operate at the peak of their mental faculties.

Second, your argument that Beckham was being set up as a backup patsy sounds good at first, but not if you give it any thought. Beckham was going to be set up as an alternate patsy through his delivery of the documents? How so? Who was going to prove that he had delivered such documents? Only another conspirator could so so. So do you think Gill of Ferrie was going to come forwward and say, "I did it, but Beckham helped"? How would that make him a patsy?

Beckham was also being endowed with a dubious profile through his checking into mental hospitals at Jack Martin's urging, part of the "sheep dipping" process. If Beckham were to come forward, he could easily be discredited with this information. This is what I am getting at when I talk about him being set up as a backup patsy.

Third, why would the conspirators set Beckham up by giving him the plans for the assassination, thereby risking ruination of the plan if Beckham was caught? I am sure that if indeed (as I and most suspect) Oswald was a patsy: 1) he had not met the actual conspirators; and 2) had he for whatever reason been "caught" before November 22nd, I am sure he had no documents on him from which the assassination plans could have beeb inferred.

I don't think that there is a great deal of chance that he would be caught for delivering an envelope. And even if he was "caught" the conspirators had already succeeded in making him look like a nut. I think Beckham would be a pretty safe bet. Also, there is quite a bit of evidence placing Oswald in the presence of conspirators. As an example, I think most researchers credit the Antonio Veciana story, and you yourself have said that Mellen did good work on the Clinton incident.

Fourth, you state Beckham lied before the jury because Chrisman had threated his life. But the only substantiation to that threat comes from Beckham himself. You can hardly use the statement of the man himself to bolster his credibility.

I didn't say it bolstered his credibility, but its a perfectly feasible answer to your objection.

Finally, you stated that "the whole scenario is also supported by the activity in Gill's office after Ferrie was taken into custody". If by that you are refering to the Gill client who claimed she saw Gill's attorney going through his desk drwer to clean it up of incriminating documents, that story is, I submit, as preposterous as Beckham's. An attorney as skillful as Gill would leave in his desk documents incriminating him in a murder? And even if he had, rather than disposing of the documents himself he has his secretary do it, and do it in front of a witness? For heaven's sake, Owen, if you can believe that, I can now understand how you could belive Shaw was guilty.

Read her story again. It is Ferrie's material that is being cleaned out of the office, not Gill's. Gill apparently went into panic mode after Ferrie was taken into custody, and quickly moved to sweep everything relating to Ferrie up. Apparently it occured to him that Ferrie might not have been so careful as he was. I am also impressed with how well this story supports Beckham's, though it is independent of it.

Larry: Oh, believe me, I'm quite familiar with Crisman's various activities and life story. I have a few thoughts on it. I think its quite likely that the UFO-spewing-molten-slag story was just cover for something more prosaic, namely the dumping of toxic waste. Mellen suggests this and I think Crisman himself later said as much. I would also note that his tales of fighting robots ("Deros") in underground caverns sent via letter to one of Raymond Palmer's magazines, came right on the heels of the UFO story, before any real investigation of it had started, and were later mocked in a major magazine, Harper's, seemingly to impeach the value of his UFO testimony further.

I don't know about his demonstrated ability to forge documents on government stationary (I wouldn't put it past him), but I assume you are talking about the "Easy Papers," which speak of Crisman's alleged efforts to undermine the Tacoma School Board on behalf of the CIA. First, these aren't, to my knowledge, on government stationary, second, though probably written by him, they have not been successfully linked to him. I would note that the Easy Papers seem to have been produced shortly after he was called before the Grand Jury in Re: Garrison's investigation and after Garrison's office had called him an "industrial espionage agent," or something to that effect. It would appear to me that the purpose of this document is to make suggestions that he is an intelligence agent appear absurd. Crisman actually talks about these (probably self-perpetuated) allegations in his autobiography, Murder of a City, Tacoma, noting how silly they are. It seems to me that there is quite a bit of method in Crisman's madness.

Crisman's whereabouts on November 22 are really only of importance if one believes Crisman was one of the tramps (which I don't). Crisman had always maintained that he was in school on November 22. Beckham's story does not place him elsewhere, nor does Crisman need to be elsewhere.

Edited by Owen Parsons

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A member of this Forum, Mel Ayton (who of course is a LN advocate but that does not make all his thoughts invalid) posted a highly unfavorable review of AF2J on Amazon. I thought it worthwhile pointing out the following paragraph because it relates to another member of this Forum, Don Bohning. Perhaps Mr. Bohning would like to comment.

From the Ayton review on Amazon:

Branding authors who reject JFK conspiracy theories as 'CIA assets' is Mellen's favourite smear tactic in the book. It is a common tool used by JFK conspiracy writers - it is also 'McCarthyite' in nature. Don Bohning, a former Miami Herald reporter and author of 'The Castro Obsession' (2005) is incensed with references made by Mellen that he was a 'CIA sponsored' reporter. Bohning contacted the book's publishers, suggesting it was libelous. They contacted Mellen and said she agreed to change the description to 'CIA linked.' The reference is still extremely misleading, Bohning said. " (I)...never took a cent from the CIA and was outraged by the implication - along with the terms 'writer asset' and 'utilized'." (Email to Mel Ayton, 3.10.2005)....Top editors at the Herald were well aware - and approved - of my contacts with the CIA during the 1960s."(Email to Mel Ayton 9-10-05).

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The CIA certainly thought Don Bohning was an asset ("AMCARBON-3"), even if Bohning disagrees with them. Mellen draws a perfectly reasonable conclusion from the documents.

Edited by Owen Parsons

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