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Joan Mellen: A Farewell to Justice


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A commonsensical explanation of Oswald's assertion of seeing Powers in Moscow would indeed be that he saw him on television. Where else would Oswald have seen enough to conclude that Powers "seemed to be a nice, bright, American-type fellow?"
At the trial (which seems to square better with Oswald's phraseology), of course. If anything, he would get a better sense of Power's character there than from T.V. spots.

Now we are into the realm of defending Professor Mellen's claim that Oswald appeared at Powers' trial on the basis that sitting in the back of a courtroom would have provided "a better sense of Powers' character there than from T.V. spots." Let's get back to Professor Mellen's source, which, to reiterate, was not Weberman. Anyone taking up the mantle of dogmatically defending every aspect of the book should be able to demonstrate the source of such a bold historical claim without resorting to unattributed sources. Let Professor Mellen explain the bases for asserting that Banister was shot to death, Oswald attended Powers' trial and Harvey testified to specific White House approval of a Johnny Roselli assassination plot.

T.C.

I don't know if Professor Mellen bases her statement about Oswald being at Powers' trial on Weberman or not. I just brought it up to demonstrate that there is some reason for concluding that he was, since you didn't understand "why or how" she could come to that conclusion. As for the debate about what would provide a better sense of Powers' character, you're the one who started down that path. I think a plain sense reading of the passage from Oswald's letter indicates he saw Powers' in person. Oswald may be making it up, but I don't think he is referring to what he saw on T.V.

I think Mellen's sources re: Banister and Harvey should be pretty apparent from her footnotes.

Edited by Owen Parsons
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Hi, Joan! Glad to have you with us!. Congratulations on finally seeing AFTJ through to publication. The amount of raw material you accumulated is staggering, with loads of new material for the rest of us to digest. And many thanks for the acknowledgment! I hope I helped in some small way.

I appreciate this question in particular because there has been a great deal of controversy on Thomas Edward Beckham, whose story runs throughout "A Farewell to Justice." In New Orleans on December 7th, I had a long talk with L. J. Delsa, whom you all know as a member of Team #3, the Louisiana team for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, and a long-time homicide detective with the New Orleans police department. L. J. believes firmly in the statements Thomas Edward Beckham made first to him and to Jonathan Blackmer and Robert Buras, and then his further statements to me. Here is a witness who is talking AGAINST INTEREST. Here is a witness who is asking for nothing, who refused to speak to Oliver STone's people, who were offering thousands of dollars to people as consultants. Here is a person who refused to speak to Jim Garrison when, as a judge, Garrison approached him in the 1980s. Some of Delsa's views about Beckham are offered in "A Farewell to Justice." Recently, we discussed the issue again. With his long experience with witnesses, Delsa remains certain that Beckham is an important piece of the puzzle regarding the planning, the origins, of the plan to murder President Kennedy. We are now in the process of approaching new witnesses, people never before questioned, to further this research.

As I noted in a prior post, the Beckham account presents certain problems. His current account differs drastically from his testimony before the Grand Jury. One of the two accounts must be untrue. I do understand that Delsa believes that his later account is true, but as he was not privy to those activities in the 1961-3 period, I presume he is basing his belief on his late 70s discussions with Beckham. He may be right, but his belief does not resolve all doubts about Beckham. I would be interested in your followup research.

On the other hand, the recent furor about Beckham in my book should excite suspicion. I told Beckham on Sunday about Gus Russo's statement that Beckham was peddling a 300 page manuscript about the assassination in the 1970s. "I couldn't write a three word manuscript," he said to me. As you all know, his formal education ended in the third grade. So disinformation is being spread, smoke to confuse, like the recent book with the absurd thesis that Santos Trafficante, Carlos Marcello and Johnny Rosselli, plotted the assassination of President Kennedy, a book that goes on to defame a very decent man, Alberto Fowler.

Beckham is not a well man today, Steve. He has no need to exaggerate or lie.

At some point, either in 1968 or later, Beckham must have lied. The questions are when, and why. His Grand Jury testimony was given under oath, in an atmosphere where he might have been indicted for perjury or some other offense. Today, he is not under oath and is in no peril of prosecution. The Grand Jury transcript is interesting reading. If he was lying then, he gave a skilled performance, coming across as telling all he could, despite some very pointed questioning. As the proceedings were in secret, I wonder why he didn’t tell more at that time.

I’m sure you are aware that, from time to time, people peripherally connected to this case come forward with fanciful tales, and it is up to responsible researchers and historians to try to separate the wheat from the chaff. I think the New Orleans case, in particular, has a certain romantic appeal to some people. I have run into several people who have claimed to have information which ties together the loose ends of the case, but who have failed to withstand critical scrutiny. I find it hard to fathom the reasons why. In some cases, they have read the books and seen the films and simply want to be the person who solved the case. But perhaps my experiences with such people have set my “radar” a bit too high.

Beckham may well have lied in 1968 and told the truth to you and Delsa, but I am just not sure. It is a concern for me because, as you noted above, his account runs through the book and it does tie up a lot of loose ends. Can you explain what it was, for you, that caused you to accept his current account?

Jack Martin was not his friend but his handler. Jack Martin was also his enemy, and a man Beckham feared. When I first approached him, he asked, "is Jack Martin alive." L. J. notes, by the way, the very name "Jack Martin," a name so common (like Joe Jones) that it could refer to anyone....but that gets us into the Jack Martin controversy. I'll just add that there is no question in my mind, or in Delsa's, that Jack Martin was a CIA asset in New Orleans. In fact, Guy Banister told Thomas Edward Beckham as much.

I would like to discuss the Jack Martin matter, perhaps at a later time. Here is a relevant Martin reference I found:

On February 10, 1961 Jack S. Martin contacted the New Orleans FBI office and "advised that two of his clients in South America, who were in the oil business, had requested him to check on a Charles F. Riker, 2610 S. MacGregor Drive, Houston, Texas, who reportedly was in Venezuela and on various occasions had represented himself as an FBI agent or Central Intelligence agent. Martin advised that he was a private detective and wished to obtain any data the Bureau could give him regarding Riker on behalf of his client. Martin was unsuccessful in obtaining any information." The FBI seems to have been unaware of the sort of background information on Riker that the CIA would receive a few weeks later. "[informant number] MM T-1 advised that C.F. Riker, 2610 MacGregor #2, Houston, Texas...was in Miami and claimed to represent a group of assassins that operate exclusively against Communists. Riker is described as being well educated, and claims to have attended a number of Government schools having to do with arms, demolitions and languages. Riker claims he lived in Mexico during his youth, and speaks Spanish." It is intriguing to find Jack Martin seeking information about a self-described representative of assassins at this point.

But I have a few more questions:

It is my understanding that David Ferrie had other aircraft available to him in November 1963, and also had in excess of $8000. at that time. Why would he have needed to approach Herb Wagner for a $400. loan to rent a plane? Was Wagner’s associate the only source of that account? As for George Wray Gill Sr. having instructed him to do so, what was Gill’s motivation for becoming directly involved in the assassination conspiracy?

The account of Ferrie having a machine gun mounted on the landing of his home is quite interesting. In what time frame did this occur? What was the source of the account?

Thanks so much for the information.

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I have one single question for Joan Mellen, strictly concerning the footnotes to A Farewell to Justice. There does indeed seem to be something seriously wrong about halfway through the book, (in the footnotes section, they just do not seem to correspond to the material in the book.)

My concern is that there has been no acknowlegement of this by Joan Mellen, not to mention the fact that as someone who wants A Farewell to Justice to succeed as a valid historical accounting of material contained therein, I feel that the situation as described gives fuel to those who have an agenda aimed at discrediting the book for ulterior motives. Wouldn't offering a 'corrected' subsequent edition, be in order. I realize this might seem callous to Joan but 'Ultimate Sacrifice,' has to some degree been compromised over the fact that there is nothing to substantiate the author's assertions that AMWORLD was an 'in play operation' as opposed to simply one particular option under consideration, as well as the C-Day (Dec. 1, 1963 invasion date) assertion which appears to be equally lacking as far as part of a fluid historical record.

I for one, believe Joan Mellen's AFTJ offers a vital contribution to the record especially as the book is presented as a biography of Jim Garrison, and was never presented by the author as solving the JFK Assassination, but faces real damaging consequences for posterity if the footnotes 'problem' is not acknowledged by the author as well as some attempt on her part to rectify the situation, if for no other reason than to be used as a valid work historians can cite to hopefully, conclusively resolve the last pieces of the puzzle of November 22 in Dealey Plaza.

Edited by Robert Howard
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I have one single question for Joan Mellen, strictly concerning the footnotes to A Farewell to Justice. There does indeed seem to be something seriously wrong about halfway through the book, (in the footnotes section, they just do not seem to correspond to the material in the book.) My concern is that there has been no acknowlegement of this by Joan Mellen, not to mention the fact that as someone who wants A Farewell to Justice to succeed as a valid historical accounting of material contained therein, I feel that the situation as described gives fuel to those who have an agenda aimed at discrediting the book for ulterior motives....

There is a lot wrong with Professor Mellen's sourcing, and it isn't just the way the source notes get off track toward the end of Chapter 11, and are consistently one page off beginning with Chapter 12. An example of a source note like none I've ever seen in any historical work is the way she explains the use of Hemming's spinning, imagining, postulating.... The source note reads: "Hemming spins what amounts to a metaphor of a face-to-face meeting between Bobby Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald." This raises numerous questions about the use and manner of use of the Hemming story, only to qualify it as a "metaphor" in the notes. A metaphor of what? Of how an author can rationalize the use of non-factual material? No, it can't be that, since that's not a metaphor, it's what actually happened. Are we back to the disinfo accusation again; anyone who criticizes the book has "an agenda?"

T.C.

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The fact that the footnotes go one page off half-way through the book is the fault of the publisher and a red herring. The bottom line here is that the notes do correspond to actual passages in the text.

This raises numerous questions about the use and manner of use of the Hemming story, only to qualify it as a "metaphor" in the notes. A metaphor of what?

A metaphor for the Angel Murgado story, wherein the involvement of Bobby's associates with Oswald supposedly silenced him. Besides that, you are being dishonest here when you say it is only qualified as a "metaphor" in the notes. This qualifier is included in the main body of the text in addition to many other qualifiers. You really aren't able to get off this one, are you? Mellen is explicit in what she thinks of this story and how she uses it. It isn't presented as factual in the main body of the text, and you know this.

No, it can't be that, since that's not a metaphor, it's what actually happened. Are we back to the disinfo accusation again; anyone who criticizes the book has "an agenda?"

For my own part, I'm pretty certain I've never accused you of this (though I have implied this of Gratz). If I have anywhere, I apologize in advance.

Edited by Owen Parsons
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The fact that the footnotes go one page off half-way through the book is the fault of the publisher and a red herring. The bottom line here is that the notes do correspond to actual passages in the text.
This raises numerous questions about the use and manner of use of the Hemming story, only to qualify it as a "metaphor" in the notes. A metaphor of what?
A metaphor for the Angel Murgado story, wherein the involvement of Bobby's associates with Oswald supposedly silenced him. Besides that, you are being dishonest here when you say it is only qualified as a "metaphor" in the notes.

I don't believe that I'm the one being dishonest. Taking my above quote in context, it had nothing to do with Murgado, and the explicit quote from the book immediately preceding the segment quoted by Owen plainly demonstrates that:

The source note reads: "Hemming spins what amounts to a metaphor of a face-to-face meeting between Bobby Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald." This raises numerous questions about the use and manner of use of the Hemming story, only to qualify it as a "metaphor" in the notes. A metaphor of what?

My point about the metaphor is that the problems with the historicity of the book run far deeper than the source notes problem.

T.C.

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The account of Ferrie having a machine gun mounted on the landing of his home is quite interesting. In what time frame did this occur? What was the source of the account?

Woops! I just re-read this section, and you aren't necessarily saying Ferrie had a machine gun, just that he kept a loaded rifle, if I get it correctly. Sorry for my misreading!

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The fact that the footnotes go one page off half-way through the book is the fault of the publisher and a red herring. The bottom line here is that the notes do correspond to actual passages in the text.
This raises numerous questions about the use and manner of use of the Hemming story, only to qualify it as a "metaphor" in the notes. A metaphor of what?
A metaphor for the Angel Murgado story, wherein the involvement of Bobby's associates with Oswald supposedly silenced him. Besides that, you are being dishonest here when you say it is only qualified as a "metaphor" in the notes.

I don't believe that I'm the one being dishonest. Taking my above quote in context, it had nothing to do with Murgado, and the explicit quote from the book immediately preceding the segment quoted by Owen plainly demonstrates that:

The source note reads: "Hemming spins what amounts to a metaphor of a face-to-face meeting between Bobby Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald." This raises numerous questions about the use and manner of use of the Hemming story, only to qualify it as a "metaphor" in the notes. A metaphor of what?

My point about the metaphor is that the problems with the historicity of the book run far deeper than the source notes problem.

Sorry if I didn't quote your statement in full, but I want to keep my posts short. The segment from your post that you quote only bears out what I was saying. "[O]nly to qualify it as a 'metaphor' in the notes..." would amount to you saying that it is not identified as such in the main body of the text.

How does Mellen's use of a story that she clearly identifies as fictitious have any bearing on the historicity of the book?

Also, I never said your post was about Murgado, I am saying that that is what Mellen's use of the Hemming tale is in relation to. She uses it as a "metaphor" in regards to Bobby's supposed proximity to Oswald, and how this would supposedly silence him, all implications that she draws from Murgado's story.

Edited by Owen Parsons
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How does Mellen's use of a story that she clearly identifies as fictitious have any bearing on the historicity of the book?
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A few outstanding questions for Joan.

(1) Is it possible that Angelo Murgado mislead you during your research?

I have one single question for Joan Mellen, strictly concerning the footnotes to A Farewell to Justice. There does indeed seem to be something seriously wrong about halfway through the book, (in the footnotes section, they just do not seem to correspond to the material in the book.)

My concern is that there has been no acknowlegement of this by Joan Mellen, not to mention the fact that as someone who wants A Farewell to Justice to succeed as a valid historical accounting of material contained therein, I feel that the situation as described gives fuel to those who have an agenda aimed at discrediting the book for ulterior motives. Wouldn't offering a 'corrected' subsequent edition, be in order. I realize this might seem callous to Joan but 'Ultimate Sacrifice,' has to some degree been compromised over the fact that there is nothing to substantiate the author's assertions that AMWORLD was an 'in play operation' as opposed to simply one particular option under consideration, as well as the C-Day (Dec. 1, 1963 invasion date) assertion which appears to be equally lacking as far as part of a fluid historical record.

I for one, believe Joan Mellen's AFTJ offers a vital contribution to the record especially as the book is presented as a biography of Jim Garrison, and was never presented by the author as solving the JFK Assassination, but faces real damaging consequences for posterity if the footnotes 'problem' is not acknowledged by the author as well as some attempt on her part to rectify the situation, if for no other reason than to be used as a valid work historians can cite to hopefully, conclusively resolve the last pieces of the puzzle of November 22 in Dealey Plaza.

A couple of questions:

1. Do you have any more insights or information on Fred Crisman and his activities?

2. You state that Garrison would later come across information that would indicate that Oswald did indeed possess Ferrie's library card, but that it had been destroyed. Could you fill in the details?

Thanks for an excellent book!

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Is it possible that Angelo Murgado mislead you during your research?

I would like to say that unequivocally, Angelo Murgado did NOT MISLEAD ME. He was a reluctant witness. He spoke against his own interest. Every word he told me was true.

On the last point, whether Oswald WAS ALREADY THERE AT SYLVIA ODIO'S, OR THEY DROVE FROM NEW ORLEANS TOGETHER, if you will notice, I wrote "claimed." I cannot verify this unless I had Bernardo de Torres to confirm, as he is the other witness.

I am now writing a memoir of my investigation entitled "Dear Sherlock" which will have the time to discuss how I decided whether certain witnesses were credible or not.

But let me add this: ANGELO MURGADO IS AN HONEST MAN AND HE SPOKE OUT AFTER YEARS OF SILENCE. He told me the truth, without question. He did not wish to discuss these issues, I can assure you, and he had no motive to say anything but the truth. Let me add that in the case of some witnesses who are con men, they too cannot be dismissed as witnesses so easily although they have not lived lives within the law. Amateur historians would do well to consult homicide detectives on the question of the credibility of witnesses.

But Angelo Murgado was NOT one of these. I am confident in his veracity. Readers should be grateful that he has come forward to the degree that he has.

I have also since found three separate sources that confirm what Mr. Murgado told me with respect to Robert Kennedy, and I will put their testimony and documents into the paperback update.

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I have one single question for Joan Mellen, strictly concerning the footnotes to A Farewell to Justice. There does indeed seem to be something seriously wrong about halfway through the book, (in the footnotes section, they just do not seem to correspond to the material in the book.)

My concern is that there has been no acknowlegement of this by Joan Mellen, not to mention the fact that as someone who wants A Farewell to Justice to succeed as a valid historical accounting of material contained therein, I feel that the situation as described gives fuel to those who have an agenda aimed at discrediting the book for ulterior motives. Wouldn't offering a 'corrected' subsequent edition, be in order. I realize this might seem callous to Joan but 'Ultimate Sacrifice,' has to some degree been compromised over the fact that there is nothing to substantiate the author's assertions that AMWORLD was an 'in play operation' as opposed to simply one particular option under consideration, as well as the C-Day (Dec. 1, 1963 invasion date) assertion which appears to be equally lacking as far as part of a fluid historical record.

I for one, believe Joan Mellen's AFTJ offers a vital contribution to the record especially as the book is presented as a biography of Jim Garrison, and was never presented by the author as solving the JFK Assassination, but faces real damaging consequences for posterity if the footnotes 'problem' is not acknowledged by the author as well as some attempt on her part to rectify the situation, if for no other reason than to be used as a valid work historians can cite to hopefully, conclusively resolve the last pieces of the puzzle of November 22 in Dealey Plaza.

Regarding the footnotes: I hired a student to rationalize the notes with the pages, and there was a problem. The second printing corrected it. I'm sorry about that. There was so much new evidence at the end, and additions to the text, that the result was a problem with page numbers of the notes. The notes are all there, and I hope readers who have only the first edition will be patient and find them.

1. Do you have any more insights or information on Fred Crisman and his activities?

2. You state that Garrison would later come across information that would indicate that Oswald did indeed possess Ferrie's library card, but that it had been destroyed. Could you fill in the details?

I have nothing more on Fred Lee Crisman other than what I provide in the book. I have more material about Thomas Edward Beckham, however. This too will appear either in the next printing or the paperback.

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I have also since found three separate sources that confirm what Mr. Murgado told me with respect to Robert Kennedy, and I will put their testimony and documents into the paperback update.

Ms Mellen,

Since this is the most controversial part of your book could you tell us the three additional

sources who could back up Murgado?

Do you have an opinion on the assassination of Robert Kennedy? Do you think he was killed

by the same forces who killed Jack? Do you believe reports that he planned, as president,

to look into JFK's assassination?

Thank you,

Dawn

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  • 2 months later...

(1) Do you ever consider the possibility that your research into Jim Garrison would get you into trouble with those who have power and influence?

(2) Did you have any problems having A Farewell to Justice published?

(3) You tend to write about controversial subjects. Do you think this has harmed your career in any way? Have you ever come under pressure to leave these subjects alone?

(4) The House Select Committee on Assassinations reported that the “committee believes, on the basis of the available evidence, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy”. However, very few historians have been willing to explore this area of American history. Lawrence E. Walsh’s Iran-Contra Report suggests that senior politicians were involved in, and covered-up, serious crimes. Yet very few historians have written about this case in any detail? Why do you think that historians and journalists appear to be so unwilling to investigate political conspiracies?

(5) What is your basic approach to writing about what I would call “secret history”? How do you decide what sources to believe? How do you manage to get hold of documents that prove that illegal behaviour has taken place?

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