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Joan Mellen: A Farewell to Justice


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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.

Hi, Steve! 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.

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.

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.

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My question to Joan concerns whether she has explored the research indicating that when Oswald was in Mexico City that he was in the company of an individual named Steve or Larry Kennan, a Philadelphia Quaker whom Oswald allegedly met and associated with at Sanborns Restaurant next to the American Embassy in Mexico. It has been suggested by a JFK researcher named Bill Kelly that Keenan may be referred to in CIA documents as LICOZY-3 who is thought to have been a Philadelphia student who was recruited by the Soviets while in Mexico City. It is also speculated that the Quaker connection may tie in with Ruth Avery Paine and 5 listings in Oswalds notebook with Philadelphia addresses, which happens to be the headquarters for the Quaker community and which has ties to colleges such as the one's attended by Michael Paine and Priscilla MacMillan, whom also had ties to the World Federalists an organization founded by Cord Meyer- CIA/IO/DCD

Extremely interesting, but I do not know the answer re: Mexico City. I did not do original research on Oswald in Mexico City, alas.

Joan: just finished your book. Am heavily promoting it here in NYC. Bought ten copies for my 11th grade U.S. History Honors class. Forgot we were doing Andrew Jackson and the spoils system oops.

My question: do you see any parallels between the Kennedys end-run around the CIA with the Special Group and Bush's similar? end-run in 2003, when the neo-cons ran the Iraq intelligence out of the Pentegon?

Thank you very much for your interest in my book, Mr. Heidenheimer. I'm giving a lecture at the Ethical Culture Society in New York City on January 24th, 7 pm, 2 West 64th Street, off Central Park West. It would be a pleasure to meet you, and any of your students should it not be too late for them.

There is a very interesting dynamic between President Bush's conflicts with the CIA, and President Kennedy's. On the surface, it appears that President Bush has succeeded in taming the CIA, exactly what President Kennedy attempted to do, and which cost him his life. Yet: the political positions have been reversed. The political position of the CIA during President Kennedy's time - supported by the Pentagon, (what Jim Garrison called "the War Machine") was for a ground war, if not in Cuba, then, better yet, in Vietnam. That President Kennedy would not support that ground war, in large part because he was opposed to the deficit that would result, played a large role in his demise, along with his opposition to the extraordinary powers being exercised by the CIA. Students might be interested in the fact that President Eisenhower defined "national security" as, in part, avoiding a huge deficit and a bankrupted economy.

The CIA by the time of the current President had a policy much more similar to the cautious views of President Kennedy. It discovered that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and said so. It warned against a protracted Occupation in Iraq; it recognized that an American invasion in Iraq would result in a civil war....Because President Bush was furthering pro-war policies similar to those advanced by the CIA in President Kennedy's time, he shattered the CIA into the thousand pieces - exactly what President Kennedy had threatened to do. The clandestine service was eviscerated. The Director of Central Intelligence no longer was to meet with the President on a daily basis and a Director of National Intelligence was appointed. The Pentagon of course remains the same in its furthering the interests of what President Eisenhower warned against, the military-industrial complex.

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In her book Professor Mellen writes:

Gerry Patrick Hemming concurs: "Helms is [was?] behind the entire operation to kill JFK." (Ch. 10.)

I can find no cite to this statement, and Mr. Hemming vigorously denies making it to Professor Mellen (or anyone else, for that matter).

So my question for Professor Mellen is what is your support for Hemming ever blaming the assassination on Richard Helms?

I have Gerald Patrick Hemming on tape to the tune of boxes and boxes of tapes from our conversations. Yes, he cited Helms as behind the assassination - on tape with me in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He also cited Lawrence Howard as being in Dealey Plaza, and as a crackerjack shooter and sniper, although more recently he has denied that. This is a individual who has contradicted himself, as many authors and historians have noted. Note that I do not call him a witness.

The gloves are off at John McAdams' website. He has posted a negative review of AF2J by, you guessed it, Pat Lambert, who penned False Witness.

http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/mellen.htm

I look forward to Joan's response. :)

I believe that Patricia Lambert's distortions of the notebooks of Anne Dischler alone tell the story of the value of her book. Mrs. Dischler's continued dismay over Lambert's handling of her materials was reiterated to me last week in Louisiana. She called Lambert's work, for her, "a death", and mine, if I may say, I hope not immodestly, a "resurrection."

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(1) The most controversial aspect of your book is the inclusion of Angel Murgado’s testimony concerning the meeting at Sylvia Odio’s apartment. On reflection, do you think Murgado was telling you the truth?

(2) How close do you think Jim Garrison got to the truth concerning the events surrounding the assassination of JFK?

I believe that Jim Garrison uncovered a corner of the conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy. That's all Garrison himself claimed. He figured out who Oswald was. He knew Oswald was not pro-Castro, was not any kind of Marxist, but was an intelligence agent. He knew that Shaw was doing the Agency a favor. He did not have Shaw's CIA files that resided in CIA operations. We have those today. May I call your attention to the document cited in my book that shows that Guy Banister was cleared for project QKENCHANT? WHile Shaw's name does not appear on that document, that Shaw was the only person in New Orleans working under QKENCHANTcorroborates Allen Campbell's statement that Shaw and Guy Banister saw each other frequently.

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Congradulations on the publication of your new book, I know it is a difficult thing to do.

Thanks for pointing out the significance of Thomas Beckham.

Berckham asked you if Lt. Col. Lawrence Lowry is still alive.

Since Lowry was still alive when you talked with him, maybe that influences Beckham's story?

What did Lowry have to say?

Beckham asked me about Col. Lowry, but I don't believe his discussion was influenced at all by the fact that Col. Lowry is alive, or was. Col. Lowry confirmed Beckham's information about how Fred Crisman took him onto Offut Air Force Base. Colonel Lowry is important as a corroborative witness.

Colonel Lowry talked about how he was primarily interested in Thomas Edward Beckham as a singer, from whose singing he hoped to profit, and from that, of course, we can can draw our own conclusions.

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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.

That was one of the things that immediately jumped out at me while skimming through Ultimate Sacrifice at Barnes & Noble and turned me off to the book.

Anyway, I'm glad to see you've finally arrived.

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!

Edited by Owen Parsons
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Good to have you on the forum Joan. I have read your book twice now and I think it is the most important book in years. I am inclined to agree with you about Beckham, however there is one point where I am unconvinced--that would be your identification of Jack S. Martin with John J. Martin of the CIA. You refer to a number of documents, some recently released, but do not really quote enough from them to make your case that they were one and the same. Stephen Roy, who has seen most of them, thinks you are probably wrong. Could you post some of these documents, or excerpts from them, or at least elaborate on this point?

I haven't the time to post the documents, but they do reveal Jack of New Orleans phoning the CIA regularly, etc. THat he was CIA, there is scant question. L. J. Delsa and I both agree on that. Everyone Jack spent time with was CIA from Newbrough to Dalzell, not to mention Crisman. Whether he was "that" Jack Martin or another, may be confusing, I know. I will post the documents, but anything requiring me to go to the files won't be possible until February....

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In her book Professor Mellen writes: Gerry Patrick Hemming concurs: "Helms is [was?] behind the entire operation to kill JFK." (Ch. 10.) I can find no cite to this statement, and Mr. Hemming vigorously denies making it to Professor Mellen (or anyone else, for that matter). So my question for Professor Mellen is what is your support for Hemming ever blaming the assassination on Richard Helms?
I have Gerald Patrick Hemming on tape to the tune of boxes and boxes of tapes from our conversations. Yes, he cited Helms as behind the assassination - on tape with me in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

The footnoting/sourcing problem in Ms. Mellen's book is immediately apparent. As the reviewer quoted by Gerry observed, "about midway in the book, [the footnotes] do not correspond to the correct page...." As for my earlier questions about the evidence that General Walker was a visitor to Banister's office, there is no cited evidence whatsoever.

I have never before even heard it rumored that Guy Banister was shot. According to the book, "Allen Campbell says a single round shot came in through the window, and that Delphine Roberts was present.... Mary Banister called her friend Ruth Lichtblau in terror. 'Guy's been shot!' she said.... Allen Campbell says he knows who shot Guy Banister."

It's a wild claim to say that Harvey testified under oath that there was "White House approval and 'initiative' of the 'specific Rosselli operation' to murder Castro." I can't help but wonder why or how Prof. Mellen would assert that Oswald "would even appear at Francis Gary Powers' trial" in Moscow. (p. 165). The notes generally reference some other books about the U-2 incident with which I'm familiar, but I don't know of anything more than baseless speculation that Oswald was anywhere near Powers, let alone definitively appearing at his extremely public "show" trial.

I can't help but wonder what changed, such that Gerry decided, after years of interviewing with Joan Mellen, to e-mail her the assertion that CIA agent Steve Czukas arranged the Odio visit. Also, a direct confirmation from Gerry that he personally witnessed personal contact between Oswald and RFK would be helpful in determining what to make of Mellen's tome.

Professor Mellen claims that Robert F. Kennedy was organizing his own plans to assassinate Castro, independent of the CIA plans! Is anyone aware of any support for that premise?
Angelo Murgado says, repeat says, that Oswald was there when he arrived. This is attributed to him, not to me. He is on the record as saying Oswald was already there. So I must say he says that is what happened.... HE SAYS..... Fairness decreed that I give his side of the story. So I added the attribution: HE CLAIMS. HE SAYS.
Joan Mellen's concept of fairness and accuracy is eluding me. Historical writing has no room for generating antecdotes the author doesn't establish as being at least minimally credible. Fairness does not decree that any particular side of a story be told, regardless of how bona fide or unsupported. And if the enabling qualifier is to include with the attributions such phrases as "he claims" or "he says," what is a reader to make of the degree of such qualifications applied to our own Gerry Hemming? Words like "Hemming spins," "Hemming imagines," "Hemming postulates" and "Hemming colors" do not engender the confidence of the reader.

From pages 201-202: "Gerald Patrick Hemming tells a tale that might serve as a metaphor to explain Bobby's conundrum. Without corroboration, offering none, Hemming spins a story of Bobby choppering from Palm Beach to a training facility near Homestead Air Force base. There, Hemming imagines, Bobby met with Cubans, many of them Bay of Pigs veterans, who were part of his Special Group. According to Hemming, among the Cubans that day stood one Lee Harvey Oswald.... Hemming postulates that Bobby greeted these Cuban men who considered themselves patriots so that they would know that this time, unlike the Bay of Pigs, the highest authority was backing them....[shades of the Cubela request for a meeting with RFK] The scene may or may not have taken place as Hemming colors it."

While I believe that Professor Mellen trashes Gerry Hemming's credibility, she still used his claims about Bobby Kennedy to develop an impression that isn't supported without the inclusion of those claims. If she thought his story not worthy of being taken "seriously," she should have just left it out. She shouldn't both use and abuse it. Otherwise, she needed to include James Files and Judyth Baker in the book.

What is the source for the declarative assertion that Oswald was in Florida in the summer of 1963?
I assume you are refering to Hemming's tale for Oswald being in Florida. Again, this is not treated as true and is not supposed to be taken that way by the reader. If I'm wrong about the source, give me a citation.
On the same page (201) that Professor Mellen says that Hemming "tells a tale ... spins a story ... imagines," etc., she does say: "According to Hemming, among the Cubans that day [in the presence of RFK] stood one Lee Harvey Oswald, even as independent corroboration does indeed place Oswald in Miami that summer of 1963." It's hard to tell if Professor Mellen does or does not believe the evidence to indicate if Oswald was actually in Florida in the summer of 1963.
Regarding the Odio visit, the notes show Gerry being interviewed on the matter on April 19, 2002, yet not coming up with the assertion that "Czukas arranged for the Odio visit" until more than two years later, on May 31, 2004. How can anyone read this and come away with any confidence about what is believable and what is not?

Describing Angelo Murgado, there is this sentence: "Material possessions hold no appeal, and service, neither to the CIA nor to Robert F. Kennedy, brought him no riches." Ouch! It is an absurd assertion that the criticism of Professor Mellen's book is standard CIA disinfo. One doesn't have to be a CIA agent to recognize a double negative. And this from a professor who teaches creative writing? The book appears not to have even been proofread.

T.C.

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I have never before even heard it rumored that Guy Banister was shot. According to the book, "Allen Campbell says a single round shot came in through the window, and that Delphine Roberts was present.... Mary Banister called her friend Ruth Lichtblau in terror. 'Guy's been shot!' she said.... Allen Campbell says he knows who shot Guy Banister."

Whether you have heard it rumored or not is pretty irrelevant, as Mellen cites her sources (who would be in a position to know). If you choose to disbelieve them that is your prerogative, but it has no bearing on Mellen's use of citations.

It's a wild claim to say that Harvey testified under oath that there was "White House approval and 'initiative' of the 'specific Rosselli operation' to murder Castro."

I don't know how you can call this a "wild claim." Mellen cites and quotes from the appropriate source (which is not the one Gratz was claiming Mellen used).

I can't help but wonder why or how Prof. Mellen would assert that Oswald "would even appear at Francis Gary Powers' trial" in Moscow. (p. 165). The notes generally reference some other books about the U-2 incident with which I'm familiar, but I don't know of anything more than baseless speculation that Oswald was anywhere near Powers, let alone definitively appearing at his extremely public "show" trial.

From Weberman's site:

On February 15, 1962, OSWALD wrote this to Robert Edward Oswald: "I heard over the Voice of America that they released Francis Gary Powers the U-2 spy plane fellow. that's big news where you are, I suppose. He seemed to be a nice, bright, American-type fellow, when I saw him in Moscow."

The CIA commented: "The only period during which it would have been reasonably possible for OSWALD to have seen Francis Gary Powers in Moscow in person was between August 17, 1960 and August 19, 1960, when Francis Gary Powers was in Moscow, undergoing trial. There are no other indications that OSWALD was in Moscow after January 1960, so OSWALD'S statements remain unclarified."

Its not totally definitive, but its very far from being baseless.

Edited by Owen Parsons
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I have never before even heard it rumored that Guy Banister was shot.
Whether you have heard it rumored or not is pretty irrelevant, as Mellen cites her sources (who would be in a position to know). If you choose to disbelieve them that is your prerogative, but it has no bearing on Mellen's use of citations.
It's a wild claim to say that Harvey testified under oath that there was "White House approval and 'initiative' of the 'specific Rosselli operation' to murder Castro."
I don't know how you can call this a "wild claim." Mellen cites and quotes from the appropriate source (which is not the one Gratz was claiming Mellen used).
I can't help but wonder why or how Prof. Mellen would assert that Oswald "would even appear at Francis Gary Powers' trial" in Moscow. (p. 165).
From Weberman's site: On February 15, 1962, OSWALD wrote this to Robert Edward Oswald: "I heard over the Voice of America that they released Francis Gary Powers the U-2 spy plane fellow. that's big news where you are, I suppose. He seemed to be a nice, bright, American-type fellow, when I saw him in Moscow." The CIA commented: "The only period during which it would have been reasonably possible for OSWALD to have seen Francis Gary Powers in Moscow in person was between August 17, 1960 and August 19, 1960, when Francis Gary Powers was in Moscow, undergoing trial. There are no other indications that OSWALD was in Moscow after January 1960, so OSWALD'S statements remain unclarified." Its not totally definitive, but its very far from being baseless.

1. I request clarification about the assertion that Banister was shot to death as Professor Mellen relates;

2. I would request that Professor Mellen post and/or quote verbatim the document that shows that Harvey testified that the White House approved a "specific Rosselli operation;" and

3. Despite Owen's admission that Oswald's attendance at the Powers show trial is "not totally definitive," Professor Mellen made the assertion without qualification or specific attribution (she definitely did not cite Weberman). Most of the speculation on this subject has involved Powers' own assertion that people would occasionally look into his cell through a slit and that perhaps Oswald could have been among them.

T.C.

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3. Despite Owen's admission that Oswald's attendance at the Powers show trial is "not totally definitive," Professor Mellen made the assertion without qualification or specific attribution (she definitely did not cite Weberman). Most of the speculation on this subject has involved Powers' own assertion that people would occasionally look into his cell through a slit and that perhaps Oswald could have been among them.

T.C.

Might not Oswald have seen Powers on TV? The Russians did have television in 1960, did they not? I would bet that Russian TV had Powers on the news every night, as his very existence gave their government a raison d'etre. Powerful propaganda, shooting an enemy from the sky and putting him on trial, as opposed to locking him up in a cement house.

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Might not Oswald have seen Powers on TV? The Russians did have television in 1960, did they not? I would bet that Russian TV had Powers on the news every night, as his very existence gave their government a raison d'etre. Powerful propaganda, shooting an enemy from the sky and putting him on trial, as opposed to locking him up in a cement house.

If he had just seen him on T.V., it would seem more natural for Oswald to simply say so and leave out extraneous details like where Powers was when he saw him.

Edited by Owen Parsons
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Might not Oswald have seen Powers on TV?
If he had just seen him on T.V., it would seem more natural for Oswald to simply say so and leave out extraneous details like where Powers was when he saw him.

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?"

T.C.

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Might not Oswald have seen Powers on TV?
If he had just seen him on T.V., it would seem more natural for Oswald to simply say so and leave out extraneous details like where Powers was when he saw him.

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?"

T.C.

At the trial (which seems to square better with Oswald's phraseology), of course. If anything, he would get a better sense of Powers' character there than from T.V. spots.

Edited by Owen Parsons
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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.

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