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The HSCA would have been quite different if he had survived.

In my two part essay on the HSCA, originally published in Probe magazine, Part 1 focused on him.

Cyril Wecht sent that article to him.  He read it and wrote me a letter through Wecht.  Sprague said that was the best article he ever read on his duration as HSCA Chief Counsel.

That ended up in the Probe anthology The Assassinations.

HIs questioning of Trafficante was humorous.  I think he asked him words to the effect: Have you ever been an agent of the CIA?

Edited by James DiEugenio
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The thing about Sprague was this:  he was a very experienced criminal prosecutor. Which very few people on the Warren COmmission were.  I mean Liebeler?  Belin? 

Plus, he understood how to investigate conspiracies. 

The case that made him famous was the Yablonski murders, where he was appointed special prosecutor.  And he ended up solving the crime and convicting the plotters.

The other thing is, since he dealt with homicides, he understood the importance of medico-legal autopsies.  I will never forget my interview with one of the guys Sprague appointed as a chief assistant, guy named Al Lewis.  In commenting on Kennedy's autopsy, I quoted the words of Harold Weisberg: Oswald got a first class autopsy, JFK got the autopsy of a bowery bum.  Lewis replied with: "Its worse than that."  I tried to get him to expand on that comment but he waved me off.

Edited by James DiEugenio
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Another anecdote from Al Lewis.

Sprague had called for a photographic review of the case from Cutler, Groden, and the other Dick Sprague, the photoanalyst.  So everyone was gathered in a large screening room.  Before Cutler started, lawyer Sprague stood up, turned around and said, "I don't expect anyone to leave unless I leave.  And I don't plan on leaving."

Cutler's presentation lasted about an hour.  Groden's was about two.  Sprague's was by far the longest and most in depth.  Lasted almost four hours.

Lewis told me that by the end, especially after the last, 12 of the 13 lawyers on the JFK side concluded it was a conspiracy.

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18 hours ago, Kishan Dandiker said:

https://www.inquirer.com/news/richard-sprague-obit-death-philly-20210405.html
 
Things may have been very different had he not left the HSCA. RIP

I disagree.........I do agree that if he hadn't left he would've conducted the investigation like it should have been conducted. However, I do believe that if he remained steadfast in that endeavor and was accomplishing anything despite all the stonewalling and government resistance then I am pretty certain we wouldn't be seeing an R.I.P. from him now. He almost certainly would've met one of the untimely deaths pretty common in this case.

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7 minutes ago, Jamey Flanagan said:

I disagree.........I do agree that if he hadn't left he would've conducted the investigation like it should have been conducted. However, I do believe that if he remained steadfast in that endeavor and was accomplishing anything despite all the stonewalling and government resistance then I am pretty certain we wouldn't be seeing an R.I.P. from him now. He almost certainly would've met one of the untimely deaths pretty common in this case.

That's true Jamey. He likely wouldn't have made it to his retirement years. 

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You could not just dispose of a guy like that in such a high profile position.

So what they did, and its in my article, they plotted against him within congress by starting up the phony Gonzalez/Sprague feud.

The second thing they did was to smear him in the press. One example: they did four days of articles on him in the NY TImes, and ended with an editorial requesting he leave. Another guy was Nicholas Horrock, he started slamming Sprague at Newsweek

It got to the point that either Sprague had to leave or the committee would be disbanded.  So Sprague left. (In retrospect it probably should have been disbanded.)

The problem then was that no one of  Sprague's caliber would take the job.  I got this again from Al Lewis. He tried to get someone of that pedigree to do it.  But the signal had been sent.  Plus, whoever did take the job wanted assurances of cooperation that Lewis could not get.

So what happened is that Chris Dodd came up with Blakey. 

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Sprague's approach was this: as much as possible should be done in public.  The idea was to restore confidence in government.  LIke he said in that posted article, he was  working for history, not congress.

Secondly, he was not going to settle for redacted documents or withheld documents.  He was going to sue in court, like Archibald Cox and Jaworski had done with the Nixon tapes in Watergate.

In addition to the photo record, Sprague was  interested in two angles right off the bat.  First, the whole Odio event fascinated him.  Why did the WC not believe her? Second, he was also interested in Mexico City.  In fact, he actually flew down there to interview the Tarasoffs.  And he came back with the typewriter they used for the transcripts. Why?  He thought David Phillips had altered them.

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With all due respect, what's more high profile than the President? Lol! And not saying definitively that he was disposed of but look at the case of Hale Boggs. Something could have been done like that or like Hoffa where he just disappeared. I mean, they don't have to shoot you down in the street like they did Kennedy. They could have found a more discreet way to kill JFK, but they wanted it to be brutal to send a message. It wasn't just business, it was personal even though most of their animosity was more towards Bobby. Anyway, besides just disappearing, how many heart attacks, suicides and cases of cancer happened to people who stood in the way of the perpetrators? Garrison was never killed but had it been their last option I don't believe they would have hesitated to eliminate him. Of course they try to discredit first but if that wasn't completely successful they would've took him out. No doubt in my mind!

Edited by Jamey Flanagan
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Glad you brought that up about Garrison.

See, if we are thinking on a macro level, there is a direct line to be drawn here.

It goes from:

Jim Garrison

to Richard Sprague

to Judge Joe Brown

to Gary Webb. 

These were all what I call bete noire cases: JFK, MLK, the CIA and drugs. No one, no matter what the reputation you have before, can be allowed to take them on for purposes of explication.  So they find a way to detonate you in public, always with the help of the media.  In fact, when the first wave of stories hit about Sprague, he tried to laugh it off at dinner.  But Chris Sharrett, a photo analyst on the HSCA staff said to himself:  This is Garrison all over again.

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But even with Garrison, at least on the micro level, we know that Dean Andrews and Clay Shaw had met with people and tried to get them to take Garrison out. Whether they were just acting on their own self interests or had authorization from higher ups I don't know. Each time this case is investigated, though still a whitewash, it gets better and better. From the Warren Comission to the HSCA to the ARRB (if you wanna call that an investigation). Hopefully if we were to get another official inquiry it will shed even more light. I'm not expecting the truth to "officially" come out EVER. I'm actually surprised considering the overwhelming public denial of the WC "official" story that there hasn't been a limited hangout. The "probable conspiracy" from the HSCA could kind of be considered that but without naming the other party and still denying the two shooters had worked together. I think it was Marchetti that had expressed the fact that the agency was considering a limited hangout with E. Howard Hunt getting outed as a co-conspirator. I'm just wondering if they had floated the Mortal Error theory as a limited hangout. It gets ridiculed, rightly so in some aspects, but it is still FAR more believable than the lone nut theory we got in the record. And at least it offers an explanation for the need of a coverup to hide the fact that a SS agent "accidentally" shot JFK and blew his head off. I wonder if that theory would have gained more traction if they would have went with it, especially after Hickey passed away.

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43 minutes ago, James DiEugenio said:

You could not just dispose of a guy like that in such a high profile position.

So what they did, and its in my article, they plotted against him within congress by starting up the phony Gonzalez/Sprague feud.

The second thing they did was to smear him in the press. One example: they did four days of articles on him in the NY TImes, and ended with an editorial requesting he leave. Another guy was Nicholas Horrock, he started slamming Sprague at Newsweek

It got to the point that either Sprague had to leave or the committee would be disbanded.  So Sprague left. (In retrospect it probably should have been disbanded.)

The problem then was that no one of  Sprague's caliber would take the job.  I got this again from Al Lewis. He tried to get someone of that pedigree to do it.  But the signal had been sent.  Plus, whoever did take the job wanted assurances of cooperation that Lewis could not get.

So what happened is that Chris Dodd came up with Blakey. 

You say that James but, we're talking also about the most powerful man on earth being disposed of in broad daylight in front of a watching crowd, followed by the Navy fixing the autopsy. His brother offed in a packed hotel kitchen on a campaign trail. The son more than likely offed, looking at the evidence and irregularities surrounding that 1999 plane crash. Even before all that Dag Hammerskjold in a dubious plane crash, the UN secretary general, the list goes on. Sprague is way down the list of importance and the way the media works, it would have been brushed under a carpet like everything else. I guess if he was offed reddit would be full of the majority commenting like "well people do commit suicide you know" and "plane crashes do happen for lots of reasons'. 

 

2 hours ago, James DiEugenio said:

The thing about Sprague was this:  he was a very experienced criminal prosecutor. Which very few people on the Warren COmmission were.  I mean Liebeler?  Belin? 

Plus, he understood how to investigate conspiracies. 

The case that made him famous was the Yablonski murders, where he was appointed special prosecutor.  And he ended up solving the crime and convicting the plotters.

The other thing is, since he dealt with homicides, he understood the importance of medico-legal autopsies.  I will never forget my interview with one of the guys Sprague appointed as a chief assistant, guy named Al Lewis.  In commenting on Kennedy's autopsy, I quoted the words of Harold Weisberg: Oswald got a first class autopsy, JFK got the autopsy of a bowery bum.  Lewis replied with: "Its worse than that."  I tried to get him to expand on that comment but he waved me off.

Keep these quotes coming, they are great to read. I bet there were so many who thought the same and kept quiet. 
 

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24 minutes ago, James DiEugenio said:

Glad you brought that up about Garrison.

See, if we are thinking on a macro level, there is a direct line to be drawn here.

It goes from:

Jim Garrison

to Richard Sprague

to Judge Joe Brown

to Gary Webb. 

These were all what I call bete noire cases: JFK, MLK, the CIA and drugs. No one, no matter what the reputation you have before, can be allowed to take them on for purposes of explication.  So they find a way to detonate you in public, always with the help of the media.  In fact, when the first wave of stories hit about Sprague, he tried to laugh it off at dinner.  But Chris Sharrett, a photo analyst on the HSCA staff said to himself:  This is Garrison all over again.

I see the same thing, same modus operandi to destroy reputation and credibility. Online now, it's even easier to accomplish in many respects. 

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