Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions on the JFK Assassination: (Pt. 7): The HSCA Investigation

Why was the House Select Committee on Assassinations launched and who headed it? What general standards did they apply?

The HSCA emerged partly as a result of the widespread discontent with the Warren Commission and the demands to launch a real government  investigation independent of a biased presidential commission – when that commission itself had been compromised. (LBJ stood to benefit if indeed he had any role in passively cooperating to gain power, and his control, especially via appointments,  meant no other investigations – whether state, federal or otherwise could be started at the same time.)

The HSCA also likely grew out of the somewhat earlier (and slightly overlapping)  Church investigation of the intelligence agencies, and the massive outcry that arose when it was revealed how much leeway they had to interfere in our way of life. The Church Committee and its findings in fact prompted passage of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which purpose had been to eliminate domestic spying, for example by the CIA and NSA. This had been law up until the legislation was gutted via a 2011 re-do that legalized warrantless wiretaps by the Bush administration.

Originally heading the HSCA was a former Philadelphia prosecutor named Richard A. Sprague, and Robert K. Tanenbaum a brilliant prosecutor out of New York. Sprague, by contrast to the palsied, compromised Warren fiasco, at once set out strict guidelines, including:
-        No one would be hired connected to the FBI, CIA or any federal agency and gave the reason that “to do a thorough investigation, those agencies’ actions had to be part of the investigation” (Probe interview with R. Sprague, Jan-Feb, 2000, p. 17)

-        He vowed to “delve deeply into the methods of the FBI and CIA” (ibid.)

Did the Intelligence agencies /National Security state interfere as they did in the Warren Commission?
Indeed they did. As soon as the CIA got wind of Sprague’s criteria for investigation top Spook Richard Helms began to lobby the Kennedy family not to cooperate. They mostly ignored him.
As exists today, however, there were quislings, traitors and enablers in the midst of setting things up. For example, Rep. Henry Gonzalez – a Chairman of the Committee- just told the CIA to “ignore” the subpoenas issued by Sprague.  When the CIA demanded “security checks” on everyone, Sprague refused.  Tanenbaum was blunt: “I’ll be damned if they’ll investigate us before we investigate them” (op. cit.,)
The CIA retaliated by marshaling its media assets mainly via “Operation Mockingbird” since over 50 CIA plants were already embedded in assorted news organizations including The New York Times (Watergate investigator Carl Bernstein estimated 10 there) as well as The Washington Post. Few people are aware of these connections. Kathryn S. Olmstead in her book, Challenging the Secret Government’,1996, University of North Carolina Press, page 21, notes:
"Washington Post Editor Ben Bradlee’s brother-in-law was covert operations Chief Cord Meyer  and Post publisher Phil Graham was a close friend of another covert operations chief, Frank Wisner. “
Meanwhile, the Sulzbergers (New York Times) “socialized with  CIA Directors Allan Dulles, John McCone and Richard Helms". More to the point, the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird was an ongoing project that kept any unwanted revelations off the radar.
The CIA also marshaled its congressional assets, probably resorting to blackmail or other nefarious devices. One of the CIA charges was that Sprague was  “trampling on people’s rights” – the same charge made against Jim Garrison in his own investigation.

Tanenbaum was notable in excavating a CIA document – an internal memo from Richard Helms’ office – that revealed how the CIA had followed, harassed and attempted to intimidate Jim Garrison’s witnesses.
What happened to Sprague?

As one might imagine, Sprague’s stone cojones terrified the National Security state and its overweening enablers, congressional sycophants, stooges and hangers-on.  Thus, no surprise he was forced to resign. He was replaced by G. Robert Blakey a CIA toady and “expert in organized crime” who was the one responsible for incepting the idiotic “Mafia did it” meme. (Any sensible person with any intellectual heft – who investigated this case- knew damned well the Mafia lacked the power to cover up and destroy evidence, including JFK’s suit coat, disassembling, cleaning and rebuilding the  limo, and absconding with the brain – found missing after the autopsy)
Blakey’s first step was to cut a deal with the CIA. In this deal, none other than CIA "Information and Privacy Coordinator"  Jim Lawderman – on July 27, 1977- wrote out the terms of the CIA’s control of Blakey’s investigation. (Mellen, J., ‘Farewell to Justice’, p. 345).  One of the terms cited was (ibid.):
Certain areas relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy should be entirely disregarded based upon our contention they are without merit or corroboration” (ibid.)
Thus, the CIA was effectively judging the evidence even before there was any. This statement in many ways is as glaring and outrageous as the terms of the document NSC-68 paving the way for perpetual war. It also explains key anomalies in the HSCA  investigation.
What were some of the anomalies revealed in the HSCA Investigation?
There were a number of them, each of which diluted the impact of the overall investigation and included:
-        David Atlee Phillips’ lies and manipulation tactics.  HSCA investigator Gaeton Fonzi is abundantly clear regarding the tactics of David Atlee Phillips (The Last Investigation, p. 336):
“David Atlee Phillips, former Chief of the Western Hemisphere Division of the CIA, lied under oath to the House Select Committee – and he got away with it. In its final report the Committee slipped in that fact obliquely, relegating it to a footnote. This was a devious way to cover its ass; it also illustrated the Committee’s readiness to dismiss evidence that would contradict its final report. That it disregarded Phillips' perjury confirms the Committee's tacit decision not to pursue the truth 'wherever it might lead' - especially if it headed toward the CIA. Chief Counsel Blakey had, after all, a' working agreement' with the Agency."

The last point makes it especially confounding to read Blakey's words (reported ca. 2001)  about being incensed at Joannides for “obstructing our investigation” , when the liar and perjurer Atlee Phillips was equally guilty.  Fonzi goes on to emphasize Phillips import (op. cit., p. 336):
David Phillips represented the most crucial investigative link ever developed between the Central Intelligence Agency and the assassination of President Kennedy."
-        The conclusion that the head (kill) shot came from the Texas School Book Depository despite the HSCA’s own acoustic tests which showed it originated on the grassy knoll (also corroborated by the Parkland surgeon’s own testimony and the actual autopsy photos.)  Thus, the weird attempt of the HSCA to "square the circle" - finding for conspiracy while retaining the original Warren Commission location for the head shot's origin. (See FAQ, Pt. 5 on why exactly it doesn't work)

-        The entry of the National Academy of Science team (under Norman Ramsey) to dispute and question the original findings of the MIT acoustics team – which traced 4 impulses and one to the grassy knoll – could have been at the instigation of the CIA to discredit the original finding, and thereby the original HSCA conspiracy finding. (They found it 95% probable)
- Major security breaches occurred right under the nose of the HSCA  investigation. Blakey attributed it to 'curiosity' but even to a naive defender, that’s stretching things.
Blakey subsequently called the FBI on being notified of one incident involving the autopsy photos, and they took fingerprints. Analysis disclosed a print belonging to one Regis Blahut, the CIA's security representative.  Evidently, Blahut was resolute in denying he had anything to do with it but, after three consecutive polygraph test failures, Blahut blurted to a reporter[1]:
"There are other things involved that are detrimental to other things."
Blahut's words could have been an oblique reference to the cold-blooded black ops hit on William Bruce Pitzer (Head of the Audio-Visual Unit of Bethesda Naval Hospital,) who had access to an original, unedited 16 mm film of the autopsy, as well as 35 mm slides of same, in 1966.
This is noted by Pitzer's associate, Petty Officer Dennis David, who worked with him at the Film Unit, in the video 'The Men Who Killed Kennedy', Pt. 6 of the Nigel Turner BBC series. (See also the book on the Pitzer Incident: Without Smoking Gun by Kent Heiner.  Interviewed, Mr. David noted that three or four days after the assassination, Pitzer had shown him in his office.
-   a 16mm film of the autopsy

-  Slides: including tissue slides and also slides showing JFK while on the table at the morgue
David pointed out two slides specifically, one of which clearly showed a small hole in the upper temple, and the other a large gaping hole in the back of the head. In his words:

"The wound was a frontal entry wound, opposed to what the Warren Commission said."
It makes sense then that if this evidence became available it would point the finger at government for complicity in the Pitzer hit, and Blahut’s job was to see that didn’t occur.
The total collective of misfires, obfuscations, manipulations and misdirection prompted HSCA Investigator Gaeton Fonzi, to write [2]:

So again, our government slapped the American people in the face. We have been slapped in the face over and over and over again and we still deny it is happening to us. Why?”

Why indeed would such severe impediments be imposed to prevent an honest and forthright investigation as Richard Sprague wanted?
The obvious reason is that there was way too much at stake for the ones that killed Kennedy – a clandestine branch of our own government, embedded in the CIA. Most likely run out of CIA Staff D and the ZR/Rifle program – then mutated into Executive Action against Kennedy. People can toss up hands and put fingers in ears and sing “lalalala’ all they want but there it is! Why else forge such consistent impediments against an open investigation? The only reason would be to protect the interests, people that did it – and  who up to now have gotten away with it, including the murder of dozens of key witnesses any time a trail was revived for an investigation.  Don’t believe me? Then  look at Richard Charnin’s stats of witnesses killed around and at the time of the HSCA investigation:
So in this sense, Fonzi is spot on correct. The clandestine interests that did it have absolutely no desire for the American people to find out. They want to keep them in La-la land believing a lone nut – who they groomed to be the decoy – was the one responsible.

Do you think there will ever be a genuine investigation that for once forges ahead and refuses to accept the defects of earlier inquires?

Well, let me put it this way: In today’s hyper-National Security state (since 9/11)  where spooks are into everything we read, see online and communicate, that has about as much chance occurring as extraterrestrials landing from Zeta Reticuli and hauling all the spooks away!  In other words, don’t hold your breath. The national security state now rules with an iron fist and all supposed leaders can do is ask “How high?” when ordered to jump.


[1] Fonzi, op. cit., p. 219.

[2] Gaeton Fonzi: 1993, The Last Investigation, Thunders Mouth Press, p. 410.

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