Friday, November 22, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions on the JFK Assassination (Pt. 10): The Media Complicity in Coverup, Gerald Posner & Vince Bugliosi

1. How has the media affected our perception of the assassination?

In his book,  America Besieged (p. 140)  Michael Parenti devotes an entire chapter to Media Manipulation.  Among the many methods elaborated, by which the corporate mainstream media projects the dominant ideology, are (ibid.):

- Suppression by omission

- Attack and destroy the target

- Labeling

- Face-value transmission

- Framing

In the first, the media omit key or relevant facts from discussion, or fail to connect the existing facts to their reasoning. For example, this morning the author of the book JFK- End of Days, was asked if there could have been anyone involved in the assassination besides Lee Oswald. He said emphatically 'No!' but then described Jackie moving over the rear of the limo trunk to try to snatch a fragment of her husband's skull.  The latter, of course, totally shows the laws of physics at work in the case of linear momentum transfer - such that a bullet's momentum, driving a piece of skull backwards, means the shot had to have come from the front.  But the author never made any connection or reference to it, or the physical meaning.

Another example of media manipulation- embodying the remaining tactics -  appeared on NBC’s Today during the week of Aug. 8,  2002. Entitled 'Truth or Conspiracy', the manipulation began from the outset by framing the title as a false dichotomy. By posing it as truth OR conspiracy, the implicit message was that conspiracy was untruth, or lie: The logical effect of such a subtext was to drive the viewer away from conspiracy by regarding it as the polar opposite of truth. If one had truth, then conspiracy was mutually exclusive with it, or so NBC would have had us believe, totally reinforcing Michael Parenti’s point that the mainstream corporate media depicts it as imaginary despite the fact people have been prosecuted for it!

In the NBC segments, John McAdams was the sole person appearing along with some of his (Marquette University) students who mainly played the role of willing dupes.  In the segments,  McAdams masterfully labeled those he disagreed with ('buffs')  while also framing conspiracies as essential nonsense or lack of knowledge.  It was a superb exhibition of media complicity at work.
The upshot is that our national media is devoted only to fake objectivity through a distorted lens. Nowhere is this more evident than in political elections which the media consistently turn into a “horse race” or they trivialize them in other ways. Our government panders mainly to corporations, who give money for campaigns, and ignores average citizens. Lacking knowledge of the forces that killed JFK, these trends can only be reinforced as the corporate information tentacles metastasize.
2. How can these media tendencies be explained?

One major clue we have is provided by Katherine S. Olmstead in her book, 'Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI', 1996, Univ. of North Carolina Press. Olmstead pointedly notes (page 21):

"According to the (1978) Church committee's final report, approximately fifty U.S. Journalists had covert relationships with the CIA, about half of which involved money. Watergate investigative reporter Carl Bernstein charged that the total number of U.S. journalists who worked for the CIA was actually much higher. In a controversial article in 'Rolling Stone'.

Bernstein claimed that more than 400 American journalists secretly carried out assignments for the CIA from the early 1950's to the mid-1970's. The 'New York Times' alone, Bernstein insisted, provided cover for ten CIA officers from 1950 to 1966"

Further (ibid.):

"Even when a newspaper or network did not have a formal relationship with the CIA, the agency could still have close ties and mutual interests with its reporters and editors- Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee's brother-in-law was covert operations chief Cord Meyer; Post Publisher Phil Graham was a close friend of another covert operations agent,  Frank Wisner."
And there we have it: The Post was not only in bed with operatives of the CIA, they (in all probability) followed the Agency's party line directive for dealing with critics of the Warren Report - as laid out in CIA document 1035-360. Why else over react so violently over a film (JFK) even recruiting nabobs like George Will  to write piffle when their forte isn't history at all!

Recall also that Don de Lillo's superb novel 'LIBRA' - also a fictitious portrayal of the Kennedy assassination- was skewered by critic Paul Gray in a review ('Reimagining Death in Dallas') published in TIME (Aug. 1, 1988).   The sad truth is that centers of power and elite overclass interests immensely fear a fully conscious public as opposed to a deluded, false conscious one.

3. What is Operation Mockingbird and could the media's biased posture be associated with it?

Absolutely!  This was a CIA-instigated operation during the 1960s-70s  to infiltrate the media with CIA contacts to divert or manipulate discussion, information on sensitive topics (such as the Kennedy assassination). In fact the book by Olmstead (previous section) likely summarizes key aspects of it.  In this way, seemingly coordinated fronts would be generated in the media to make it seem they all agree on critical discussion points. I.e. Was there a conspiracy? Of course not! Oswald did it! Case Closed! We have the forensic evidence, etc.

To see a Youtube video on 'Mockingbird', with open admissions,  go to:

Thanks to the Church Committee, Mockingbird was exposed though when people see the same propaganda in the current media mutation they seldom make the connection to what went before.(They should recall how the shameless media all acted as cheerleaders  for the Bushite  Iraq invasion and war back in 2003!)

Author Michael Parenti ( America Besieged,  Dirty Truths ) has perhaps done the most to expose the insidious nature of conspiracy phobia that resides in elite American culture, mainly in the mainstream media, and its halls of power.  Two particular chapters, ‘Is Conspiracy Only a Theory?’ in the first book, and ‘Conspiracy Phobia on the Left’ in the second, hold the clue to why even some liberals like Tom Hanks, Rachel Maddow, Marilyn Elias et al run from the c-word. Parenti makes no bones about the fact that “most people suffer from conspiracy phobia” and “they treat anyone who investigates conspiracy as a conspiracy buff or oddball." Of course, "most people" to which he refers are mainly members of the media and political class - always bound by conformity to "official" narratives- lest they be tagged as "non-objective" or "loony".

Parenti notes if the claimed conspiracy hasn’t been validated to their satisfaction, it’s merely a theory (which they erroneously equate with speculation), but if it was validated, as in Watergate, then ‘Voila!’ it’s no longer theory but an actuality!  But this is essential nonsense. As Parenti observes, it means that “conspiracy can never be proven and if proven it can’t be conspiracy”.

Parenti concludes all conspiracies are thereby relegated to “the realm of the imaginary”. Real conspiracies (proven so), meanwhile, shuck off the c-word label and become another, different breed of historical reality.
We are reminded here of the foremost rule of propaganda and brainwashing as enunciated by the master of mind- mashing, Edward Bernays:
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government, which is the true ruling power of our country.”
This prescription clearly underlies the persistent media efforts to drive the American public to accept one version of the Kennedy assassination and no other.

4. What About Gerald Posner? Didn't his 'Case Closed' answer all questions?
 Let me put it this way: If it had, why would Vince Bugliosi have found it necessary to write a 2,500-plus page cinderblock of  book to 'Reclaim History'? Unfortunately for Posner, people did read his book, not to satisfy themselves that he’d closed the case, but to assess just how closely Posner adhered to the known facts. One of the earliest scrutinizing efforts was The Posner Report- A Study in Propaganda: One Hundred Errors in Gerald Posner’s Case Closed – Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK by David Starks. Starks draws on the published reports and documents of true experts like Peter Dale Scott, Dr. Gary Aguilar and Martin Shackelford. The Report skewers Posner’s claims and effectively discloses a hack who made “hundreds of errors” in his pell-mell rush to judgment.
5. So how much did Posner get wrong?
A lot!  The Electronic Assassination Newsletter which collates the research from most JFK Assassination experts documents twelve of the most serious “Posnerisms” here:

Those who take the time to examine, study the examples in the link will become aware of an unnerving lack of attention to detail and a penchant for what appears to be deliberate misrepresentation. Indeed, Posner’s entire case appears to be erected on a tissue of lies, misrepresentations, gross distortions and shoddy methodology, the mass of which can’t even redeem it as coincidental. Despite that, he remains the official “hit man” to use against conspiracy “buffs” by the corporate media to knock down anything that remotely smacks of conspiracy.
Harrison Livingstone, a long time researcher, described Posner’s book as: "a fatally flawed, intellectually dishonest effort”.
Meanwhile, Prof. David R. Wrone, whose review of Case Closed appeared in The Journal of Southern History, notes:

Posner often presents the opposite of what the evidence says. In the presentation of a corrupt picture of Oswald’s background- for example – he states that, under the name of Osborne, Oswald picked up leaflets he distributed from the Jones Printing Company and that a ‘receptionist’ identified him. She in fact said that Oswald did not pick up the leaflets as the source that Posner cites indicates. “

He adds:   No credible evidence connects Oswald to the murder. All the data that Posner presented to do so is either shorn of context, corrupted, the opposite of what the sources actually say, or non-sourced.
And further:

Posner crowns his theory with the certainty of science by using one side of the computer-enhanced studies by Failure Analysis Associates of Menlo Park that his text implies he commissioned. The firm, however, lambastes his use as a distortion of the technology that it developed for the American Bar Association’s mock trial of Oswald where both sides used it.”

Not surprisingly, many ordinary researchers as well as professionals (e.g. Harold Weisberg) contend Posner is likely a disinformation hack, possibly for the CIA, and perhaps even part of its notorious “Operation Mockingbird” propaganda machine which infected the U.S. Media from the 1970s. Most importantly, Posner’s book neatly aligns itself with CIA Document 1035-960 (See Appendix) with its mandate to counter criticism of the Warren Report using “propaganda assets”.

In the meantime one is left to ponder how a person such as Posner could have gained so much influence and gravitas. The best answer I can arrive at is that offered by Curtis White, author of The Middle Mind. Posner, then, has proven skillful and adept at doing exactly what the corporate media PR mavens and their CIA associates demand: manage the “Middle Mind” and prevent it from veering too far off the established tracks, as defined by the Warren Commission’s parameters.

6. So is Posner now 'damaged goods' - never to appear again?


Hardly! He will be appearing with Vince Bugliosi - I understand - on some farce called "The Definitive Guide to the Kennedy Assassination"  on the History Channel. Posner, incredibly, is also afforded gravitas by being quoted (p.15) in a recent (Winter, 2013) issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report, in an article ('Conspiracy Act') by a Marilyn Elias. She not only provides cover to the lying Posner but criticizes the well-validated surgical alteration of Kennedy's wounds (see my FAQ Pt. 5) and the similarly exposed role of Ruby. In this way even the so-called progressive media becomes part of the 'unspeakable' described by author James Douglass. In so doing, she plays directly into the hands of the propagandists as a willing dupe. All I can say here, is that anyone who watches the History HD farce and seriously believes it's the "definitive guide" will likely need to sign up for a future episode of The Walking Dead. As one of the zombies!Ditto for anyone who takes the SPLC bunkum seriously.
7. What of Vince Bugliosi? What he did get wrong? What is he advocating?
Let me take the last question first: Bugliosi is none other than a shill for the Warren Whitewash Commission which I exposed in my FAQ - parts 4a and 4b. Readers can consult these and see what they think. If they agree the Warren Commission and its Report are legit - after reading through them carefully - there's nothing more I can say.
As for the amount of items Bugliosi got wrong, they are too voluminous to recount here in one FAQ segment, and too much to expect the casual blog reader to confront. However, the interested reader who wants to delve into the errors can consult any of these links:

My main complaint is that Bugliosi's book amounts to one long ad hominem. It veers into it even when discussing evidence. When I took my first college Logic course, one of the things we were instructed to look out for was “ad hominem” in parsing arguments.  That is, attacking the sources as opposed to the arguments. Bugliosi commits this in spades, for example,  writing :

(p. 1258) " ... simple common sense, that rarest of attributes among conspiracy theorists ... " , 

 p. 1275: "But conspiracy theorists are not rational and sensible when it comes to the Kennedy assassination." 

 (p. 1277) " ... silliness is what all of the conspiracy allegations are about ... "

Sadly, Bugliosi’s penchant for ad hominem doesn’t end with the critical conspiracy community – authors but extends to key witnesses and others (e.g. Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden) trying to fight for the truth. For example, Bugliosi refers to the courageous African-American woman Aquilla Clemmons (who pointedly noted that a heavyset man shot Officer J.D. Tippitt, not Oswald) as a “kook”. He dismisses the first African-American Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden as a "liar", though it beggars the imagination to think Bolden would actually put himself in the way of a long prison sentence merely to tell tall tales.

But is Bugliosi rational? Anyone who commits the level of errors, conflations, ad hominem we behold in his work must question such an assumption.  But what really gets the discriminating reader annoyed are the multifold LIES. In his chapter on Cyril Wecht, ‘A Conversation with Dr. Cyril Wecht’, Bugliosi concluded by insisting that Wecht:
 “demonstrated there is no credible evidence whatsoever that any shots were fired from the president’s right side or right front” adding that “the conspiracy theorists’ main forensic expert cannot even hypothesize a shooting from the right side or right front that is intellectually feasible.”

But in fact, Wecht can and DID! (In the video documentary 'The Single Bullet Theory')  Moreover he did it in meticulous detail including using anatomical sketches, and diagrams sowing the putative single bullet’s path and why it couldn’t work. In addition,

Wecht hasn’t budged from this position since that documentary was completed ca. 1993! Indeed, when Wecht was confronted with Bugliosi’s words (‘Last Word’, 2011, by Mark Lane, p. 153) he responded that Bugliosi’s words were “inexplicable” since Wecht had:

 “stated to Bugliosi that all the relevant evidence – including the medical evidence, the x-rays of the president that he had examined and the statements of the physicians, had long ago convinced him that a shot had been fired from the grassy knoll area.”
So why didn’t Bugliosi faithfully report Wecht’s words instead of lying about them and yes, distorting them? Because to do so would not have served his agenda of holding up the Warren Commission Report as the “Holy Grail” of the assassination and the last word! However, this misstep, like the hundreds of Gerald Posner in his ‘Case Closed’ – merely shows both to be in the service of disinformationists, most likely the CIA who in their own document 1035- 960 (marked ‘Psych’ for psychological warfare operations) clearly state under Sec. 3(b) ‘Propaganda assets’:

But Bugliosi's lies even veer into the most generic arenas. Bugliosi (p. 1003) insists that one of the first critical authors of the Warren Commission , Mark Lane, never mentioned in his book Rush to Judgment, that Oswald had been arrested. Bugliosi’s exact words are: “He doesn’t even mention Oswald’s arrest”.

Bugliosi must not think many readers have access to his book (which I finally located at a Colorado Springs library last year) or Lane’s, but he’s wrong. When I checked my copy of Lane’s book I found (p. 81) not only the details of the place of arrest but the time and the words “Oswald was arrested in the Texas Theater at approximately 1.50 p.m. that day” but other confirmations.

The question that emerges is: If Bugliosi can lie with impunity about even a minor pro forma (generally accepted) event as concerns the critical pro-conspiracy community, how many larger events would he be prepared to misrepresent in the interest of his propaganda?
APPENDIX: CIA Document 1035-960

CIA Document #1035-960
RE: Concerning Criticism of the Warren Report:

1. Our Concern. From the day of President Kennedy's assassination on, there has been speculation about the responsibility for his murder. Although this was stemmed for a time by the Warren Commission report, (which appeared at the end of September 1964), various writers have now had time to scan the Commission's published report and documents for new pretexts for questioning, and there has been a new wave of books and articles criticizing the Commission's findings. In most cases the critics have speculated as to the existence of some kind of conspiracy, and often they have implied that the Commission itself was involved. Presumably as a result of the increasing challenge to the Warren Commission's report, a public opinion poll recently indicated that 46% of the American public did not think that Oswald acted alone, while more than half of those polled thought that the Commission had left some questions unresolved. Doubtless polls abroad would show similar, or possibly more adverse results.

2. This trend of opinion is a matter of concern to the U.S. government, including our organization. The members of the Warren Commission were naturally chosen for their integrity, experience and prominence. They represented both major parties, and they and their staff were deliberately drawn from all sections of the country. Just because of the standing of the Commissioners, efforts to impugn their rectitude and wisdom tend to cast doubt on the whole leadership of American society. Moreover, there seems to be an increasing tendency to hint that President Johnson himself, as the one person who might be said to have benefited, was in some way responsible for the assassination.

Innuendo of such seriousness affects not only the individual concerned, but also the whole reputation of the American government. Our organization itself is directly involved: among other facts, we contributed information to the investigation. Conspiracy theories have frequently thrown suspicion on our organization, for example by falsely alleging that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for us. The aim of this dispatch is to provide material countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists, so as to inhibit the circulation of such claims in other countries. Background information is supplied in a classified section and in a number of unclassified attachments.

3. Action. We do not recommend that discussion of the assassination question be initiated where it is not already taking place. Where discussion is active [business] addresses are requested:
a. To discuss the publicity problem with [?] and friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors), pointing out that the Warren Commission made as thorough an investigation as humanly possible, that the charges of the critics are without serious foundation, and that further speculative discussion only plays into the hands of the opposition. Point out also that parts of the conspiracy talk appear to be deliberately generated by Communist propagandists. Urge them to use their influence to discourage unfounded and irresponsible speculation.

b. To employ propaganda assets to [negate] and refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose. The unclassified attachments to this guidance should provide useful background material for passing to assets. Our ploy should point out, as applicable, that the critics are (I) wedded to theories adopted before the evidence was in, (I) politically interested, (III) financially interested, (IV) hasty and inaccurate in their research, or (V) infatuated with their own theories. In the course of discussions of the whole phenomenon of criticism, a useful strategy may be to single out Epstein's theory for attack, using the attached Fletcher [?] article and Spectator piece for background. (Although Mark Lane's book is much less convincing that Epstein's and comes off badly where confronted by knowledgeable critics, it is also much more difficult to answer as a whole, as one becomes lost in a morass of unrelated details.)
4. In private to media discussions not directed at any particular writer, or in attacking publications which may be yet forthcoming, the following arguments should be useful:
a. No significant new evidence has emerged which the Commission did not consider. The assassination is sometimes compared (e.g., by Joachim Joesten and Bertrand Russell) with the Dreyfus case; however, unlike that case, the attack on the Warren Commission have produced no new evidence, no new culprits have been convincingly identified, and there is no agreement among the critics. (A better parallel, though an imperfect one, might be with the Reichstag fire of 1933, which some competent historians (Fritz Tobias, AJ.P. Taylor, D.C. Watt) now believe was set by Vander Lubbe on his own initiative, without acting for either Nazis or Communists; the Nazis tried to pin the blame on the Communists, but the latter have been more successful in convincing the world that the Nazis were to blame.)

b. Critics usually overvalue particular items and ignore others. They tend to place more emphasis on the recollections of individual witnesses (which are less reliable and more divergent--and hence offer more hand-holds for criticism) and less on ballistics, autopsy, and photographic evidence. A close examination of the Commission's records will usually show that the conflicting eyewitness accounts are quoted out of context, or were discarded by the Commission for good and sufficient reason.

c. Conspiracy on the large scale often suggested would be impossible to conceal in the United States, esp. since informants could expect to receive large royalties, etc. Note that Robert Kennedy, Attorney General at the time and John F. Kennedy's brother, would be the last man to overlook or conceal any conspiracy. And as one reviewer pointed out, Congressman Gerald R. Ford would hardly have held his tongue for the sake of the Democratic administration, and Senator Russell would have had every political interest in exposing any misdeeds on the part of Chief Justice Warren. A conspirator moreover would hardly choose a location for a shooting where so much depended on conditions beyond his control: the route, the speed of the cars, the moving target, the risk that the assassin would be discovered. A group of wealthy conspirators could have arranged much more secure conditions.

d. Critics have often been enticed by a form of intellectual pride: they light on some theory and fall in love with it; they also scoff at the Commission because it did not always answer every question with a flat decision one way or the other. Actually, the make-up of the Commission and its staff was an excellent safeguard against over-commitment to any one theory, or against the illicit transformation of probabilities into certainties.

e. Oswald would not have been any sensible person's choice for a co-conspirator. He was a "loner," mixed up, of questionable reliability and an unknown quantity to any professional intelligence service. 
f. As to charges that the Commission's report was a rush job, it emerged three months after the deadline originally set. But to the degree that the Commission tried to speed up its reporting, this was largely due to the pressure of irresponsible speculation already appearing, in some cases coming from the same critics who, refusing to admit their errors, are now putting out new criticisms. 
g. Such vague accusations as that "more than ten people have died mysteriously" can always be explained in some natural way e.g.: the individuals concerned have for the most part died of natural causes; the Commission staff questioned 418 witnesses (the FBI interviewed far more people, conduction 25,000 interviews and re interviews), and in such a large group, a certain number of deaths are to be expected. (When Penn Jones, one of the originators of the "ten mysterious deaths" line, appeared on television, it emerged that two of the deaths on his list were from heart attacks, one from cancer, one was from a head-on collision on a bridge, and one occurred when a driver drifted into a bridge abutment.)
5. Where possible, counter speculation by encouraging reference to the Commission's Report itself. Open-minded foreign readers should still be impressed by the care, thoroughness, objectivity and speed with which the Commission worked. Reviewers of other books might be encouraged to add to their account the idea that, checking back with the report itself, they found it far superior to the work of its critics.

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