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A Failure in the Process?


Tim Gratz
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I wonder if one of the reasons more progress was not made with the JFK case is that both the WC and the HSCA were using attorneys who were young and inexperienced. Not to say several of them did not have excellent credentials, e.g. law review editors, judicial clerkships, etc. But actual litigation experience might have been helpful. I have not read many of the depositions thoroughly but I did read the deposition of Gerry Hemming taken before an attorney for the HSCA. t was approximately 230 pages. This is probably no more than four hours. It is incredible to me that a witness of Hemming's importance was not questioned for at least eight hours, if not sixteen. I can see many obvious follow-up questions which were missed. So it seems like this could have been a problem with the entire process.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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I'd go even further than that Tim, the essential problem is that none of the staff of the WC were experienced in criminal investigation. And certainly the same can be said of the "management" of the process. However, its important to recall that their charter was simply to accept the FBI report which should have been a criminal investigation. The WC members themselves frequently commented that they had few options and little resource to do anything except accept what was given to them by the FBI.

Of course the counter to that is that the FBI is such an investigative unit - when lead by experienced Justice Department prosecuting attorneys. Unfortunately that did not occur in this case and after 40 some years we have ample evidence that the FBI itself is subject to political pressure as well as the standard pressure to produce quick victories in national crimes - the Atlanta Olympic bombing and the Anthrax case are two rather obvious examples but there are much worse if you get into studides of the FBI and especially of its crime lab work. I won't even go to the OKC bombing.

The HSCA started out on a different track - but its experienced criminal leadership was neutered and removed pretty quickly. And there is no particular sign that the HSCA's staff attorney's in general did any better job with their interviews even if they did at least have a few aggressive field investigators. Fonzi's book contains an excellant example of his being called back from using real criminal investigation tactics.

-- Larry

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Good thoughts, Larry.

I probably agree after reading Fonzi's great book that there were restraints put on the investigation. But I also believe part of the problem was inexperienced staff members. As you point out also the WC had no investigative staff as such but its staff counsel performed some investigative functions.

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Guest Stephen Turner

Tim

Having followed your previous post's with interest, I should like to ask two questions:

1 How did Castro manage to get all these inexperenced lawyers appointed.

2 How did he manage to limit the scope of the investigations.

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I think you misunderstood my point.

I do not contend that some mastermind who was trying to limit the investigation deliberately caused the appointment of inexperienced counsel and do not see what led you to make such an inference. Therefore your comments about Castro are misplaced.

My point was simply that more experienced and aggressive attorneys on the WC or HSCA might have advanced the investigation. And I do not want to denigrate every counsel for the two organizations. I have not studied the performance of the attorneys sufficiently to make judgments about each attorney.

But in point of fact the WC did work to suppress any discussion of foreign involvement in the assassination. See, for instance, Vincent J. Salandia's "The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: A Model of Explanation" re Allen Dulles' role in suppressing expected testimony by Marina Oswald that her late husband might have been a Soviet agent. Interestingly, in that article Salandria also suggesta a link between the assassination of JFK and the coup that replaced Khruschev less than a year thereafter.

http://www.geocities.com/mdmorrissey/VSOct71.htm

Edited by Tim Gratz
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Having followed your previous post's with interest, I should like to ask two questions:

1 How did Castro manage to get all these inexperenced lawyers appointed.

2 How did he manage to limit the scope of the investigations.

In fact how did Castro organize the cover up. Surely, it would have been in the interests of LBJ, Hoover, the FBI, the CIA, etc. to blame the whole thing on Castro. In fact, there is considerable evidence to suggest that both the FBI and the CIA were active in trying to link Oswald with Castro in the weeks leading up to the assassination.

Trento, Posner and Epstein cannoy explain this and helps to explain why they have all been reluctant to respond on this forum (although all 3 have promised by email that they will - they are all in the process of finishing books).

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John you yourself have suggested that the cover-up might have been for reasons unrelated to the assassination itself.

Regardless of whether LBJ or Castro did it, LBJ's interest was clearly in "The Great Society". He had no interest in finding an excuse to invade Cuba. And since no one was actively investigating LBJ as the possible culprit, he had no interest in blaming Fidel to divert attention from himself.

I am interested in your statement that the CIA and FBI were trying to link LHO to Castro in the weeks prior to the assassination.

In fact, in the Odio incident the connection went the other way: LHO was with persons claiming to be anti-Castro Cubans and there were statements attributed to him (falsely?) that anti-Castro Cubans should have shot Kennedy over the Bay of Pigs.

The effort to avoid any possible inference of foreign involvement started the very night of the assassination when LBJ's aide Cliff Carter interfered in the Texas criminal process by ordering the DA to delete any reference to a foreign conspiracy in the indictment against LHO.

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John you yourself have suggested that the cover-up might have been for reasons unrelated to the assassination itself.

Regardless of whether LBJ or Castro did it, LBJ's interest was clearly in "The Great Society".  He had no interest in finding an excuse to invade Cuba.  And since no one was actively investigating LBJ as the possible culprit, he had no interest in blaming Fidel to divert attention from himself. 

I am interested in your statement that the CIA and FBI were trying to link LHO to Castro in the weeks prior to the assassination.

In fact, in the Odio incident the connection went the other way:  LHO was with persons claiming to be anti-Castro Cubans and there were statements attributed to him (falsely?) that anti-Castro Cubans should have shot Kennedy over the Bay of Pigs.

The effort to avoid any possible inference of foreign involvement started the very night of the assassination when LBJ's aide Cliff Carter interfered in the Texas criminal process by ordering the DA to delete any reference to a foreign conspiracy in the indictment against LHO.

Oddly enough, this was precisely the time at which CIA disclosed Oswald had visited the Cuban consulate in Mexico City, a fact which must have been known to it when it occurred in late September, yet it sat upon that same fact for the subsequent two months.  This, and the emergence of LHO's FPCC provocateur activities in New Orleans, certainly constituted prima facie evidence of a tie between the accused assassin and Castro.  [Had LHO not been apprehended, thereby giving the "delayed Cubana plane" story currency, the inference would have been incendiary.]

Oddly enough, it was also at this time that CIA disclosed Kostikov had a secondary role, aside from his bureaucratic one.  Given LHO's pinballing between the Cuban and Soviet installations in Mexico City, one could only draw the most extreme inference from such contacts, particularly if the "delayed Cubana plane" story hadn't been ruined by LHO's arrest.

The fact that Washington was disinclined to deal with such news doesn't blunt the intent of floating that news.

Anyone thinking that this was benign need only view the spurious interpretation of it passed by DPD's Stringfellow to Military Intelligence, and the use to which it was put in formulating military plans against Cuba.

As for the investigative bona fides of the WC staff, anyone suggesting that the staff were lightweights lacking in experience really should investigate the sterling performances of counsels Griffin, Hubert, Coleman and Slawson, and the shabby treatment accorded their best efforts. 

Internal Commission documents disclose that Griffin and Hubert compiled a highly disconcerting list of questions to be asked of Helms and McCone, not a single one of which was put to those witnesses.  The two junior counsels were livid with the result, and began to suspect that the Commission's interest in solving the case wasn't genuine, as their own memos disclose. 

That fact was driven home even more forcefully when neither counsel was allowed to attend the testimony of Jack Ruby, despite the fact that they had been specifically charged with investigating Ruby and his role.  Both counsels saw the writing on the wall, packed their bags and returned home.

Interference in the functions of the HSCA is so self-evident that it needs no further elaboration.  Neither Sprague, nor those he hired, need to apologize for their efforts.  Blakey, however, must be held accountable for the lacklustre result. 

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I wonder if one of the reasons more progress was not made with the JFK case is that both the WC and the HSCA were using attorneys who were young and inexperienced.  Not to say several of them did not have excellent credentials, e.g. law review editors, judicial clerkships, etc.  But actual litigation experience might have been helpful.  I have not read many of the depositions thoroughly but I did read the deposition of Gerry Hemming taken before an attorney for the HSCA.  t was approximately 230 pages.  This is probably  no more than four hours.  It is incredible to me that a witness of Hemming's importance was not questioned for at least eight hours, if not sixteen.  I can see many obvious follow-up questions which were missed.  So it seems like this could have been a problem with the entire process.

Tim,

I would argue that the counsels employed by the Warren Commission did an excellent job. However, we probably would disagree on what their job was; I happen to believe it was to coverup, not to investigate. First, they did this by limiting the scope of their report; they divided the "investigative" responsibiity into a handful of areas, and as Mark Lane used to point out, none of them dealt with the question of who committed the crime. The Warren Report was essentially a biography of Lee Harvey Oswald, the Hearings and Exhibits were clearly and obviously padded to make it look like a massive invesigation had been conducted, and the premise from the outset was simply to buttress the FBI's very slim initial report on the assassination, produced only days after the crime had been commited. To say that the FBI's "investigation" was lacking is to be very, very kind to the FBI.

I don't think that innocent young lawyers ignore crucial witnesses like Admiral Burkely, while somehow tracking down the likes of Mrs. Viola Peterman, who had been a neighbor of the Oswalds when Lee was an infant, and hadn't seen or spoken to any member of the Oswald family for over 20 years. There is no innocent explanation for calling someone like that as a witness, and if you read her testimony (which rambles on for several pages, and is longer than much of the testimony from witnesses who were at the scene of the crime and possessed pertinent information), you can observe the obvious "padding" going on by counsel. This "padding" process is evident in much of the testmony, as Specter, Belin, Ball, Liebeler and co. ask the witnesses about their childhoods, education, families, job history, and other completely irrelevant questions, while often forgetting to ask crucial and obvious questions. A good example of this would be the testimony of Sandra Styles, who was standing beside Elsie Dorman as she flimed the motorcade (she evidently missed the shooting itself, although this film has a curious history). First of all, the Warren Commission naturally didn't even call Ms. Dorman as a witness. It did take the testimony of Ms. Styles, but counsel David Belin neglected to ask her anything about her impressions of the shooting (what she heard, where the shots came from, etc.). He did find time to ask her about the high heels she was wearing that day, however.

The Hearings and Exhibits are filled with this kind of stuff, and it points very clearly towards a staff that knew exactly what it was doing, and did it very well.

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foreign involvement in the assassination. See, for instance, Vincent J. Salandia's "The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: A Model of Explanation" re Allen Dulles' role in suppressing expected testimony by Marina Oswald that her late husband might have been a Soviet agent. Interestingly, in that article Salandria also suggesta a link between the assassination of JFK and the coup that replaced Khruschev less than a year thereafter.

________________

Attorney Vincent Salandria has long viewed the assassination of JFK and the resultant cover-up as a domestic conspiracy with international implications.

Calling this "...a patent Cold War killing--the bloody work of the US military-intelligence systems and its supporting civilian power elite", Vince gave the keynote address in Dallas at the COPA conference on 1998. The title of his presentation was "The Transparent Conspiracy".

I am not certain if COPA (Coalition on Political Assassinations) materials can be viewed online, but I imagine they can be purchased.

Vince Salandria has never expressed the view that JFK was murdered by any "foreign" conspiracy, and to even hint at such here is laughable.

Dawn

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I've read some of Salandria's articles, and find his ideas intriguing, but ultimately flawed. He believes that there was an organized assassination followed by a DELIBERATELY sloppy cover-up. He believes that this was designed to send a message to liberals and concerned Americans that there was a new power block to be reckoned with, and that they were omnipotent, controlling the whole of the Government and the media. I think Salandria kind of punked out, rather than weaving through all the conflicting information to find a truth, he decided that there was a force MAKING all the information conflict. This allowed him to quit his investigation and throw his hands up while retaining his belief that something really bad had occurred.

I just don't believe such a unified evil exists. Look at the current administration and how many holes have appeared in their facade since the sham war in Iraq began. People like O'Neil, Clarke, and Powell have all defected, with more to come. Look at Watergate--the President's men scrambled like rats from a sinking ship to save their own tails. Look at Iran-Contra, even Ollie North fingered the President, and George HW Bush was forced to publicly pardon Caspar Weinberger in an attempt to hide his own involvement Still, even after the pardon, Secretary of State George Shultz outed Bush in his memoirs. (He may have even done it before the pardon.) Either way, truth slipped out.

While we've all seen evidence that the men in power are sufficiently evil to attempt such a conspiracy, I see no evidence that the men in power are COMPETENT enough to pull it off.

Edited by Pat Speer
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Dawn:

For you to say what you said indicates you have not read Salandria's article. He clearly states (rightly or wrongly) that the US intelligence agencies could not have killed Kennedy without the acquiesence of Soviet intelligence. He implies it could have been a joint operation of hard-liners in both Western and East bloc intelligence agencies.

I note that no one has yet posted any evidence on my "KKK" thread indicating any involvement by US intelligence agencies.

Obviously, one of the rationales for those arguing participation in the JFK murder by US intelligence or the military is that hard-liners in those groups did not agree with the Kennedy-Khruschev efforts to end the Cold War. It is reasonable to assume that there were hard-liners in the Eastern bloc who disagreed with those efforts as well. And of course if the fall of Khruschev was related to those efforts, clearly his elimination was orchestrated by the KGB hard-liners.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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Guest Stephen Turner
Good thoughts, Larry.

I probably agree after reading Fonzi's great book that there were restraints put on the investigation.  But I also believe part of the problem was inexperienced staff members.  As you point out also the WC had no investigative staff as such but its staff counsel performed some investigative functions.

Tim

Who do you belive placed these restraints on the investigation. For what purpose? And who do you belive benefited from this.

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I've read some of Salandria's articles, and find his ideas intriguing, but ultimately flawed.  He believes that there was an organized assassination followed by a DELIBERATELY sloppy cover-up.  He believes that this was designed to send a message to liberals and concerned Americans that there was a new power block to be reckoned with, and that they were omnipotent, controlling the whole of the Government and the media.  I think Salandria kind of punked out, rather than weaving through all the conflicting information to find a truth, he decided that there was a force MAKING all the information conflict.  This allowed him to quit his investigation and throw his hands up while retaining his belief that something really bad had occurred.

I just don't believe such a unified evil exists.  Look at the current administration and how many holes have appeared in their facade since the sham war in Iraq began.  People like O'Neil, Clarke, and Powell have all defected, with more to come.  Look at Watergate--the President's men scrambled like rats from a sinking ship to save their own tails.  Look at Iran-Contra, even Ollie North fingered the President, and George HW Bush was forced to publicly pardon Caspar Weinberger in an attempt to hide his own involvement  Still, even after the pardon, Secretary of State George Shultz outed Bush in his memoirs.  (He may have even done it before the pardon.)  Either way, truth slipped out. 

While we've all seen evidence that the men in power are sufficiently evil to attempt such a conspiracy, I see no evidence that the men in power are COMPETENT enough to pull it off.

Pat,

I think Vincent Salandria's perspective on this is right on. I don't know how else to explain the childish, inept nature of the coverup, except that it was done on purpose. If we assume (I certainly do) that the most powerful forces in our society were behind the assassination and the subsequent coverup, then certainly they would have been able to come up with a more sophisticated cover story. Conspirators of this caliber would not have come up with anything as ridiculous as the single-bullet theory, if they desired that the public never know the truth. They would have known that the bullet holes in JFK's clothing offer complete and utter disproof of this alone. They wouldn't have utilized an obviously mob-connected sleazeball like Jack Ruby to silence Oswald, especially while he was being "protected" by more than 70 police officers! There would have been any number of less suspicous ways to kill Oswald, most notably as he was "resisting" arrest in the Texas Theater.

We also have the fact that criticism of the Warren Report was permitted, at least as far as articles and books were concerned (produced by mainstream publishing houses), creating widespread skepticism amongst the public at large. Other controversial subjects, wherein the author argued a large, governmental conspiracy theory, have not been produced by the same large publishing houses. For instance, many argue that the official versions of the Oklahoma City bombing and the 911 attacks were just as ridiculous as the official version of the JFK assassination. There aren't any books exposing the flaws in those official theories in the public library (well, okay, there is one about the OKC bombing-"Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror" by Hoffman, which I urge everyone to read-but you get the point).

And the fact that EVERY television journalist continues to support the absurd Warren Commission fairy tale, just supports Salandria's contention. They WANT us to know they know, and when the likes of Peter Jennings stare into the screen and mouth lies, they are sending the message to anyone with a cursory knowledge of the case that they are totally aware they are lying, and are aware that you know they are lying.

The people who killed JFK knew that the public is basically apolitical, and except for a small minority like us, would realize that Oswald didn't do it, but wouldn't care about finding the real culprits. This very sad reality is reflected in polls that have consistently shown that while a huge majority of Americans believe there was a conspiracy to kill JFK, almost as large a majority do not support a new investigation. That's the mindset we have to deal with, and the real conspirators were educated enough to realize that ahead of time.

Call it doing an endzone celebration, or a morbid victory dance, but I look at all the conspiratorial tidbits scattered throughout the 26 volumes of Hearings and Exhibits- which the original band of critics exposed so well-as a "in your face" type of statement by the conspirators. "Yes, we're saying this undamaged bullet caused 7 wounds, and we're even going to publish photos of identical bullets that came out badly damaged in test firing in our exhibits. Yes, we're going to still claim that JFK was shot only from behind, even though the one clear home movie of the killing we're going to (grudgingly) admit to be shown reveals that his head went backwards after the shot, in violation of a basic law of physics. Yes, we're going to claim that Oswald achieved this shooting on his own, even though we're going to include the fact that the top shooters in the country couldn't duplicate his feat as part of our record. Yes, our legal staff is not going to call some of the most crucial witnesses to the crime, and they are going to track down completely irrelevant people who had nothing at all to do with the events being "investigated." Yes, our post-assassination scenario for Oswald is going to be filled with the most illogical series of movements imaginable, and will feature a series of laughable witnesses that no real prosectution team would have used. Yes, we are going to have the alleged assassin gunned down on live TV, by an easily discovered low-level mobster, while he is shackled between two police officers, and our only answer to the obvious "he was silenced" reaction will be that Ruby was grief-stricken and didn't want Jackie Kennedy to testify at a trial. Yes, there will be a series of unnatural deaths of those who are connected in some way to the events in Dallas, and this will become common knowledge. Yes, we will publish some truly startling testimony from Jack Ruby, where he literally begs Earl Warren & co. to take him back to Washington so that he can 'tell the truth.'"

I think you get my point (which I probably took too long to make). I think the conspirators would have been able to coverup this crime a lot better than they did, if they really wanted to. The fact is, I agree with Vincent Salandria that they wanted us to know.

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I've read some of Salandria's articles, and find his ideas intriguing, but ultimately flawed.  He believes that there was an organized assassination followed by a DELIBERATELY sloppy cover-up.  He believes that this was designed to send a message to liberals and concerned Americans that there was a new power block to be reckoned with, and that they were omnipotent, controlling the whole of the Government and the media.  I think Salandria kind of punked out, rather than weaving through all the conflicting information to find a truth, he decided that there was a force MAKING all the information conflict.  This allowed him to quit his investigation and throw his hands up while retaining his belief that something really bad had occurred.

I just don't believe such a unified evil exists.  Look at the current administration and how many holes have appeared in their facade since the sham war in Iraq began.  People like O'Neil, Clarke, and Powell have all defected, with more to come.  Look at Watergate--the President's men scrambled like rats from a sinking ship to save their own tails.  Look at Iran-Contra, even Ollie North fingered the President, and George HW Bush was forced to publicly pardon Caspar Weinberger in an attempt to hide his own involvement  Still, even after the pardon, Secretary of State George Shultz outed Bush in his memoirs.  (He may have even done it before the pardon.)  Either way, truth slipped out. 

While we've all seen evidence that the men in power are sufficiently evil to attempt such a conspiracy, I see no evidence that the men in power are COMPETENT enough to pull it off.

Pat,

I think Vincent Salandria's perspective on this is right on. I don't know how else to explain the childish, inept nature of the coverup, except that it was done on purpose. If we assume (I certainly do) that the most powerful forces in our society were behind the assassination and the subsequent coverup, then certainly they would have been able to come up with a more sophisticated cover story. Conspirators of this caliber would not have come up with anything as ridiculous as the single-bullet theory, if they desired that the public never know the truth. They would have known that the bullet holes in JFK's clothing offer complete and utter disproof of this alone. They wouldn't have utilized an obviously mob-connected sleazeball like Jack Ruby to silence Oswald, especially while he was being "protected" by more than 70 police officers! There would have been any number of less suspicous ways to kill Oswald, most notably as he was "resisting" arrest in the Texas Theater.

We also have the fact that criticism of the Warren Report was permitted, at least as far as articles and books were concerned (produced by mainstream publishing houses), creating widespread skepticism amongst the public at large. Other controversial subjects, wherein the author argued a large, governmental conspiracy theory, have not been produced by the same large publishing houses. For instance, many argue that the official versions of the Oklahoma City bombing and the 911 attacks were just as ridiculous as the official version of the JFK assassination. There aren't any books exposing the flaws in those official theories in the public library (well, okay, there is one about the OKC bombing-"Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror" by Hoffman, which I urge everyone to read-but you get the point).

And the fact that EVERY television journalist continues to support the absurd Warren Commission fairy tale, just supports Salandria's contention. They WANT us to know they know, and when the likes of Peter Jennings stare into the screen and mouth lies, they are sending the message to anyone with a cursory knowledge of the case that they are totally aware they are lying, and are aware that you know they are lying.

The people who killed JFK knew that the public is basically apolitical, and except for a small minority like us, would realize that Oswald didn't do it, but wouldn't care about finding the real culprits. This very sad reality is reflected in polls that have consistently shown that while a huge majority of Americans believe there was a conspiracy to kill JFK, almost as large a majority do not support a new investigation. That's the mindset we have to deal with, and the real conspirators were educated enough to realize that ahead of time.

Call it doing an endzone celebration, or a morbid victory dance, but I look at all the conspiratorial tidbits scattered throughout the 26 volumes of Hearings and Exhibits- which the original band of critics exposed so well-as a "in your face" type of statement by the conspirators. "Yes, we're saying this undamaged bullet caused 7 wounds, and we're even going to publish photos of identical bullets that came out badly damaged in test firing in our exhibits. Yes, we're going to still claim that JFK was shot only from behind, even though the one clear home movie of the killing we're going to (grudgingly) admit to be shown reveals that his head went backwards after the shot, in violation of a basic law of physics. Yes, we're going to claim that Oswald achieved this shooting on his own, even though we're going to include the fact that the top shooters in the country couldn't duplicate his feat as part of our record. Yes, our legal staff is not going to call some of the most crucial witnesses to the crime, and they are going to track down completely irrelevant people who had nothing at all to do with the events being "investigated." Yes, our post-assassination scenario for Oswald is going to be filled with the most illogical series of movements imaginable, and will feature a series of laughable witnesses that no real prosectution team would have used. Yes, we are going to have the alleged assassin gunned down on live TV, by an easily discovered low-level mobster, while he is shackled between two police officers, and our only answer to the obvious "he was silenced" reaction will be that Ruby was grief-stricken and didn't want Jackie Kennedy to testify at a trial. Yes, there will be a series of unnatural deaths of those who are connected in some way to the events in Dallas, and this will become common knowledge. Yes, we will publish some truly startling testimony from Jack Ruby, where he literally begs Earl Warren & co. to take him back to Washington so that he can 'tell the truth.'"

I think you get my point (which I probably took too long to make). I think the conspirators would have been able to coverup this crime a lot better than they did, if they really wanted to. The fact is, I agree with Vincent Salandria that they wanted us to know.

Great stuff Dan.

It was about power and intimidation....a message was sent clearly from

the vigilantes to the public, from the cabal to the democracy it usurped...

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