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Tuesday, 16 February 2021 18:00

Fred Litwin, On the Trail of Delusion - Part Three

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Litiwn’s Follies Continued: Starring Hugh Aynesworth and Harry Connick. With smear jobs on Oliver Stone, Fletcher Prouty and Michele Metta. And guess what? LBJ’s own recorded words don’t mean anything, because Johnson was continuing Kennedy’s policy in Vietnam.


As I have noted throughout, Litwin’s continual reliance on some of the most dubious-in some cases, scurrilous-sources in the literature seems to indicate what his objective was. Hugh Aynesworth has admitted his goal has always been to deny a conspiracy in the JFK case. (Click here for details) As one can see from that linked article, he openly threatened the Warren Commission in order to intimidate them into a lone gunman conclusion. This was months before the Commission’s 26 volumes of evidence were published!

Hugh wanted the Commission to portray Oswald as a homicidal maniac who was going to kill Richard Nixon. Through his friend and colleague Holland McCombs at Time-Life he learned about Garrison’s inquiry. As one can see, from the beginning, he secretly plotted to thwart the DA. He also became an FBI informant. We previously saw how he attempted to tamper with Clinton/Jackson witness John Manchester. Shaw’s lead lawyer, Irvin Dymond was very appreciative of the huge amount of work Aynesworth did for his client, which went as far as eliminating troublesome aspects to the point they did not surface at the trial.(Columbia Journalism Review, Spring 1969, pp. 38–41) In light of this sorry record, Litwin calls him a “great reporter”. That comment says much more about Litwin than it does the FBI informant who did not want his name revealed to the public.

Another Litwin source is Harry Connick Sr. Litwin features a picture of Connick in the Introduction to his book and says he was a source for how Jim Garrison operated as a DA. That is as far as the description goes. As with Aynesworth, its what Litwin leaves out that covers both his and Connick’s tail.

In 1973, in a close election, Harry Connick defeated Jim Garrison for DA. Over time, under Connick, New Orleans became “the city with the highest murder per capita ratio in the US.” (Probe Magazine Vol. 2 No. 5) But that’s not all. Gary Raymond, an investigator on his staff, was asked to check into the case of a local priest suspected of sodomizing children and young adults. Gary did so, and he accumulated evidence, including tapes and affidavits. The investigator recommended Connick prosecute the case. But nothing happened. Meanwhile Gary encountered one of the kids on the tapes. He asked him if he wanted to go on the record. The victim replied that his abuser had threatened his life. Raymond now wrote a three page memo outlining the case. This angered Connick because it created a paper trail. Raymond then encountered the DA at a St. Patrick’s day parade and asked him when the perpetrator would be indicted. Connick placed his finger in Gary’s chest and said, “He won't be. Not as long as I am the DA. And you can't do a thing about it.” Raymond had no choice but to go to the press. This began a series on what became the infamous Father Dino Cinel child abuse scandal. (Ibid, based on personal interview with Raymond)

For obvious reasons, as mentioned throughout, one would think that this sorry episode would be mentioned by the author. As with John McCloy’s failure to intercede with the Nazi extermination program against the Jews of Eastern Europe, you will not find it in the book.

But that’s not all. Connick was reproached by the US Supreme Court twice for violations of the Brady rule. (NY Times editorial of 2/16/2015; Slate, 4/1/2015, article by Dahia Lithwick) That rule maintains that the DA’s office must turn over any exculpatory materials it has to the defense. The cases were Connick vs. Thompson, and Smith vs Cain. (Click here for details) In the first case, the exculpatory material resulted in the defendant’s eventual acquittal. The ethical abuse in the second case was so bad that the conviction was reversed. Connick’s excuse for sending innocent people to prison for life was, “I stopped reading law books …when I became the DA.”

This record, and the fact that Connick served as the Washington liaison to the Shaw trial, is rather consistent. Because once he was in office, he went to work setting aflame the evidence Garrison had left behind. That is not figurative language. He carted it to the incinerator. When someone protested, Connick’s reply was “Burn this sonofabitch and burn it today.” (Op. Cit, Probe Magazine) Make no mistake, Connick literally wanted every single file left on the Kennedy case torched. This reviewer is certain of that. For when he visited Connick in 1994, the DA was shown an index to a file cabinet in his office made by the HSCA. Connick called in an assistant to check if it was still there. When he was told it was, his face took on a look of surprise and he said, “We still have that stuff?” Harry Connick is a major reason we have such an incomplete record of the Jim Garrison investigation into the JFK assassination. The excision of these key factors is another instance of Litwin’s plastic surgery practices.

I don't know what is worse: if Litwin was ignorant of all the above, or if he knew it and decided not to tell the reader about it. In either case, Connick is in no position to tell any DA how to operate his office.


II

With that firmly established, the third part of the book deals with the HSCA, Oliver Stone, Permindex, and people like this reviewer. That is people who have written newer books on the Clay Shaw inquiry.

Litwin’s chapter on the HSCA is so sketchy that its almost embarrassing. For instance, he writes that the HSCA forensic pathology panel wrote that Kennedy was shot from behind. (Litwin, p. 238) Gary Aguilar, among others, has shown that this was again achieved by the HSCA classifying key information that indicated the contrary. As he has written, “…the HSCA misrepresented the statements of its own Bethesda autopsy witnesses on the location of JFK’s skull defect.” (Trauma Room One, by Charles Crenshaw, p. 209) In other words, with the information now declassified, both sets of witnesses-those who saw Kennedy’s body in Dallas, and those who examined it at Bethesda-were on the record as depicting a rather large blown out hole in the rear of Kennedy’s skull, strongly indicating a shot from the front. What makes this worse is that when Gary did some questioning of who was responsible for writing the contrary in the HSCA report, no one would admit to it. (HSCA Vol. 7, p. 37) This would include Chief Counsel Robert Blakey, the lead medical investigator Andy Purdy, and the chair of the pathology panel Michael Baden. (Aguilar interview for the documentary, JFK: Destiny Betrayed)

After slipping on this banana peel, Litwin now goes ahead and depicts the association of Garrison with the HSCA. He tries to impute this relationship as beginning under Blakey. Which shows he never interviewed Bob Tanenbaum, who was the first Kennedy Deputy Chief Counsel. Tanenbaum is still alive and talks to people on the phone about the JFK case. Apparently, Litwin did not think that step was historically important. This reviewer has talked to Tanenbaum many times. He was the one who approved the HSCA inquiry into New Orleans. It was he who assigned Jon Blackmer as the lead lawyer and Larry Delsa as the investigator. Delsa then recommended Bob Buras, another police detective, as his partner. They then decided to consult with Garrison, who shared what he had in his remaindered files with this team.

In this chapter, Litwin trots out an old chestnut originated by Jim Phelan many years ago and repeated by Patricia Lambert. Namely that Bertrand’s name was implanted into Perry Russo under truth serum. What Shaw’s defense had done—and Phelan was a part of that team—was mislabel the order of the sodium pentothal sessions. As Lisa Pease noted, when read in their proper order, it’s very clear that it was Russo who brought up the name of Bertrand on his own. (Probe Magazine, Vol. 6 No. 5) This reviewer has shown these transcripts to other researchers from other fields, and once shown them, they agree. (See DiEugenio, p. 413, footnote, 116)

Litwin concludes this chapter by using a book later written by Blakey and Billings to score Garrison. (Litwin p. 251) In other words, he passes over the origins of the HSCA New Orleans inquiry, skips over Tanenbaum, and then jumps to a “Mafia did it” book-without telling the reader it’s a Mafia did it book. Or that, in 1981, the original title of the volume was The Plot to Kill the President. If you talk to Blakey today he will tell you that there was a second shot from the front of Kennedy. This reviewer knows this since he was in email contact with him while proofreading American Values by Bobby Kennedy Jr.

In the updated 1992 version of the 1981 book, renamed Fatal Hour, Billings refers to an episode Garrison described in On the Trail of the Assassins. This depicted Billings, the Life reporter who had gone on the famous Pawley/Bayo raid to Cuba, questioning the DA about an organized crime figure in Covington. (Garrison, pp. 163–64) Garrison questioned people in his office and they did not know who the man was. Billings used this lack of knowledge as an excuse to portray Garrison as a lax crimefighter. When Fatal Hour came out, this was now revised to say the name Billings gave Garrison was Carlos Marcello. We are to assume then that somehow Garrison had never heard of Marcello. In the files released by the ARRB, this reviewer found Garrison’s notes to this conversation. The name was not Marcello, not even close. (Personal files given to Bill Davy for an update to his book)

What this points out is an utterly crucial issue: the sea change that took place with the HSCA after the first Chief Counsel, Dick Sprague, had been forced out. Litwin avoids this entire episode pretty much completely. Sprague and Tanenbaum were going to run a genuine homicide investigation. And both men were very experienced doing that: Sprague in Philadelphia and Tanenbaum in New York. As did Garrison, they both had quite positive records in court. (DiEugenio, pp. 173, 326) Respectively, neither the CIA, nor the FBI wanted this kind of real criminal inquiry into either the JFK case or the murder of Martin Luther King. (Personal interview with congressman Tom Downing, 1993, in Newport News) Therefore the MSM created a faux controversy over Sprague, and he was forced out in rather short order. Tanenbaum became the acting Chief Counsel.

But the problem was, after what happened to Sprague, no one wanted the job. Sprague’s forced resignation was clearly meant as a warning shot. Or as HSCA photographic consultant Chris Sharrett said to me, “It was Garrison all over again.” (DiEugenio and Pease, p. 59) As Chief of Homicide in New York, Tanenbaum said he understood how false the Warren Report was; and he had been alerted to this first by Senator Richard Schweiker who had worked on the Church Committee. (Speech by Tanenbaum, at Chicago Midwest Symposium in 1993) The three leaders of the first phase of the Kennedy side of the HSCA-Sprague, Tanenbaum and Al Lewis-were all experienced criminal attorneys. None of them bought the Warren Report. With his background as a DA, when Lewis inspected the autopsy materials in the JFK case, he was shocked. (DiEugenio and Pease, p. 57)

Dick Billings was not a criminal lawyer. Yet he helped write the Final Report of the HSCA concerning the JFK inquiry. In and of itself, that helps the reader understand what happened to that committee. This is the story that Litwin, almost by necessity, excludes from his book. Namely that Schweiker, Sprague, Tanenbaum, and Lewis were all on the same page. Garrison was correct, the JFK case was a conspiracy, we are now going to solve it. In fact, Schweiker told Tanenbaum that the CIA was involved in the assassination. (2019 interview with Tanenbaum by Oliver Stone and Jim DiEugenio) And, like Garrison, that effort was crushed. You won't be able to unfold that rather sad saga if you don't talk to anyone involved. And you certainly won't find it in the papers of Sylvia Meagher or Patricia Lambert.


III

Litwin spends about 30 pages on the making of Oliver Stone’s film JFK. Again, I looked in his references for indications that he talked to anyone of importance in the making of the film. That is Oliver Stone, co-screenwriter Zach Sklar, any of the co-producers, or even an important consultant like John Newman. There was no evidence he did.

Litwin begins with the writing of Garrison’s book, the early drafts that eventually became On the Trail of the Assassins. He tells the shopworn story of how Sylvia Meagher was hired by a major book publisher to proof Garrison’s original manuscript for publication. She thought it was a worthy effort, but she then objected to his tenet that the motorcade route was changed. This formed a big part of the rejection of Garrison’s book by that publisher. (Litwin, pp. 259–60) As her lifelong fan, the late Jerry Policoff said, due to her innate bias, Sylvia should have never been handed that assignment. But once handed it, she should have never accepted it. (Click here for details)

Through the valuable work of Vince Palamara, we know today that Garrison was correct on this and Meagher was wrong. The motorcade route was altered. (Vince Palamara, Survivor’s Guilt, pp. 98–108) In fact, the Commission witness who Sylvia used to criticize Garrison, Forrest Sorrels, was one of the two men involved with the change—the other being Winston Lawson. It was then Lawson who stripped back the number of motorcycles riding in the motorcade, especially those bracketing either side. Further, the police were told to ride to the rear of the car. They were puzzled at this direction which was given to them at Love Field. (Palamara, pp. 131–38) As a result of Palamara’s work, the best one can say today about the Secret Service and their performance in Dallas is that it was extremely negligent. As time goes on, it more and more appears that Meagher’s expertise on the case was confined to the textual analysis of the Commission volumes

Getting to Stone’s film itself, taking out his dog whistle, Litwin calls it a depiction of a homosexual conspiracy. (Litwin, p. 254) Which, again I think is a bizarre statement. Because, after watching the film several times, I don't see it as that. The plot that I see is based on a military and Power Elite objection to Kennedy’s policies in Vietnam and Cuba, in that order. And, in everything I have seen or read, Shaw and Ferrie were not concerned about Indochina. In fact, this is what Garrison thought. He also believed that what he had uncovered, topped by Guy Banister, was only the local New Orleans level of the plot. In a documentary first broadcast on Pacifica radio in 1988, he said as much. He added that the character he thought was the main hand behind it all was Allen Dulles.

Litwin must understand this because now he goes after the Stone/Garrison portrait of Kennedy not being a Cold Warrior. But not even that is enough. If the reader can believe it—and you sure as heck can by now—Litwin also says that Lyndon Johnson continued Kennedy’s policy in Vietnam! (Litwin, pp. 270–71) I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at this. But, since it was Litwin, I chuckled. The idea that Kennedy was withdrawing from Vietnam at the time of his death was announced, not just by Oliver Stone, but back in 1997 by the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Both papers had headlines on this ARRB created story: The former said “Kennedy Had a Plan for early exit in Vietnam.” The latter was “Papers support theory that Kennedy had plans for Vietnam pullout.” (Probe Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 3)

The occasion for this confirmation of the thesis supplied to Oliver Stone by Fletcher Prouty and John Newman was the declassification of the records of the May 1963, SecDef conference. At this meeting in Hawaii, all arms of the American presence in Vietnam-military, CIA, State-offered their withdrawal schedules to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who had previously requested them. When he had them in hand, he looked them over. He then looked up and said the schedules were too slow, they had to be speeded up. Kennedy had taken John Kenneth Galbraith’s advice and decided to leave Indochina. (Click here for details)

But what we have today is even stronger than that. Because again, through the ARRB, we now have Johnson’s opposition to JFK and McNamara: In his own words on tape. (Tape of 2/20/64 phone call):

I always thought it was foolish for you to make any statement about withdrawing. I thought it was bad psychologically. But you and the president thought otherwise, and I just sat silent.

It then got worse for McNamara. Two weeks later, Johnson requested that McNamara take back what he said about a thousand man withdrawal plan in December of 1963 as being part of a complete withdrawal by the end of 1965. (Virtual JFK by James Blight, p. 310) I could go on, because it gets even worse. But the point is made. Not only did LBJ know he was breaking with Kennedy, he was trying to cover his tracks in doing so. That is, as lawyers term it, consciousness of guilt. Again, if Litwin did not know this, then he should not be writing about it. If he did know this and he deliberately concealed it then it points to the kind of writer he is and the quality of his book.

But ignoring this new evidence on Indochina is not enough for Litwin. Again, in defiance of the new work on Kennedy, he tries to say JFK was a Cold Warrior. This is as untenable as there being no breakage in policy on Vietnam. What Kennedy was trying to do in his overall foreign policy was get back to FDR: a modus vivendi with the Soviets and a policy of neutralism in the Third World. The newest research on this subject, by Robert Rakove, Greg Poulgrain and Philip Muehlenbeck has redrawn the map on this point. It has been done so effectively that this reviewer is now convinced that the attempt to cloud that particular issue was done more deliberately than the actual cover up of Kennedy’s assassination. (Click here and here and here for details) The last instance, Johnson changing policies in Indonesia, was proclaimed by Roger Hilsman back in 1967. (To Move A Nation, p. 409) Hilsman resigned the State Department over that alteration and Johnson’s escalation of the Vietnam War. We are supposed to think that Litwin was unaware of all this.


IV

Taking his lead from the late Robert Sam Anson’s hoary article for Esquire, printed back in November of 1991, Litwin goes ahead and assails Fletcher Prouty on just about every score that Anson, and later Edward Epstein, could think of. Including the ridiculous accusation that Prouty did not know that Leonard Lewin’s The Report from Iron Mountain was meant as a satire. With the help of Len Osanic, I have addressed all of these goofy charges as made by Epstein. (Click here and go to the last section for details)

Prouty was involved in the drafting of the McNamara/Taylor report in Washington. This was the plan that Kennedy was going to use to justify his withdrawal from Vietnam. Prouty’s revelations about this are bolstered by Howard Jones’ book, Death of a Generation. Except Jones states that this was done before the trip to Saigon. Jones writes that the departing party received large binders of material as they boarded the plane, “including a draft of the report they were to write afterward.” (Jones, p. 370) That material included the conclusions they were to present the president, along with statistics. This is a key piece of information. (My thanks to Paul Jolliffe for pointing this out to me.) Needless to say, Litwin does not list any of the new books about the issue of Kennedy, Johnson and Vietnam—either in his bibliography or his references. This makes sense since they rely on new documents and new interviews to further the case originally made by Prouty, Newman and Stone.

Litwin also uses Fletcher’s interview with the ARRB against him. (Litwin, pp. 271-72) He could have easily called Len Osanic about this matter. Osanic is the web master of the best Prouty web site there is. He knew Fletcher as well as anyone. He visited him at his home in Alexandria, Virginia. When I asked him about the perceived problems the ARRB had with Prouty, he informed me of the full context. (Click here for details) Fletcher had been interviewed by both the Rockefeller Commission and the Church Committee. He was not happy with either experience. In his interview with the former, dated May 5, 1975, its odd that when Prouty started getting into matters dealing with the CIA, the interviewer wanted to go off the record. (See page four of the interview)

When Fletcher went in for his pre-interview with the House Select Committee, he was rather surprised. The reason being that George Joannides was there. And it appeared that he was actually taking part in the investigation. Prouty was one of the few people who instantly understood what this meant. He decided he was only going to give a brief statement and not do the interview.

Which brings us to the ARRB appearance that Litwin likes to use against the man. Prouty understood from the first couple of questions what the agenda was. So he decided to play along and give them what they wanted. He then called Len and informed him about it. Let us just discuss two issues. The first will be the whole trip to the South Pole as depicted in the film JFK. The unusual aspect about that was that Ed Lansdale was the officer who sent in his name for the mission. Lansdale was not his commanding officer. That was Victor Krulak. So why did Lansdale offer his name?

The other point is about the lack of military protection for Kennedy in Dallas. When asked by the ARRB if he had any notes on this, Fletcher said he did not. (See page 6 of the ARRB summary of the interview) Fletcher did have the notes of the call. And Len Osanic has seen them. Prouty’s informant said that, as late as January 1964, when he reported to the 316th Field Detachment—which was very close to the 112th Military Intelligence Group in San Antonio—there were still arguments between the two commanders about why they were not detached to go to Dallas. (ARRB interview with Col. Bill McKinney 5/2/97) Especially since some of the officers there had been trained in presidential protection at Fort Holabird. McKinney called Prouty about it since Fletcher would likely have arranged the air transportation for the unit. After all, it’s a four drive from San Antonio to Dallas. Also, after the film was released, a daughter of one of the high level officers called Len. She told him that, over the assassination weekend, there was an argument at her home over this particular issue. Namely why there was no military protection forwarded to Dallas. (Interview with Osanic, 2/6/2021)

Fletcher Prouty was vividly played by Donald Sutherland in the film JFK. During that walk he took from the Lincoln Memorial with Costner/Garrison, for the first time, the American public was given loads of information about what the CIA was doing for decades in the name of spreading democracy abroad. It turned out they were not spreading democracy. They were actually overthrowing democratically elected republics e.g. Iran, Guatemala and Congo. And in the case of Congo, planning assassination plots. This information was all communicated with exceptional cinematic skill. The Powers That Be did not like the fact that Fletcher-an inside the beltway officer-was partaking in such an exercise. And not only was he telling the public that he knew Kennedy was exiting Vietnam, but he had worked on the plans. All one has to know about how valuable he was to the disclosure of the secret government is that James McCord despised him.

When Fletcher Prouty passed away, he was given full military honors. This included a band with a bugler playing Taps, a 21 gun salute, his body carried to chapel by caisson, and the flag folded up into a triangle and given to his widow. Like Kennedy, he was buried at Arlington. We are all lucky that a man with that standing gave so many insights to the general public. Because no one else at that level ever did.


V

Litwin’s book is designed to conceal who Clay Shaw really was. Therefore he does something I have never seen anyone do before; I don't even recall Gerald Posner doing it. Right in front of the reader’s eyes he changes the spelling of a word—contract to contact—in a long hidden CIA document. He then alters the wording, concerning Shaw’s payments, to make it read as he wishes. (Litwin, p. 289) In other words, J. Kenneth McDonald, the Chief of the CIA’s History Staff, was writing a memo to CIA Director Robert Gates, and with the file in front of him, somehow he got it wrong—but Litwin got it right? (CIA Memorandum of 2/10/1992)

But it’s worse than that. What Litwin does not tell the reader is that the CIA was so desperate to hide their association with Shaw that, as previously mentioned, they tampered with his file. Bill Davy first discovered this, and then Manuel Legaspi of the ARRB confirmed it and furthered it. (Legaspi to Jeremy Gunn, 11/14/1996; Davy, p. 200) So from what is left of the CIA records we know that Shaw was a highly paid contract agent and he had a covert security clearance for Project QKENCHANT. (For the latter, see Davy, p. 195) All of this discovery has been made possible by the ARRB. In a letter from Gordon Novel to Mary Ferrell in 1977, he revealed that the CIA had been trying to cover up their relationship with Shaw for well over a decade. (Personal Files sent to Bill Davy)

Another of Shaw’s CIA associations is with the mysterious European entity, CMC/Permindex. This was first revealed back in the sixties, and Shaw actually admitted to it for his entry in Who’s Who in the Southwest for 1963–64. Yet, that was Shaw’s last entry in that rather illustrious series. For whatever reason, his name does not appear after the 1963-1964 edition.

As most people know, when this organization was announced in 1956 in Switzerland, it was later booted out of the country due to a crescendo of negative newspaper articles. One of the reasons for the adverse reception was the attempt to conceal the main financial backing of the project. The State Department intervened and did some investigatory work. They found out that the true principal funding was through J. Henry Schroder’s, a bank that was closely associated with Allen Dulles and the CIA. In fact, Dulles had worked for the bank as General Counsel. (Davy, pp. 96–97) As Maurice Philipps has revealed, Ferenc Nagy, one of the key organizers of the enterprise, was a cleared CIA source and his file contained several references to his association with the World Trade Center, that is Centro Mondial Commerciale, the parent for Permindex. (Click here for details)

The project stalled, but the State Department kept up its inquiry, now referring to it as the Permindex “scheme”. John Foster Dulles knew about the “scheme” and made no objections to it. (Michele Metta, CMC: The Italian Undercover CIA and Mossad Station, p. 114) In 1958, State now said that the model for the company was the New Orleans International Trade Mart. Further, that Shaw had shown interest in the project. (Cables of April 9, July 18, 1958) The enterprise then moved to Rome. Litwin makes reference to a 1959 CIA document saying that Nagy offered to place a CIA agent on the staff. He then says that since Shaw joined the board in 1958, the dates do not match. (Litwin, p. 293) First, placing someone on the staff is not the same as a member of the Board, and I have a hard time believing Litwin does not understand this. Secondly, we don't know from the document when Nagy first wrote the CIA about the employment offer.

Phillips made two groundbreaking discoveries. First, as already mentioned, about Nagy and the CIA. Secondly by going through the Louis Bloomfield archives in Canada, he found out that corporate lawyer Bloomfield served as a legal representative of the company and was soliciting funds for Permindex. What made that even more fascinating was, in doing so, he was in contact with the wealthiest families in the world at that time e.g. the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds. None of this had been previously disclosed.

When one adds in the work of Michele Metta, then the mix gets more bracing. Let me say this upfront: in my opinion, Metta’s book is one of the finest pieces of work I have ever read in English on the Italian political scene of the sixties and seventies. Metta discovered that Gershon Peres was on the Board of Permindex from 1967-70. (Metta, p.114; see also article by Paz Marverde, at Medium, 12/12/17) Peres was the brother of Shimon Peres, on and off the Prime Minister of Israel for three years, and then president of Israel from 2007-14. In what is probably the only positive contribution by Litwin in his entire book, he appears to clear Permindex member George Mandel of being in the Jewish refugee racket. (Litwin, pp. 295–97) The problem with this is that Metta shows that Mandel was working with the Israeli spy service for years and years. (Metta, p. 114)

I cannot begin to summarize all the quite relevant material in Metta’s book. But perhaps the most important, at least to me, is that another CMC member was instrumental in the rise of Licio Gelli, the infamous leader of the utterly fascist Propaganda Due (P2) lodge. But further, CMC and P2 shared the same office space! (Metta, p. 120, see also Marverde) Suffice it to say that with these kinds of revelations, Philip Willan, an expert on Operation Gladio, now entertains the possibility that P2 and Permindex may have been a part of that concealed “stay behind” NATO network. Which puts it above the level of the CIA.

How does Litwin counter these powerful revelations? First, he barely mentions Metta’s book. Second, he uses Max Holland’s article in Daily Beast to say that, somehow, the Permindex story was all part of a KGB propaganda plot, issued through communist leaning papers in Italy. Holland’s article was published at the height of Russiagate mania, which has now been exposed as being, to put it mildly, a false alarm, to put it bluntly, a hoax. Holland swam right into that wave. Secondly, nothing I have referred to above relies on that material. Obviously, Phillips did not. Metta’s book is well documented and in his discoveries about CMC, are largely original research. Third, the underlying basis for Holland is the Mitrokhin archives. The well paid Russian defector has turned out to be, well, kind of unreliable. Especially on the JFK case. (Click here for details)

The other way Litwin tries to distract from all of this is by picking up his second dog whistle. His first is homophobia; his second is anti-Semitism. Because Bloomfield was Jewish, he uses that to play the anti-Semite card. I was nauseated at Litwin’s shameless hypocrisy. As I noted in the very first part of this series, what John McCloy did on the Jewish/Nazi issue during and after World War II was unfathomable. Somehow, Litwin did not find any of that even notable. Just as Jim Garrison never said anything about Shaw being a homosexual during the two years of that being a live case, Garrison has never written anything about Bloomfield being Jewish. And although Litwin writes that Bloomfield was not in the OSS, John Kowalski, who has been through the Bloomfield archives, says he did see letters between the legendary World War II Canadian/British intelligence officer William Stephenson and Bloomfield.


VI

The last chapter of the book is entitled “Conclusion: The Attempt to Rehabilitate Jim Garrison”. Here, Litwin groups Bill Davy, Joan Mellen and myself under one rubric in order to belittle and attack respectively, Let Justice be Done (1995), A Farewell to Justice (2005) and Destiny Betrayed, Second Edition (2012).

First he says the three books are incestuous. My book has over 2000 footnotes to it. Less than 2% of the references are to Bill Davy’s prior book. And even less than that are to Mellen’s A Farewell to Justice. The Davy book has about 650 references to it, evens less of his notes apply to my work in any form e.g. including essays I wrote for publication in various journals, particularly Probe Magazine. It’s preposterous to do that same comparison to Mellen’s book. For the simple reason that she employed the superb archives researcher Peter Vea, who was the Malcolm Blunt of his day. Therefore the figures for her are even smaller.

What Litwin is trying to avoid is this: the three books are based on research, data and facts that became newly available through the ARRB. And how that unprecedented event led to more searches through phone and personal interviews, field investigation, and materials mining at other centers e.g. the AARC. This combined effort, by many more people than he lists, resulted in a plethora of new information on New Orleans. Enough to pen three books clocking in at about a thousand pages.

Therefore, the idea of “rehabilitation” is demonstrably false. What these volumes do is redefine New Orleans, Garrison’s inquiry and its suspects. To the point that they have made books like Kirkwood’s look like a museum exhibit. And it’s not just those three works. For instance, my book uses John Newman’s Oswald and the CIA, which has important new material in it on New Orleans. It also uses Joe Biles’ work, In History’s Shadow, which did much to reopen the case of Kerry Thornley. In this particular review, I have utilized Michele Metta’s volume, which takes a quantum leap forward with Permindex/CMC. One of the main sources for my book was Probe Magazine, which I used far more than Bill Davy or Joan Mellen. That journal did many articles based upon new archival materials about New Orleans. I could go on, but my point is that Litwin’s attempt to narrow the field is simply not an accurate description as to how the database has been altered geometrically and exponentially on the subject.

His attempt to characterize the three books as being similar in subject and theme is also inaccurate. Let Justice be Done is narrowly focused on New Orleans and Clay Shaw. So when Litwin writes that all three deal with ending the Cold War, withdrawing from Vietnam and Kennedy ushering in “a new era of peace and prosperity", that simply does not apply to the text of Davy’s book. (Litwin, p. 311, not numbered) It only relates to the Afterword by a different author, Robert Spiegelman. It was not part of Davy’s research, themes or his ultimate aim. Mellen’s book only deals with the subject of JFK and his policies in one half of one chapter (See Chapter 11) My book is the only one that assays this topic at any length or detail. But the concept that Lyndon Johnson drastically altered Kennedy’s foreign policy is today an established fact. And Litwin can only deny it by not mentioning scholars like Robert Rakove, Greg Poulgrain, Philip Muehlenbeck, Richard Mahoney, Brad Simpson, Gordon Goldstein, David Kaiser, and James Blight—among others. Again, if he knew of this work and did not tell the reader about it, then he is not being forthright. If he didn't know, then he should not be writing about it.

In this final chapter, he also tries to deny, as he does throughout the book, that Shaw was Bertrand. As I have shown in the last installment, there is nothing to argue on this point anymore: Shaw was Bertrand. This is a fact. And in all probability Shaw’s defense team knew it. As we have seen, former FBI agent Aaron Kohn later made up one of his fables for the HSCA in order to disguise it. If the Bureau had been aiding Garrison, Shaw would have been decimated on the stand over this.

In quoting Jon Blackmer’s memo on his interview with Garrison about Shaw being a part of the conspiracy or a “cut out” to the plot, he writes that I did not place it in its proper context. He then adds that it’s not a part of the HSCA Final Report. (Litwin, p. 318)

This is another Litwin effort at a shell game. What I write about Blackmer’s memo is simple and straightforward, but it’s not part of Litwin’s agenda. And it explains why Blackmer’s work is not only absent from the Final Report, but why he was then absent from New Orleans. What I wrote is that Jon Blackmer did not matter once the leadership of the HSCA changed. (DiEugenio, p. 332) And anyone who knows this case understands that. As Gaeton Fonzi has written, once Sprague and Tanenbaum were gone, the focus shifted from the Cuban exiles and the CIA, to the Mafia. In fact, as Wallace Milam informed me back in the nineties, Blackmer was shifted out of New Orleans and his name was on a couple of autopsy memoranda. As Joan Mellen discovered when she approached him, Blackmer would not talk about his HSCA experience with her. Try and find any of this important material in Litwin’s book.

Another part of the story that Litwin wants to eliminate in this chapter is the massive interference with Garrison’s inquiry. To show how desperate he is, in the part of my book that deals with Louis Gurvich and his work for the CIA, he says I was writing about his brother, William. He then says my source was a JFK critic and he talked to Gurvich’s niece. (Litwin, p. 318) Again, these are both wrong. My source was a military veteran and he did not say he talked to Gurvich’s niece, and neither do I. (DiEugenio, p. 331) He then says there is no evidence that Gordon Novel was being used by Allen Dulles to spy on Garrison’s office. Anyone can read the sources I use for this in my book. One of them is Novel’s own deposition for his lawsuit against Playboy magazine. There he mentioned his many and long conversations with Allen Dulles. In that sworn deposition he also admitted he communicated by telegram with Richard Helms. (DiEugenio, p. 429) In my footnotes, I also source a police interview in which Gordon admitted he stole pieces of evidence from Garrison’s office.

Litwin also writes that the CIA did nothing to interfere with Garrison’s inquiry. (Litwin, p. 321) In my book I go into detail with declassified documents showing how the Agency planned and executed this interference. (DiEugenio, pp. 269–78)

Litwin has to do this because this massive interference-which came on the instructions of no less than Richard Helms-would suggest the Agency was worried about what Garrison would turn up to incriminate them. (DiEugenio, p. 270) I describe how the CIA then prevented subpoenas from being honored; they directed witnesses against Shaw be talked out of their stories; and how Bob Tanenbaum saw documents from Helms’ office that directed Garrison’s witnesses be surveilled and harassed. Which they were. (DiEugenio, pp. 271–98, 294)

Incredibly, Litwin tries to say that Shaw’s lawyers got no cooperation from either the CIA or the FBI. Perhaps Litwin did not know about the Angleton’s office "black tape” operation, revealed here for the first time. He he also leaves out the fact that Shaw’s lead lawyer, Irvin Dymond, met with the CIA station chief in New Orleans with approval from CIA HQ. (DiEugenio, p. 277) This was apparently done because in the fall of 1967 Ray Rocca, Jim Angleton’s point man on Garrison, predicted that Shaw would be convicted if all proceeded as it was. (DiEugenio, p. 270) After Dymond’s meeting, the CIA sent out memos about how they were now committed to this effort and task forces would be set up, including tasks to be done by the local New Orleans office. (DiEugenio, p. 277) The FBI joined in this by the aforementioned wiretapping of Garrison’s office. And on the eve of the Shaw trial they agreed to help the defense (DiEugenio, p.293) This covert aid is something that Shaw’s lawyers would not admit to. I know because Irvin Dymond lied to me about it in his office in 1994.

The way that Litwin frantically dodges this issue reminded of the old adage: if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it fall? Yes it did. And Litwin can deny it all he wants. But its right there for anyone with eyes and ears to witness.

At the end of this sorry book, if one knows what really happened in New Orleans, one has to ask: What kind of a mind and sensibility would go to such lengths to camouflage it all? Who today would trust people like Rosemary James or Shaw’s lawyers? What kind of a writer would go out of his way to use the political dog whistles of homophobia and anti-Semitism to the unprecedented extent Litwin does? When, in fact, Garrison never brought up the first, and there was no reason for him to bring up the second?

Those questions can only be answered by reviewing Litwin’s first book, which is about his political conversion. Looming in the background of that psychic transformation is the figure of David Horowitz. With the dropping of that name, I now understood that Litwin’s work is not meant to be data or research based. It is fundamentally political. Fred Litwin is a culture warrior.

Click here for Fred Litwin, On the Trail of Delusion – Part Two.

Click here for Fred Litwin: Culture Warrior.

Last modified on Thursday, 04 March 2021 07:26
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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