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Oliver Stone's JFK


John Simkin
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The web is full of articles attacking Oliver Stone's JFK. However, you might not have read Sam Smith's Why they Hate Oliver Stone, that was published in The Progressive Review in February 1992.

In a hysterical stampede unusual even for the media herd, scores of journalists have taken time off from their regular occupations -- such as boosting the Democrats' most conservative presidential candidate, extolling free trade or judging other countries by their progress towards American-style oligopoly -- to launch an offensive against what is clearly perceived to be the major internal threat to the Republic: a movie-maker named Oliver Stone.

Stone, whose alleged crime was the production of a film called JFK, has been compared to Hitler and Goebbels and to David Duke and Louis Farrakhan. The movie's thesis has been declared akin to alleged conspiracies by the Freemasons, the Bavarian Illuminati, the League of Just Men and the Elders of Zion.

The film has been described as a "three hour lie from an intellectual sociopath." Newsweek ran a cover story headlined: "Why Oliver Stone's New Movie Can't Be Trusted." Another critic accused Stone of "contemptible citizenship," which is about as close to an accusation of treason as the libel laws will permit. Meanwhile, Leslie Gelb, with best New York Times pomposity, settled for declaring that the "torments" of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson over Vietnam "are not to be trifled with by Oliver Stone or anyone."

The attack began months before the movie even appeared, with the leaking of a first draft of the film. By last June, the film had been excoriated by the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, and Time magazine. These critics, at least, had at least seen something; following the release of the film, NPR's Cokie Roberts took the remarkable journalistic stance of refusing to screen it at all because it was so awful.

Well, maybe not so remarkable, because the overwhelming sense one gets from the critical diatribes is one of denial, of defense of non-knowledge, of fierce clinging to a story that even some of the Stone's most vehement antagonists have to confess, deep in their articles, may not be correct.

Stephen Rosenfeld of the Washington Post, for example, states seven paragraphs into his commentary: "That the assassination probably encompassed more than a lone gunman now seems beyond cavil."

If there was more than one gunman, it follows that there was a conspiracy of some sort and it follows that the Warren Commission was incorrect. It should follow also that journalists writing about the Kennedy assassination should be more interested in what actually did happen than in dismissing every Warren Commission critic as a paranoid. Yet, from the start, the media has been a consistent promoter of the thesis that Rosenfeld now says is wrong beyond cavil.

In fact, not one of the journalistic attacks on the film that I have seen makes any effort to explain convincingly what did happen in Dallas that day. They either explicitly or implicitly defend the Warren Commission or dismiss its inaccuracy as a mere historic curiosity.

Of course, it is anything but. Americans, if not the Washington Post, want to know what happened. And after nearly thirty years of journalistic nonfeasance concerning one of the major stories of our era, a filmmaker has come forth with an alternative thesis and the country's establishment has gone berserk.

Right or wrong, you've got to hand it to the guy. Since the 1960s, those trying to stem the evil that has increasingly seeped into our political system have been not suppressed so much as ignored. Gary Sick's important new book on events surrounding the October Surprise, for example, has not been reviewed by many major publications. The dozens of books on the subject of the Kennedy assassination, in toto, have received nowhere near the attention of Stone's effort. For the first time in two decades, someone has finally caught the establishment's attention, with a movie that grossed $40 million in the first three or four weeks and will probably be seen by 50 million Americans by the time the videotape sales subside.

Further, by early January, Jim Garrison's own account of the case was at the top of the paperback bestseller list and Mark Lane's Plausible Denial had made it to number seven on the hard cover tally. Many of Stone's critics have accused him of an act of malicious propaganda. In fact, it is part of the sordid reality of our times that Hollywood is about the only institution left in our country big and powerful enough to challenge the influence of state propaganda that controls our lives with hardly a murmur from the same journalists so incensed by Stone. Where were these seekers of truth, for example, during the Gulf Massacre? Even if Stone's depiction were totally false, it would pale in comparison with the brutal consequences of the government's easy manipulation of the media during the Iraqi affair.

And, if movies are to be held to the standards set for JFK, where are the parallel critiques of Gone With the Wind and a horde of other cinemagraphic myths that are part of the American consciousness?

No, Stone's crime was not that his movie presents a myth, but that he had the audacity and power to challenge the myths of his critics. It is, in the critics' view, the job of the news media to determine the country's paradigm, to define our perceptions, to give broad interpretations to major events, to create the myths which guide our thought and action. It is, for example, Tom Brokaw and Cokie Roberts who are ordained to test Democratic candidates on their catechism, not mere members of the public or even the candidates themselves. It is for the media to determine which practitioners of violence, such as Henry Kissinger and Richard Helms, are to be statesmen and which, like Lee Harvey Oswald and James Earl Ray, are mere assassins. It is their privilege to determine which of our politicians have vision and which are fools, and which illegal or corrupt actions have been taken in the national interest and which to subvert that interest. And this right, as Leslie Gelb might put it, is not to be trifled with by Oliver Stone or anyone else.

Because he dared to step on the mythic turf of the news media, Stone has accomplished something truly remarkable that goes far beyond the specific facts of the Kennedy killing. For whatever errors in his recounting of that tale, his underlying story tells a grim truth. Stone has not only presented a detailed, if debatable, thesis for what happened in Dallas on one day, but a parable of the subsequent thirty years of America's democratic disintegration. For in these decades one finds repeated and indisputable evidence - Watergate, Iran-Contra, BCCI, the war on drugs, to name just a few - of major politicians and intelligence services working in unholy alliance with criminals and foreign partisans to malevolently affect national policy. And as late as the 1980s, we have documentation from the Continuity in Government program that at least some in the Reagan administration were preparing for a coup d'état under the most ill-defined conditions.

It is one of contemporary journalism's most disastrous conceits that truth can not exist in the absence of revealed evidence. By accepting the tyranny of the known, the media inevitably relies on the official version of the truth, seldom asking the government to prove its case, while demanding of critics of that official version the most exacting tests of evidence. Some of this, as in the case, say, of George Will, is simply ideological disingenuousness. Other is the unconscious influence of one's caste, well exemplified by Stone critic Chuck Freund, a onetime alternative journalist whose perceptions changed almost immediately upon landing a job with the Washington Post, and who now writes as though he was up for membership in the Metropolitan Club. But for many journalists it is simply a matter of a childish faith in known facts as the delimiter of our understanding.

If intelligence means anything, it means not only the collection of facts, but arranging them into some sort of pattern of probability so we can understand more than we actually know.

Thus the elementary school child is inundated with facts because that is considered all that can be handled at that point. Facts at this level are neatly arranged and function as rules to describe a comfortable, reliable world.

Beginning in high school, however, one starts to take these facts and interpret them and put them together in new orders and to consider what lots of facts, some of them contradictory, might mean. In school this is not called paranoia, nor conspiracy theory, but thought.

Along the way, it is discovered that some of the facts, a.k.a. rules, that we learned in elementary school weren't facts. I learned, for example, that despite what Mrs. Dunn said in 5th grade, Arkansas was not pronounced R-Kansas.

Finally, those who go to college learn that facts aren't anywhere as much help as we even thought in high school, for example when we attempt a major paper on what caused the Civil War.

To deny writers, ordinary citizens or even filmmakers the right to think beyond the perimeter of the known and verifiable is to send us back intellectually into a 5th grade world, precise but inaccurate, and - when applied to a democracy - highly dangerous. We have to vote, after all, without all the facts.

As Benjamin Franklin noted, one need not understand the law of gravity to know that if a plate falls on the floor it will break. Similarly, none of us have to know the full story of the JFK assassination to understand that the official story simply isn't true.

Oliver Stone has done nothing worse than to take the available knowledge and assemble it in a way that seems logical to him. Inevitably, because so many facts are unknown, the movie must be to some degree myth.

Thus, we are presented with two myths: Stone's and the official version so assiduously guarded by the media. One says Kennedy was the victim of forces that constituted a shadow government; the other says it was just a random event by an lone individual.

We need not accept either, but of the two, the Stone version clearly has the edge. The lone gunman theory, (the brainstorm of Arlen Specter, whose ethical standards were well displayed during the Thomas hearings) is so weak that even some of Stone's worst critics won't defend it in the face of facts such as the nature of the weapon allegedly used (so unreliable the Italians called it the humanitarian rifle), the exotic supposed path of the bullet, and Oswald's inexplicably easy return to the US after defecting to the Soviet Union.

In the end, David Ferrie in the movie probably said it right: "The f***king shooters don't even know" who killed JFK. In a well-planned operation it's like that.

I tend to believe that Stone is right about the involvement of the right-wing Cubans and the mobs, that intelligence officials participated at some level, that Jim Garrison was on to something but that his case failed primarily because several of his witnesses mysteriously ended up dead, and that a substantial cover-up took place. I suspect, however, that the primary motive for the killing was revenge - either for a perceived détente with Castro or for JFK's anti-Mafia moves, and that Stone's Vietnam thesis is overblown. The top level conspiracy depicted is possible but, at this point, only that because the case rests on too little - some strange troop movements, a telephone network failure and the account of Mr. X - who turns out albeit to be Fletcher Prouty, chief of special operations for the Joint Chiefs at the time.

But we should not begrudge Stone if he is wrong on any of these points, because he has shown us something even more important than the Kennedy assassination: an insight into repeated organized efforts by the few to manipulate for their own benefit a democracy made too trusting of its invulnerability by a media that refuses to see and tell what has been going on.

Just as the Soviets needed to confront the lies of their own history in order to build a new society, so America must confront the lies of the past thirty years to move ahead, Stone - to the fear of those who have participated in those lies and to the opportunity of all those who suffered because of them - has helped to make this possible.

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I am grateful for Stone's JFK, if only because several of my friends, who prior to seeing the movie thought Norm was just a little 'odd', asked me to suggest books after they had seen the movie. I think it raised the awareness of the general public a great deal. Despite the nits that the CT community picked at, the movie is closer to the truth than most of the public had realized.

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While the movie JFK was indeed a "counter-myth" to the WC's mere "myth," the book was the real deal, with tons of footnotes showing that this "counter-myth" was created from fact. That so many in the media responded to JFK by claiming that Stone was making stuff up from whole cloth, or was somehow embellishing the truth, is the scariest part of all: it showed that virtually no one in the mainstream media CARED enough about the truth to follow the developments in the case; it showed that virtually NONE of these supposedly well-read men had read On The Trail of the Assassins, Crossfire, or anything written by Fletcher Prouty--the three main sources for Stone's script. If they'd read these works and found them lacking, they should have said so in their articles. That they did not revealed their laziness and their bias. I mean, how could Stone make a movie based on what the media found acceptable, if the members of the media don't READ or DO THEIR HOMEWORK. Was it Stone's responsibility to "dumb down" his work to make it more palatable to those who had NO REAL INTEREST in its subject matter? Is it an artist's responsibility to make his paintings attractive to those whose heads are stuck in the sand, or someplace equally dark and warm, and refuse to pull them out?

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A couple of friends who used to work at "America's Super Station' were sure that they had identified the CIA spook at their workplace. He was there to ensure 'correctness' in time of national emergency. He also new about the Reagan assasination attempt over an hour before it hit the media, which is real interesting as he was employed by the media.

One starts to wonder if every major media outlet has their assigned spook, hence the enormous media smeer campaign against JFK.

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A couple of friends who used to work at "America's Super Station' were sure that they had identified the CIA spook at their workplace. He was there to ensure 'correctness' in time of national emergency. He also new about the Reagan assasination attempt over an hour before it hit the media, which is real interesting as he was employed by the media.

One starts to wonder if every major media outlet has their assigned spook, hence the enormous media smeer campaign against JFK.

I reckon by itself JFK is a good movie. It was a major factor in motivating me, and by many accounts so also for many. I have the DVD with directors commentary which I listen to as often as seeing the whole movie. And I think the commentary towards the end is perhaps a clue. In the beginning Oliver makes a clear statement about artistic licence.

At the end he makes a personal statement that elaborates on Costners summing up speech sentence " ...a little further west'. What he says amounts to a call for revolution. The statement 'though the heavens might fall' is I believe from a longer writing from around the time of declaration of independence? It basically also says 'if the government is no good, get rid of it. by arms if necessary.'

This and his other work such as 'Commandante' would have definitely put him on the 'outer' back in the good ole days of Joe. The CIA and the FBI would prob have gotten the nod to assassinate him not just in character.

Which is really what this is about. The movie as a work of the art stands by itself. It's Oliver they are targeting.

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The article is a fine critique of Stone's critics. The journalistic paradigm that truth can't exist without revealed evidence is relevant to assassination research. This sham has been used by apologists of the Government coverup to deride researchers for years.

Interesting that Sam also mentions the war on drugs as one of the examples of America's democratic disintegration. The war on drugs is an obscene exercise in global mendacity, IMO.

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Regarding John Dolva's post where he quotes the statement from Garrison to the effect let justice prevail though the heavens might fall is interesting. It is certainly possible that the assassination was not adequately investigated out of exactly the concern that a complete investigation might cause the heavens to fall. Rightly or wrongly, LBJ convinced Earl Warren that if a full-fledged investigation led to the conclusion there was a foreign-based conspiracy there might be a cataclysmic nuclear exchange. One cannot conceive of anything closer to the falling of the heavens than the raining of nuclear bombs across the United States and the Soviet Union.

Let us assume that LBJ was not a conspirator and that he was face with evidence hinting at a foreign conspiracy. (Whether any of that evidence was genuine or whether it was all planted is immaterial to my argument.) Let us further assume that he was correct that proof of a foreign conspiracy would either likely or possibly trigger a world war. He faced the decision whether to "cover up" and let the conspirators go free (if there was found to be a conspiracy and regardless of who the conspirators were) or to have a full-fledged investigation which might lead to the annihilation of forty million Americans.

Under that scenario, did LBJ act correctly in not "letting justice be done"?

I would offer this methaphor (right word?). Obviously LBJ (if innocent) was unaware of all the possible conspirators. Let us assume that if he opened the door to show the face of the assassin he might find: a) Sam Giancana; :rolleyes: E. Howard Hunt; c) a Texas oil baron; or d) Nikita Khruschev. Before he opens the door, he has no idea who he will find behind it. But he is certain if he finds Nikita behind the door, forty million American lives will be lost. He is also certain if he does not open the door, justice will not be done.

If he could consult with the ghost of JFK, what do you think JFK would advise him?

There may or may not have been foreign involvement in the assassination. But surely it was the fear of such involvement that fueled the cover-up. Even if LBJ himself was involved, there is no question that he used the fear of a war to persuade Earl Warren to participate.

Garrison, I submit, got it wrong. That would be clear if his famous quotation were restated thusly: Let justice be done even if should cost the lives of forty million innocent Americans.

Let's take yet another example. Let us assume an evil killer, the most evil one can imagine, has taken hostage an eight year old girl and he is threatening to kill her unless the lawmen surrounding him let him go, at least temporarily. The lawmen know that if they temporarily let him go, he might permanently escape and justice may fail. They also know that if they rush him there is the likelihood an innocent eight year old will be killed. The death of an innocent eight year old, as tragic as it is, must pale in comparison with "the heavens falling". LBJ (if himself innocent) and Earl Warren knew they were playing with the lives of millions of young children when they decided (as I think they did) to "let justice fail".

Note my argument does not depend on whether there was in fact a foreign conspiracy; whether the evidence pointing to a foreign conspiracy was genuine (but misleading); or whether all such evidence was cleverly planted by the true conspirators. All that matters is that LBJ (if innocent) and Earl Warren knew of sufficient evidence to conclude that a full investigation might lead to a nuclear catastrophe.

And if indeed there was a foreign conspiracy, the decision to "cover up" might indeed have saved forty million American lives (let alone the lives of innocent Russians and Cubans).

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Regarding John Dolva's post where he quotes the statement from Garrison to the effect let justice prevail though the heavens might fall is interesting. It is certainly possible that the assassination was not adequately investigated out of exactly the concern that a complete investigation might cause the heavens to fall. Rightly or wrongly, LBJ convinced Earl Warren that if a full-fledged investigation led to the conclusion there was a foreign-based conspiracy there might be a cataclysmic nuclear exchange. One cannot conceive of anything closer to the falling of the heavens than the raining of nuclear bombs across the United States and the Soviet Union.

Let us assume that LBJ was not a conspirator and that he was face with evidence hinting at a foreign conspiracy. (Whether any of that evidence was genuine or whether it was all planted is immaterial to my argument.) Let us further assume that he was correct that proof of a foreign conspiracy would either likely or possibly trigger a world war. He faced the decision whether to "cover up" and let the conspirators go free (if there was found to be a conspiracy and regardless of who the conspirators were) or to have a full-fledged investigation which might lead to the annihilation of forty million Americans.

Under that scenario, did LBJ act correctly in not "letting justice be done"?

I would offer this methaphor (right word?). Obviously LBJ (if innocent) was unaware of all the possible conspirators. Let us assume that if he opened the door to show the face of the assassin he might find: a) Sam Giancana; :rolleyes: E. Howard Hunt; c) a Texas oil baron; or d) Nikita Khruschev. Before he opens the door, he has no idea who he will find behind it. But he is certain if he finds Nikita behind the door, forty million American lives will be lost. He is also certain if he does not open the door, justice will not be done.

If he could consult with the ghost of JFK, what do you think JFK would advise him?

There may or may not have been foreign involvement in the assassination. But surely it was the fear of such involvement that fueled the cover-up. Even if LBJ himself was involved, there is no question that he used the fear of a war to persuade Earl Warren to participate.

Garrison, I submit, got it wrong. That would be clear if his famous quotation were restated thusly: Let justice be done even if should cost the lives of forty million innocent Americans.

Let's take yet another example. Let us assume an evil killer, the most evil one can imagine, has taken hostage an eight year old girl and he is threatening to kill her unless the lawmen surrounding him let him go, at least temporarily. The lawmen know that if they temporarily let him go, he might permanently escape and justice may fail. They also know that if they rush him there is the likelihood an innocent eight year old will be killed. The death of an innocent eight year old, as tragic as it is, must pale in comparison with "the heavens falling". LBJ (if himself innocent) and Earl Warren knew they were playing with the lives of millions of young children when they decided (as I think they did) to "let justice fail".

Note my argument does not depend on whether there was in fact a foreign conspiracy; whether the evidence pointing to a foreign conspiracy was genuine (but misleading); or whether all such evidence was cleverly planted by the true conspirators. All that matters is that LBJ (if innocent) and Earl Warren knew of sufficient evidence to conclude that a full investigation might lead to a nuclear catastrophe.

And if indeed there was a foreign conspiracy, the decision to "cover up" might indeed have saved forty million American lives (let alone the lives of innocent Russians and Cubans).

Tim,

You're asking history to "assume" LBJ was not a conspirator in order to accommodate this theory?

My response is that LBJ wanted history to believe he was willing to forgo bringing his beloved leader's murderers to justice in order to save 40 million lives. What gallantry.

Your argument can also be employed to support the adverse view--that the spectre of 40 million potential casualties was enough to frighten off any serious investigation of the crime. "Assuming" the conspirators were not Soviet bloc countries, then wouldn't this be a most cunningly concieved stratagem?

Finally and most obviously, why would the Soviet bloc conspire to kill a President who obviously wanted peace and take their chances with the man once described as "Senator for the Pentagon"?. No assumptions required there.

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Mark, respectfully, my argument was simply that perhaps it was best that justice fail than to risk the fall of the heavens: the possible eradication of life on earth.

My argument need not necessarily assume LBJ was innocent. Certainly Earl Warren accepted the view that it was better to let justice fail than to risk the wrath of the heavens.

And I thought I made it clear that the argument about a possible nuclear war could have indeed been a clever stratagem by the conspirators. Still, without knowing it was a stratagem, LBJ (if innocent) and Earl Warren, not knowing of the strategem, concluded, rightly I think, that it was better not to risk a nuclear exchange than to explore possible evidence of a foreign conspiracy.

But I will go you one better: let us assume the following scenario. Let us assume that LBJ was innocent, and that he knew the evidence of a foreign conspiracy might indeed be "planted" evidence by the true conspirators. Let us assume further that he in fact believes the chance is as good as even that the evidence is fake. To continue with my door analogy, he knows that there is at least a 50% chance that if he opens the door he will find Sam Giancana, or E. Howard Hunt, or a Texas oil baron, behind the door, smoking gun in hand, with proof that he faked the evidence pointing to Soviet involvement. But he also knows the chance is 50% that if he opens the door he might find Nikita. I submit that even if he knew there was a substantial chance that Nikita was being framed, he dared not test that hypothesis lest it be proven false.

My point was simply that LBJ (if innocent) and Earl Warren might very well have made a conscious decision to let justice fail rather than risk the unthinkable consequences of a possible foreign conspiracy. And that that decision, while it may seem horrible given the calm vantage point of being forty plus years removed, may very well have been the only sane one given the circumstances at the time. As the saying goes it is difficult to replace the lid on a Pandora's box.

I would also suggest that Robert F. Kennedy had reasons of his own to prefer that justice fail rather than having the heavens fall. And I further submit that RFK himself would have prefered letting his brother's killers escape rather than risking the consequences of a nuclear exchange.

I would really challenge someone to argue the position that justice required a complete investigation if that investigation involved even a 1/3rd chance of the destruction of life on this planet. Unfortunate as it is, the killers probably escaped justice because the consequences were simply too awful to contemplate. It was in one sense a similar calculus to what JFK faced during the missile crisis.

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.

But I will go you one better: let us assume the following scenario. Let us assume that LBJ was innocent, and that he knew the evidence of a foreign conspiracy might indeed be "planted" evidence by the true conspirators. Let us assume further that he in fact believes the chance is as good as even that the evidence is fake. To continue with my door analogy, he knows that there is at least a 50% chance that if he opens the door he will find Sam Giancana, or E. Howard Hunt, or a Texas oil baron, behind the door, smoking gun in hand, with proof that he faked the evidence pointing to Soviet involvement. But he also knows the chance is 50% that if he opens the door he might find Nikita. I submit that even if he knew there was a substantial chance that Nikita was being framed, he dared not test that hypothesis lest it be proven false.

I would really challenge someone to argue the position that justice required a complete investigation if that investigation involved even a 1/3rd chance of the destruction of life on this planet. Unfortunate as it is, the killers probably escaped justice because the consequences were simply too awful to contemplate. It was in one sense a similar calculus to what JFK faced during the missile crisis.

Tim,

This just gets so damn old. I have been away from this forum a couple of weeks and so when I return I look at the JFK film thread. But here we go again, old Timmie when you're not pushing Castro did it, it's Niita, and the "Save the planet from nuclear war" LIE JBJ employed to sucker Earl Warren into authoring the most dishonest document in the history of this country.

Is there not one single thread you don't inject this nonsense into?

I could be like John and just not read your posts....that worked well for me....

And Tim : Most serious researchers disagree with you : Garrison DID NOT "get it wrong".

Have you read Destiny Betrayed? Do you plan to get Joan Mellen's new book? (I have it on order at amazon). Will your anti Garrison views change after some education I wonder, or are you just so blind that

nothing will budge you from your need to believe in a foreign conspiracy killing JFK. That's the problem with the rabid right: they are totally blind to the true workings of our government, imho.

Dawn

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Regarding John Dolva's post where he quotes the statement from Garrison to the effect let justice prevail though the heavens might fall is interesting. It is certainly possible that the assassination was not adequately investigated out of exactly the concern that a complete investigation might cause the heavens to fall. Rightly or wrongly, LBJ convinced Earl Warren that if a full-fledged investigation led to the conclusion there was a foreign-based conspiracy there might be a cataclysmic nuclear exchange. One cannot conceive of anything closer to the falling of the heavens than the raining of nuclear bombs across the United States and the Soviet Union.

...............

Tim I can't help feeling a bit concerned by how you put together your arguments. By stringing together the first four sentences here, a lazier reader, (of which I often am one) might, by not referring to the full text of what I wrote, infer that I support your thesis re foreign involvement. A reading of what I wrote shows that exactly the opposite is true.

I feel that this, if it is not an innocent belief that this is some sort of 'debating' club, where anything goes, and not a public murder investigation (which is what it is), is a deliberate attempt to obfuscate and divide, and therefrom derive some sort of advantage or even 'thrill'.

While I defend your right to be here, I'm not comfortable with some of your 'debating' techniques. They do (to paraphrase from another post) 'waste time'. In this instance, having noted you doing this sort of things on a number of occasions over the months I've been attending this forum, my natural inclination to let such things be, is overridden. I have in the past attempted first to message my concern, however as you didn't allow messages, I'm posting instead.

Edited by John Dolva
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Dawn, Clay Shaw was the CIA's agent to kill Kennedy but when he was arrested the CIA left him hanging out to dry, destitute after paying his legal bills. Right!!

FYI it was the FBI and Justice Department that did the most to disrupt Garrison's investigation--not the CIA. And the disruption was in large part orchestrated by RFK's close aide Walter Sheridan.

Also FYI I have already read Professor Mellen's book. but I am not free to comment on it until its release date.

And my point, whicch you do not seem to dispute, is that it was not only morally defensible but almost morally required for Warren to prevent an investigation that might have led to a nuclear war. It of course makes no difference whatsoever to my argument if your position is correct that LBJ knew it was not a foreign conspiracy but only used that as a ploy to con Earl Warren.

Can you read? I do not argue here that it was IN FACT a foreign conspiracy. Merely that there was evidence sufficient to convince LBJ (if he was innocent) or Earl Warren that there might be.

Let me attempt to restate my point. If by "the heavens falling" what is meant is a nuclear war that would have killed millions of innocent Americans and Russians, then the only morally defensible choice was to let justice fail to prevent that awful scenario. Our society had a great interest in the solution to the Kennedy assassination, greater really than that of the Kennedy family. (One can argue that in one sense society's interest in justice is greater than that of any victim of a crime.) But the society's greater interest was its self-preservation. And I bet that even the Kennedy family would have agreed that it was better to let his killers escape justice than to risk a nuclear war.

Let me also make a different but related point. A full investigation would have necessarily resulted in the revelation of the CIA's sophisticated surveillance operations in Mexico City, techniques that I assume were used against our enemies in many other cities as well. Had those surveillance techniques been disrupted, our national security could indeed have been dangerously impacted. That fact in and of itself may have been sufficient to warrant only a limited investigation.

My basic point is that Garrison's famous quotation (whatever its source) "Let justice be done though the heavens may fall" is, philosophically wrong. Even apart from the Kennedy case, one can easily suggest situations where it is better to let justice fail than to have the heavens fall. Heck, you are a criminal lawyer. You know that there are many situations where the preservation of a guilty defendant's constitutional rights is considered so important by our society that our courts exclude clear evidence of guilt if it was obtained through a violation of the defendant's constitutional rights (the so-called exclusionary rule). In such cases, our society has determined that in that and other similar cases it is better to let the guilty go free than to "let the heavens fall" (in my analogy, permitting the abridgement of constitutional rights). Is there not an entire panopoly of criminal justice policies that contemplate that it is often necessary in individual cases to let justice fail in an individual case to support an even more important societal consideration?

The fact that I disagreed with Garrison's rhetoric in this case ought not be interpreted as a full-fledged attack on Garrison's methods or motives (which you clearly do). In fact, I betcha if pressed Garrison himself would have agreed with me that in certain situations society has justifiable policy considerations that are more important than "justice" in a particular case (where "justice" is narrowly defined as the conviction of the guilty; the sense in which Garrison was using the phrase vis a vis the Kennedy case).

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To John, I certainly did not mean to imply that you supported the thesis of foreign involvement in the assassination. I am sorry if I offended you.

As my reply to Dawn should have made clear, my post was not premised on the actuality of foreign involvement. My only point is that if there was indeed substantial evidence that there might have been a foreign conspiracy, coupled with a concern that if proved to be the case, a nuclear war might occur, that was adequate reason for Earl Warren to support a cover-up.

Oswald's apparent contact with Kostikov was sufficient evidence in itself to suggest foreign involvement (unless one knew that was part of a different game, which Warren certainly did not, even if LBJ did).

There are several scenarios that are possible here:

1) There was indeed a foreign conspiracy (but Oswald's contact with Kostikov might have had nothing to do with it and it may not have been Oswald himself who was in contact with Kostikov).

2) Might as well lay out all the possible cenarios: There was no foreign conspiracy. Oswald was, as the WC suggested, a "lone nut" and any evidence suggesting a foreign conspiracy was simply co-incidental.

3) Oswald was working on some plot for a US intelligence organization. In that case, some of the possible evidence suggesting a foreign conspiracy was the result of the "Oswald operation". The operation had nothing to do with the assassination, so certain people in government knew there was no foreign conspiracy but they feared the consequences of the revelation of what Oswald was in fact up to. (If, for instance, the Oswald operation was part of yet another plan to kill Castro, its revelation would hgave led to the discovery of those terrible secrets.) Hence some people in the government justified a cover-up even knowing there was no foreign conspiracy. But this knowledge was not shared with Earl Warren.

4) The evidence linking Oswald to a foreign conspiracy was all planted by evil conspirators motivated by a desire to use Oswald's links with Cuba to justify an invasion of Cuba.

5) The evidence linking Oswald to a foreign conspiracy was all planted by evil conspirators not necessarily motivated by a desire to use Oswald's links with Cuba to justify an invasion of Cuba but rather to use it to persuade and justify a cover-up to LBJ (if innocent) and Earl Warren.

Hopefully the above covered most of the possibilities, anyway.

For purposes of my argument, it matters not whether the evidence linking Oswald to a foreign conspiracy was a) real; :plane coincidental; or c) planted. All that matters is that Earl Warren was aware of the evidence and could not conclude that none of it was real. Hence his tears when LBJ used the war scenario to convince him he had to preside over an investigated motivated from the outset to prove that Oswald was a lone gunman.

Again, sorry, John, I was not trying to imply you had any possible belief in a foreign conspiracy. But even those who believe the evidence suggesting a foreign conspiracy was "planted" ought to understand why Earl Warren, given his limited knowledge at the time, could not dismiss the possibility of a foreign conspiracy and all the terrors that might release.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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To John, I certainly did not mean to imply that you supported the thesis of foreign involvement in the assassination. I am sorry if I offended you.

As my reply to Dawn should have made clear, my post was not premised on the actuality of foreign involvement. My only point is that if there was indeed substantial evidence that there might have been a foreign conspiracy, coupled with a concern that if proved to be the case, a nuclear war might occur, that was adequate reason for Earl Warren to support a cover-up.

Oswald's apparent contact with Kostikov was sufficient evidence in itself to suggest foreign involvement (unless one knew that was part of a different game, which Warren certainly did not, even if LBJ did).

There are several scenarios that are possible here:

1) There was indeed a foreign conspiracy (but Oswald's contact with Kostikov might have had nothing to do with it and it may not have been Oswald himself who was in contact with Kostikov).

2) Might as well lay out all the possible cenarios: There was no foreign conspiracy. Oswald was, as the WC suggested, a "lone nut" and any evidence suggesting a foreign conspiracy was simply co-incidental.

3) Oswald was working on some plot for a US intelligence organization. In that case, some of the possible evidence suggesting a foreign conspiracy was the result of the "Oswald operation". The operation had nothing to do with the assassination, so certain people in government knew there was no foreign conspiracy but they feared the consequences of the revelation of what Oswald was in fact up to. (If, for instance, the Oswald operation was part of yet another plan to kill Castro, its revelation would hgave led to the discovery of those terrible secrets.) Hence some people in the government justified a cover-up even knowing there was no foreign conspiracy. But this knowledge was not shared with Earl Warren.

4) The evidence linking Oswald to a foreign conspiracy was all planted by evil conspirators motivated by a desire to use Oswald's links with Cuba to justify an invasion of Cuba.

5) The evidence linking Oswald to a foreign conspiracy was all planted by evil conspirators not necessarily motivated by a desire to use Oswald's links with Cuba to justify an invasion of Cuba but rather to use it to persuade and justify a cover-up to LBJ (if innocent) and Earl Warren.

Hopefully the above covered most of the possibilities, anyway.

For purposes of my argument, it matters not whether the evidence linking Oswald to a foreign conspiracy was a) real; :plane coincidental; or c) planted. All that matters is that Earl Warren was aware of the evidence and could not conclude that none of it was real. Hence his tears when LBJ used the war scenario to convince him he had to preside over an investigated motivated from the outset to prove that Oswald was a lone gunman.

Again, sorry, John, I was not trying to imply you had any possible belief in a foreign conspiracy. But even those who believe the evidence suggesting a foreign conspiracy was "planted" ought to understand why Earl Warren, given his limited knowledge at the time, could not dismiss the possibility of a foreign conspiracy and all the terrors that might release.

Ok,no worries Tim, contrary to the moniker 'jfk debate', it obviously isn't.

Perhaps hitting a mental 'pause' before clicking 'post' is in order. (it often is for me).

I'd go so far as to say that even the idea of a conspiracy involving any foreign issue can be credibly argued against. ie. : the idea that it was an anti castro plot. The cause can be found entirely within the American populace/system. I've been looking back on the 'atmosphere' of America in late 62. In a very short space of time the average person had to assimilate the berlin war, nuclear arms, oxford mississippi, bay of pigs, riots, King, Malcolm X, Evers, by far the coldest winter this century (which I contend for a religious wrongly educated person could have been seen as a sign), debate about the UN, and a whole lot of mindshaking events coming hard and fast. This all could very well make certain individuals highly malleable for suggestion. So individuals with an economic reson in the American power structure would not have had to look far for willing participants in a plot.

That those individuals may have believed that they were doing this for a cause concerning foreign issues is just icing on the cake.

I think that the missile crisis had shown that there were effective ways of strong diplomacy sans the use of atomic bombs. In fact I wonder whether it could be seen as a way of excerting enormous pressure on the Communist Bloc, who also would not like to b e annihilated, and perhaps would willingly participate in a coverup, by for example claiming a rouge element amongst itself and accepting concessions that could see america far better off.

I think the fear that would be felt regarding internal strife would have been much greater.

Edited by John Dolva
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