Sunday, 12 June 2016 18:41

Mark Lane Part III: The Ryder/Russo Graveyard Smear

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As one can see, Mark Lane was such an effective critic of the Warren Report that his ghost is haunted by its shameless defenders even in death.  It is they who are guilty of what they say he was: namely, presenting the facts in a one-sided, polemical way, declares Jim DiEugenio.

Dale Myers

The Dark Syde did not let Mark Lane’s passing go unnoticed or uncommented upon.  At his web site, Dale Myers, also known as Mr. Single Bullet Fact, printed Keith Schneider’s New York Times obituary of May 12.  Which, surprisingly, was relatively fair to the deceased. Schneider’s obituary was incomplete about Lane’s rather remarkable life.  But when one is trying to do things on a deadline, such things happen.  In retrospect, I would say that even my eulogy for Lane was incomplete, mainly because I tried to get it out there fast in anticipation of what I thought would be some rather negative notices.  But I have to say, considering who Lane was and what he represented, the MSM really did not treat his passing that badly.

It was the Dark Syde denizens who could not present his death as objectively as Keith Schneider did.  Within one day of Myer’s posting Schneider’s obituary, a non-entity named Barry Ryder jumped on the comments thread.  To this person’s knowledge, Ryder has no published track record or literary trail in the JFK field.  What he does is troll around to criticize any book advocating a conspiracy in the JFK field.  And he does so with saliva dripping venom and viciousness.

Without dealing with one iota of the totality of Lane’s career—Wounded Knee, the Vietnam War, the Wassaic prison scandal, James Richardson—Ryder started in with the usual Krazy Kid Oswald ranting about Lane. He actually wrote that Lane’s writings on the JFK case “have done irreparable harm to the general understanding of the murder.”  In other words, writing and speaking throughout the country in 1964 and telling the public that 1)  The official story was dubious; and 2) The real killers may have gotten away with the murder of the president constitutes “irreparable harm” to the public on the JFK case.  Talk about Eric Blair aka George Orwell.

Then, channeling David Belin, Ryder now states that Lane made “big money” off the JFK case.  As Lane revealed more than once, he made exactly $100 dollars from his original National Guardian essay published in December of 1963. He tried to sell the piece to larger venues but every single outlet turned him down.  For the next three years he largely abandoned his promising and growing legal practice to live a hand to mouth existence trying to alert the public, both here and abroad, that there was a distinct probability that Oswald was not guilty.  Most of the money he did make was funneled into his Citizens Commission of Inquiry.

I would like to ask a question to Mr. Ryder:  Did Arlen Specter ever make that kind of sacrifice for the JFK case?  Did David Slawson?  Did William Coleman?  Did Wesley Liebeler?  Not to my knowledge. For that matter, did anyone on the Warren Commission? In comparison, the senior counsel on the Commission only worked part time even though they were being paid.  Many of them left by the summer of 1964 when the job was incomplete and they had only been there for about six months.  Six months of paid part-time work was too much of a sacrifice for them. After all, it was only the murder of the president. These are the kinds of men that Howard Willens of the Justice Department chose to solve the murder of President Kennedy.  And the comment troll Ryder has no problem with that.

Ryder then says that Lane “showboated” before the Warren Commission.  Let us be simple: Lane was treated as a hostile witness by the Commission.  Anyone who reads the testimony can understand that. As Marcus Raskin wrote in 1967 in the Yale Law Journal, “Reading through the Commission Report and its record gives one the impression that Lane was put on continuous trial.”  (see Volume 74, p. 583)  And he was, because, as Raskin also disclosed, the FBI reports on Lane were forwarded to the Commission.

How hostile was the Commission towards Lane?  Chief Counsel Lee Rankin requested that the local BAR in New York begin deliberations to discipline him. (Mark Lane, Citizen Lane, p. 155) Lane had to hire an attorney to represent him in the proceedings. 

Beyond that, FBI agents followed him around almost everywhere he went.  At times, they were waiting for him outside his house. (Mark Lane, A Citizen’s Dissent, p. 21) They talked to radio and TV hosts, attempting to cut Lane off the airwaves.  They talked to publishers, trying to prevent anyone in America from publishing his book.  It got so bad that Lane had to find a publisher in England.  But even then, the CIA sent an agent there to try and sandbag the editing of the manuscript.  (Citizen Lane, pgs. 164-165)  Then, when the British publisher found an American outlet, the CIA tried to talk Arthur Cohen of Holt, Rinehart and Winston out of signing a contract with Lane.  (ibid, p. 357)  Does Mr. Ryder think that, say, David Belin had any of these problems publishing his books proselytizing for the Warren Report? No, Belin had help from the New York Times.

But it wasn’t just his profession that was at stake, it was his life. Lane had a number of death threats made against him, especially when he went on tour for his book. In other words, it was not enough for the Power Elite to illegally surveil him, to try and deprive him of his ability to earn a living. Now the man had to undergo the mental duress of death threats, with at least one attempt apparently Agency sanctioned. (ibid, pgs. 168-70)

Of course, much of  this could have been prevented if the Commission had simply abided by the request of the murdered defendant’s mother, Marguerite Oswald.  She wanted Lane to represent her deceased son’s interests before the Warren Commission.  Rankin replied that it would not be appropriate for Lane to see the investigative files of the Commission or participate in the hearings.  (CE 2033, p. 445, Vol. 24 of the WC)  Then, almost risibly in retrospect, Rankin assured Lane that the Commission would pursue the case concerning Oswald as accurately and fairly as possible. (ibid)  

Question for Mr. Ryder:  How could that be done if Oswald had no counsel during the proceedings? 

But beyond that, as everyone knows today, the Commission, during the entire time it was in session, worked in secret. The only information known about their proceedings was largely that which was leaked to the press by men like FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and Warren Commissioners Allen Dulles and Gerald Ford.  In other words, only that which incriminated Oswald.  Further, the only hearings that were open to the public were the two with Lane.  And that was because he insisted they be open!

Why? Because if the case against Oswald was really an open and shut one, why not let the public see and hear the proceedings?  Why not let members of the press sit in on and even record the hearings?  If for no other reason than to preserve them for history.  This was a point that Lane vigorously protested: the American people should be allowed to witness the investigation of their murdered president, especially since the alleged assassin had been killed while in the custody of the very police that had arrested him.  But further, why was it necessary to lock up so much of the evidence for over 30 years? In fact, it took an act of Congress to declassify some of the Commission records; that act of Congresss became the JFK Act of 1994.  Yet, even today, over 50 years later, there is still material being withheld. (See (

Why Mr. Ryder?

The obvious answer to that question is that, contrary to what Ryder wants you to think, the JFK murder was not an open and shut case. Far from it.  And, as we know today, the Warren Commission understood that. Commissioners Russell, Cooper, and Boggs did not buy the Magic Bullet fantasy. (James DiEugenio, Reclaiming Parkland, pgs. 258-60)  Later on, Gerald Ford admitted to the French president that the Commission understood there was more to the case than Oswald. ("The Kennedy Assassination: «The dream was assassinated along with the man», Giscard says.") Junior counsel Wesley Liebeler told Sylvia Odio that the Commission had instructions to bury any leads indicating a conspiracy. (DiEugenio, Reclaiming Parkland, p. 254)  This is obviously a reflection of Warren’s first staff meeting, recorded by Commission counsel Melvin Eisenberg. (ibid, pgs. 253-54)  During that initial meeting, Warren alerted the working staff about his meeting with President Johnson in which LBJ intimidated him into taking the leadership job on the Commission.  How? By saying that if  he did not, a nuclear war would result.  In other words, the fix was in and the Commission was not going to let any defense counsel for Oswald reverse that decision. Whether it be Mark Lane or anyone else.  Somehow, none of this is worth mentioning for Ryder as well as other lone-nut supporters.

Yet, Ryder does say that Dealey Plaza witness Charles Brehm was misrepresented by Lane in his book. Ryder mentions this and immediately drops it.  This issue first surfaced publicly in 1967.  In his book, Rush to Judgment, Lane had quoted Brehm as saying that he saw something that appeared to be part of Kennedy’s head go back and to the left as the second bullet struck him.  (Lane, Rush to Judgment, p. 56)  That is as far as he quotes Brehm.  In fact, that is the only page of the book on which Brehm’s name appears.

Title card from 1967 CBS Special. Instead of being an honest critique of the Warren Report, the program became a one-sided account that Krazy Kid Oswald did it all by himself.

In 1967, CBS was preparing its four-night special in support of the Warren Commission.  As the documents attained by former CBS employee Roger Feinman proved, this program began as an honest attempt to question the worth and value of the Warren Report.  Through various decisions made by the executives at CBS, especially by president Dick Salant, it turned out to be nothing but a rather sickening four-hour panegyric for the Warren Report.  This was due in large part because CBS let former Warren Commissioner John McCloy be one of the clandestine advisors—without telling the public about it. (  Lane was one of the critics that CBS targeted.  They brought Brehm on the show to say that he never told Lane the shots came from the right and front of Kennedy, the grassy knoll area.

This is a non-sequitur because Lane never quotes Brehm as saying that in his book.  Therefore, Brehm was not misquoted.  CBS was desperate for something to throw at Lane.  So they created this non-issue.  And when Lane asked for time to reply to this smear, CBS declined his request.  (Letter from General Counsel Leon Brooks of CBS to Lane of July 6, 1967)

Ryder then says that Lane made up an interview with Mary Woodward.  Mary was another Dealey Plaza witness Lane used in his book to indicate the directionality of the shots. Again, Woodward is mentioned on just one page of Lane’s book. There, on page 41, Lane quotes her as saying she thought the shots came from behind her, which would indicate the picket fence.  But if one looks at the footnote, one will see that the information  does not come from an interview.   It comes from a newspaper report of November 23, 1963.  One really has to wonder: in his incontinent compulsion to urinate on Lane, did Ryder even read Rush to Judgment before he jumped on the web to trash his memory?

Ryder then brings up the interview Lane did with Helen Markham. Markham was a witness to the murder of police officer J. D. Tippit.  The Warren Report famously gave her testimony “probative value.”  Yet, as many of the Commission counsel, including Joseph Ball, argued, she was an “utterly unreliable” witness. (Edward Epstein, The Assassination Chronicles, p. 142)  Ball said that her testimony was “full of mistakes.”  She said she leaned into Tippit’s car, yet photos showed the windows to be closed.  Markham said she talked to Tippit as he lay bleeding on the street.  Yet, the autopsy showed that the policeman died instantly.  She said she was the only person on the street, yet there were others on the scene.  Ball did not want to use her at all. (ibid, pgs. 142-43)  In fact, at a public engagement, he once famously called her an “utter screwball.”

Wesley Liebeler, a colleague of Ball’s, felt the same way and he had also examined Markham.  He called her testimony “contradictory” and “worthless.”  (ibid, p. 143) In the famous Libeler memorandum,  he wrote that using her in the Warren Report would eventually backfire on the Commission, that no matter how the Report tried to hide her, its critics would find her and make hay with her testimony.

Which is what happened.  And, as can be seen from the above, the Commission knew this in advance. Liebeler even mentioned Mark Lane as a person who would capitalize on Markham’s liabilities as a witness.

Now, anyone can read Lane’s conversation with Helen Markham.  He taped it and then turned it over to the Commission and they printed it in the volumes. (See Volume 20, p. 571 ff)  Since the late Vincent Bugliosi’s bloated and empty book on the JFK case was published, it has become standard fare for Commission backers to use this tape to discredit Lane. So Ryder calls this conversation “disgraceful.”  Again, one has to wonder, did Ryder read the transcript in the Warren Commission?   Or did he just rely on Bugliosi’s boilerplate?  For instance, Bugliosi writes that Markham agreed to talk to Lane because he introduced himself as Captain Will Fritz of the Dallas Police. (Bugliosi, p. 1006)  That would be pretty bad.  But when one turns to the actual transcript in the Commission volumes, one can see that he introduces himself with this: “My name is Mr. Lane.”  (Op cit, p. 572)

Bugliosi then goes on to write that somehow Lane did not want to give up the tape because it showed that he was unduly leading the witness.  Anyone can read the transcript. First of all, this was not a legal proceeding.  It was simply a private interview for an investigation Lane was doing for Marguerite Oswald.  Whenever Lane suggests something to Markham from newspaper interviews she gave, he lets her dispute what the report says.  And he does not then discard her revisions. In reading the transcript, one sees that the way he summarized her description of the killer of Tippit does contradict the description of Oswald.  Markham said he was short, a bit heavy, and his hair was a bit bushy.

Witness Helen Markham: Perhaps one of the worst witnesses in the JFK case where both Warren Report apologists and conspiracy supporters agree was unreliable at best.

Markham went on to say to Lane that no one indicated to her who she should pick out of the police lineup as the suspect she thought had killed Tippit.  How can one reply to this without being needlessly cruel?  Anyone, except perhaps Ryder, can read the examination by Ball of Markham on this point.  Ball asked her if she recognized any of the men in the line up.  She replied in the negative. Ball then asked if she recognized anyone’s face.  She again replied in the negative.  She then said she did not recognize any of these men in the line up.  Ball then replied with this leading question: “Was there a number two man in there?”  Markham, obviously cued about the number, now replied with “Number two is the one I picked.  When I saw this man I wasn’t sure, but I had cold chills just run over me.”  (WC Vol. 3, pgs. 310-11)

Bugliosi, somehow, found no fault with Ball’s leading of the witness here.  And neither did his acolyte, Ryder. But they both found fault with Lane.

Next up for Ryder is Lane’s treatment of the testimony of Jack Ruby. To be clear, this is another Krazy Kid Oswald shibboleth. Writers like Jean Davison and John McAdams have gone out of their way to criticize Lane’s discussion of Ruby’s testimony in Rush to Judgment.  For instance, Davison begins her (atrocious) book, Oswald’s Game, by saying that Lane shortened the context of Ruby’s testimony as to why he wanted to leave Dallas, which Ruby requested to do more than once.  Ruby even added that his life was in danger in Dallas.  (See WC Vol. 5, p. 196)  Which considering the way he died, with CIA MK/Ultra doctor Louis West attending him, may likely have been true. Davison says that the reason Ruby wanted to leave Dallas was not to tell his story further but simply to take a polygraph test, and this was going to show that Ruby was not part of a conspiracy. (Davison, p. 18)  Davison never addresses the issue of why a polygraph could not be done in Dallas if that was all Ruby wanted. Then Davison, like Ryder does in other regards, inserts her foot into her mouth. She writes that the test, taken in Dallas, proved he was telling the truth. 

Like Ryder, this was how desperate Davison was to nail Mark Lane.  Even though she was writing almost five years after the HSCA volumes had been published, she failed to note their report on this polygraph test.  Their distinguished panel of experts reversed the Warren Report.  They determined that Ruby was not telling the truth. Because the whole test, conducted by the FBI, was a sham. It violated at least ten standard practices in the field, including the fact that the Dallas DA’s office representative was in the room for the test—and he talked to Ruby.  But further, the FBI turned down one of the biological indicators for deception on the test; it was called the GSR, Galvanic Skin Response. (For a review of this tawdry episode, which both the Commission and Davison accepted, see DiEugenio, Reclaiming Parkland, pgs. 244-46.  And the reader will see there how Bugliosi covered this up.)

Without the Ryder/Davison censorship of the facts, the questions then become quite interesting.  First, why did the FBI rig the test?  Did J. Edgar Hoover know that Ruby was going to lie?  (I mention Hoover since it is hard to think that the operator would have done this on his own.) Second, if Ruby had gone to Washington, would he have been more truthful once away from his prosecutors?  Third, with an honest investigation, which the Warren Commission was not even close to being, could the results of the test have been used to try and break Ruby?  After all, as Jim Marrs points out, Ruby later indicated—more than once—that there were higher forces in the country that had placed him in this position.  (Marrs, Crossfire, pgs. 430-33.  See also Anthony Summers, Conspiracy, p. 472) 

The other reason that Commission apologists give to cloud Ruby’s testimony is that he wanted to go to Washington to discuss the issue with President Johnson. John McAdams uses this one.  The problem is that Ruby brought up the Washington angle at least four times in his testimony. (See WC Vol. 5, pgs. 190, 195, 196, 210) Only near the end does he bring up Johnson’s name. Since the other requests had been turned down, Ruby may have thought if he dropped the president’s name it may have changed things.  It did not.

In other words, Lane quoted Ruby accurately. He did say some provocative things and it turned out that he was lying during his polygraph test.  Further, from what we know today, the Warren Commission’s description of Ruby—having no significant ties to organized crime and knowing perhaps fifty Dallas policemen—is a sick joke.

Gus Russo

On the Myers blog, Gus Russo later joined Ryder. They both criticized the use of Marita Lorenz by Lane in his libel case against Howard Hunt.  Whatever one thinks of Lorenz, it’s pretty obvious that Lane believed her. (See Lane’s Plausible Denial, pgs. 291-303)   He also said he later talked to Gerry Hemming who backed up her story about Howard Hunt leading an assassination team to Dallas.  Is the story true?  Maybe, maybe not.  But it was not the heart of his case against Hunt.  The heart of his case was 1) There really was a CIA memo written by counter –intelligence chief  James Angleton saying that Hunt needed an alibi for 11/22/63 since he was in Dallas that day (ibid, p. 167); and 2) Lane destroyed Hunt’s purported alibi on the stand.  (ibid pgs. 272-283)  Which leaves most objective observers with the clear implication that Hunt was in Dallas on 11/22/63. If so, why? And one may add, what was David Phillips doing there? Since he himself admitted late in life he was there. (Destiny Betrayed, Second Edition, by James DiEugenio, p. 364) And, as David Talbot reveals in The Devil’s Chessboard, why was William Harvey there in November? And is it just a coincidence  that all three of those men were there along with Allen Dulles? (ibid, pgs. 197-98)

Russo has a simple reason for going after Lane: because Lane, and to a greater extent Oliver Stone, were his entrée into the MSM.  As I revealed in an article for Probe magazine,Russo had been ostensibly in the Warren Commission critics’ camp for a while.  But right after Stone’s film JFK came out, he began to flip sides.  (Who is Gus Russo?) He first began to work with Dan Rather on his 1993 CBS special.  For Newsweek, he attacked Lane and his book Plausible Denial, specifically going after Marita Lorenz.  From there, it was onward and upward.  In addition to Rather, Russo then worked for PBS in 1993, for the late Peter Jennings at ABC in 2003, and Tom Brokaw at NBC in 2013.  In those instances, he has been well compensated. In his own words, he was flying around first class, all done in order to revivify the rotten corpse of the Warren Report. One way a media hack’s MSM ticket gets punched on the Kennedy case is by attacking Mark Lane. Russo’s career included, of course, the Dale Myers public atrocity: his computer concoction about the Single Bullet Fact for Jennings.  No one who was associated with that blatant and shameless deception should attack someone like Mark Lane regarding his work with Marita Lorenz or anything else. (Click here for a course on Myersvision, as sponsored by Russo: Dale Myers: An Introduction)

Before closing out my comments on this tawdry instance of posthumous character assassination (actually more like urination),  I should address one more  instance of this Lane posthumous mania.  One of the witnesses that Mark Lane interviewed in Dallas was Lee Bowers.  Lane had read his Warren Commission testimony. It intrigued him since it looked to him as if Bowers was about to describe something he saw from his vantage point in the railroad yard behind the picket fence, up and above the grassy knoll. The subject was then changed.  In his Commission testimony he described three cars coming into the area behind the fence.  He then described what he called a “commotion,” one that  that he was unable to describe, except that it was out of the ordinary.  So much so that it attracted his eye.  (WC Vol. 6, p. 288)  When Lane interviewed Bowers in 1966, Bowers elaborated on this issue.  He said that he saw something like a flash of light, or smoke, “in the immediate  area on the embankment.”  (Lane, Rush to Judgment, p. 32)

As one can see, Mark Lane was such an effective critic of the Warren Report that his ghost is haunted by its shameless defenders even in death.

Decades later, when this interview transcript was given over to a university, it became a bone of contention between the late Gary Mack and Myers because Lane left a bit of ambiguity over exactly where on the embankment Bowers was referring. It became part of a feud concerning Mack’s concept of Badge Man and Myers’ attempt to discredit it. Which side of the fence was Bowers referring to - the inside, toward the railroad yard, or the outside toward the street? Years later, Debra Conway settled the dispute.  She interviewed Lee Bowers’ supervisor.  He said that not even Lane got the whole story from his employee, because Bowers told him he saw one of the two men throw something metallic to the other and the second man then threw it in the car.  This settled the matter, since such a thing could only have happened behind the picket fence.  (E-mail communication with Conway, 6/11/16)

As one can see, Mark Lane was such an effective critic of the Warren Report that his ghost is haunted by its shameless defenders even in death.  But yet, it is they who are guilty of what they say he was: namely, presenting the facts in a one-sided, polemical way.  Russo did what he did because Lane was instrumental in advancing his MSM career.  So there was no way he was going to let Lane’s ghost alone.  But Barry Ryder is truly a bizarre and offensive piece of work.  We should all be on the lookout for this strange personage in the future, a personage who does not even check the database before he unleashes his baseless invective.

Meanwhile, this will close out CTKA’s tribute to a fine lawyer, an admirable advocate for progressive causes, and a man who tried to use his skills and education to correct what was wrong around him. As the old saying goes, nobody’s perfect.  But the record of Mark Lane was far above those who opposed him. So much so that he renders the attempts by the likes of Ryder and Russo to belittle him as little more than bitter flapdoodle.

UPDATE: The estimable British Warren Commission critic and CTKA contributor, Martin Hay, lends us some more info on Mr. Ryder. A while back, Ryder was doing his trolling at This time about Jim Garrison’s On the Trail of the Assassins. He was posting the usual anti-Garrison sludge. Martin jumped on and began to counter each and every charge–eventually demolishing it all. A couple months later, when Martin checked back, he saw that Ryder had erased both his review and all of the comments by both himself and Martin. This is the kind of man that Mr. Single Bullet Fact aka Dale Myers, and Gus Russo cavort around with.

Unfortunately for Ryder, he will not be able to erase what I wrote here at CTKA.

Last modified on Saturday, 29 October 2016 19:06
James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today (2018), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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