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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Welcome back, my friends, to the smear that never ends...

At one time, I had intended to write about the JFK assassination throughout this year, but that plan was scuttled when an earlier story on the topic brought forth a flood of particularly goofy reader commentary. Still, if my readers behave themselves, I may publish a few articles on the subject.

Right now, I'm particularly annoyed by this piece of crap. One Yohani Kamarudin has written a frivolous article on the (alleged) "ten best JFK assassination theories." Predictably, the piece treats a presidential assassination as an excuse for wallowing in silliness, offering scant mention of the work done by serious researchers while paying undue attention to a series of inane claims made by sensationalists and cranks.

I was particularly struck by theory number two: The "gay thrill kill" scenario. Much to my surprise, this notion is attributed to none other than former New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who mounted the only prosecution to arise out of the president's killing.
If this, quite frankly, bizarre theory is to be believed, President Kennedy was assassinated, pretty much for the fun of it. According to Jim Garrison, who was the New Orleans District Attorney at the time, pilot David Ferrie was one of the forces behind the conspiracy. “It was a homosexual thrill-killing, plus the excitement of getting away with a perfect crime,” said Garrison. “John Kennedy was everything that Dave Ferrie was not – a successful, handsome, popular, wealthy, virile man. You can just picture the charge Ferrie got out of plotting his death."

In Garrison’s view, many, if not all of the conspirators behind the killing of Kennedy were homosexual deviants who took pleasure in plotting the President’s death. Understandably, there are few who take this charge seriously. Ferrie himself died during Garrison’s investigation (from an intracranial berry aneurysm, according to the coroner).
Needless to say, all of this is bullshit. Jim Garrison did not think that Kennedy was killed by homosexual thrill killers. Everyone knows that "Big Jim" blamed the CIA. Homosexuality played no role in the trial of Clay Shaw or in the books Garrison wrote about the JFK case.

The quotation above struck me as bizarre; those words certainly don't sound like anything Garrison actually said. I ran the text past Jim DiEugenio, author of Destiny Betrayed, a book largely focused on the Garrison case. (See the ad in the upper right-hand corner of this page.) I also contacted Professor Joan Mellen, Garrison's biographer, but she has not yet responded to me.

With the possible exception of Professor Mellen, no-one alive today knows more about Jim Garrison than does Jim DiEugenio, an historian who has read all the relevant material and has gone through all of the audio and video featuring Garrison. Not only has he had access to Garrison's files, he has spoken at length with Garrison's family and associates.

DiEugenio believes the quote to be spurious.

He tells me that the "gay thrill kill" smear was invented by journalists James Phelan and Hugh Aynesworth. Destiny Betrayed proves that Phelan had covertly worked on behalf of the FBI in his dealings with Garrison, just as he had done in other instances. (Phelan denied working for Hoover's boys, but FBI documents released by the Assassination Records Review Board prove the point conclusively.) Hugh Aynesworth was a government informant with a rather imaginative relationship to reality: He not only claimed to be in Dealey Plaza at the time of the killing, he also said that he witnessed the Tippet shooting, that he saw the Oswald arrest in the movie theater, and that he was present in the police department's parking garage when Ruby shot Oswald. I know of no evidence that Aynesworth was actually at any of these locations.

My guess is that Kamarudin, if pressed for a citation, would probably point to some creative writing exercise fabricated by either Phelan or Aynesworth.

A few words should be said about the death (by "natural causes") of David Ferrie, an admitted CIA asset who was far more than just a pilot. Kamarudin neglects to mention four salient points:

1. Ferrie left two (unsigned) suicide notes.

2. Multiple witnesses confirm that Ferrie, in his last days, considered his life to be in danger.

3. Ferrie's doctor (a man named Martin Palmer) considered the official autopsy report to be quite "slipshod."

4. Shortly before his death, Ferrie had purchased a bottle of 100 thyroid pills; after his death, the bottle was found empty. Ingestion of those pills (forced or otherwise) could have caused an aneurism.

My questions: How could Kamarudin know about the aneurism without being aware of the genuine oddities surrounding Ferrie's death? Who is this Kamarudin personage? And after all these years, is it still necessary to smear Jim Garrison?
And we are going to see a lot more of this crap as the 50th anniversary approaches.

Did you ever do a full review of "Destiny Betrayed"? If so, could you provide a link?
I read Garrison's book, and I certainly did not come away with the impression that he thought light in the loafers thrill killers were the master minds behind the Kennedy assassination.

I was 8 years old when Kennedy was murdered.
I remember it well because it was the first time I ever saw my mom cry.

Having only read 4 or 5 books on the subject and having watched just a dozen or so documentaries I'm swimming on the surface regarding the Kennedy assassination while others, like our host, have been scuba diving in those dark waters for years.

Given my limited scope of knowledge my questions, and the things that stick out to me, are:

The fact that at the height of the cold war Oswald defected to Russia, renounced his US Citizenship, then was allowed to come back to live in America without repercussions.

Oswald's pro Castro organization had an office in the same building as anti-Castro ex-FBI agent Guy Banister. Was Banister keeping an eye on Oswald? Who had an office in that building first; Banister, or Oswald? Did Banister, Shaw, and Ferrie set Oswald up?

I read that an investigator working for HSCA discovered that David Atlee Phillips had been seen with Lee Harvey Oswald. Is this true?

Was Oswald working for the FBI to help find and close down the anti-Castro training camps?

Oswald was in the Civil Air Patrol and so was David Ferrie.
There is at least one group photo with both of them present at a CAP event, not that that proves they really "knew" each other, bit still it is odd.

Why was the SS agent called back when he went to ride on the bumper?
Maybe when he attempted to get on the bumper the speeds they would be going would too fast to be safe as I don't really know where they were at when he was called back.
I found it odd, but like I said I don't know enough to know if it really is or not.

And why does it appear, to me at least, that the officers escorting Oswald pretty much opened him up to be shot?
To be fair, they could have just been flinching due to the gun shot.

And did Ruby, not a person I would think of as altruistic risk death, and the death penalty, to redeem the city of Dallas and spare Mrs. Kennedy the ordeal of a trial?
I mean he ran a strip bar, not that there's anything inherently wrong with that, but to most people strip bars aren't exactly a plus for a city's image.

Dan, all I can say is -- read DiEugenio's book. Or the books by Joan Mellen and Bill Davy's. Davy's book is short and very well-written, but it comes at a price these days.

There are so many witnesses who put Ferrie and Oswald together it's absurd to say that they didn't know each other. Also Oswald and Shaw. The Clinton, LA witnesses are solid -- one of them was a state senator who talked to Oswald, while another was a sheriff who asked Shaw for ID -- and checked his license.
Thanks Joseph, I will get those book as soon as I can.

Mellen is publishing an updated edition 9/03/13.

Davy is available in a Kindle edition for 9.99.
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