Tuesday, 16 June 2009 14:43

Lamar Waldron, with Thom Hartmann, Legacy of Secrecy - Update

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Jim DiEugenio discusses reactions to his review of Lamar Waldron's Legacy of Secrecy.

My review of Legacy of Secrecy was cross-posted at various sites on the web. And Ed Sherry did a mass mailing of it to his large JFK list. This caused some interesting feedback.

First off, there was a primary witness involved who can shed some light on how President Kennedy felt about the contingency plans. Some of which, like OPLAN 312, I specifically mentioned in my review. Sherry was temporarily based at Homestead AFB in Florida in November of 1962. He was an Army Intelligence officer who monitored the plans and kept track of all circulating copies from dawn to dusk. While in Florida on TDY from Virginia, he was temporary custodian of all 48 copies of the Contingency Plan for two weeks. He knew the subject well as he had typed in many of the revisions and addendums to the original plan. When Kennedy visited the base in late November of 1962, it was Sherry who typed the briefing for him on the plan. About ten days after Kennedy left Florida, Sherry recalls getting a classified code word to cancel the plans and return home. Kennedy was going to keep his word to the Russians about his no invasion pledge of Cuba. Sherry recalls that there were a lot of unhappy officers when JFK canceled the plans. Recall, these were contingency plans JFK was cancelling.

Second, another reader sent Sherry an e-mail concerning my review. Recall, according to Waldron and Hartmann, the coup was set for December 1, 1963. According to a CIA cable, the plotter in chief, Juan Almeida, was on a flight to Algeria on November 28th. He was the head of a 162 man Cuban delegation that had been arranged well in advance. This is incredible. What are we to believe in light of it? Almeida was going to run the coup and its resulting chaos from Africa? Further, this reader said the National Security Agency was monitoring traffic in Cuba closely at the time. They detected nothing suspicious going on there.

But it's even worse than that. The reader (who wishes to remain anonymous) told Waldron about this a long time ago. And in fact, when I learned this, it did ring a bell with me. And sure enough, it is in Legacy of Secrecy. On page 280, Waldron and Hartmann mention the flight to Algeria. Ignoring the fact that the trip had been prearranged, they now try to say that Almeida left because Castro suspected something was going on. But what is the evidence he suspected Almeida? The authors list none. So why did Almeida leave if the coup was to take place within 72 hours, and he was to be running it from the island? If you can believe it, and you probably can, the authors never answer that question. They never even pose it. Since the evidence indicates that Almeida left because there was no coup scheduled, and he was not a part of it. In their nearly fanatical clinging to a discredited theory, Hartmann and Waldron remind us of the likes of David Belin, David Slawson and, even worse, John McAdams.

But perhaps even more shameful is the way their promoters cling to it also. In my review of Legacy of Secrecy, I mentioned one of them: Mark Crispin Miller. I also could have mentioned another, Gore Vidal. I know through two sources that Miller read my review of Ultimate Sacrifice. This did not stop him from promoting that book on his blog. And he later also praised Legacy of Secrecy. And in terms that are rather unrestrained. (In fact, they remind me of the bought and paid for movie blurbs that adorn the ads for so many lousy films these days.) Take this for example: "Legacy of Secrecy is the astounding sequel to their Ultimate Sacrifice, which came out in 2005; and this new volume is as thorough and meticulous in its research as it ground-breaking predecessor." Further on, Miller writes, "...the authors demonstrate that the long suppression of the facts about Jack Kennedy 's murder set the stage for the killings, five years later, of both Martin Luther King Jr., and Bobby Kennedy."

All of this breathless hyperbole makes me ask a sensible question: Did Miller read the books? As I discussed in my review of the latter book, the authors demonstrate no linkage between C-Day and the murders of King and RFK. How the heck could there be? The book says Ray killed King, and the weight of the evidence dictates that Sirhan killed Robert Kennedy. Was Ray in on C-Day? Was Sirhan?

And the last word I would use to describe the work of Hartmann and Waldron is "meticulous". Even worse is " ground-breaking". What ground did they break? As I mentioned in my review of Legacy of Secrecy, Gus Russo wrote about the contingency plans years before Waldron and Hartmann did. And as I and others have proven nine ways to Sunday, the authors grievously mischaracterize them. And by doing so, they create a false theory, actually a misleading mythology. As for being meticulous, how can Miller write that with a straight face? What kind of meticulous writers deliberately disguise the source for Edwin Black's wonderful work on the Chicago Plot? And once that is done, the same writers twist that work into something it is not. What kind of authors don't even look up the proper date of Jim Garrison's flight to New York with Russell Long? And then attribute something to those two men that could not have happened if they got the date right? Is hiding the name of Bernardo DeTorres from the reader "meticulous"? Is then altering his background from a dyed-in-the-wool CIA officer to a protÈgÈ of Trafficante meticulous? Yes, in one way it is: its meticulously misleading.

Miller's mindless praise for these two awful books is so skewed that it made me wonder if he, like Waldron and Hartmann, had an agenda. It turns out he does. And like Vidal, it is to denigrate Oliver Stone's film JFK. Consider the following: "...the authors show that that long cover-up was driven not by an enormous dark alliance of complicit US agencies and corporations ... but by a lot of entities compelled by motives infinitely more prosaic. (Bobby also helped maintain the cover-up.)" Further on, Miller continues that although there was a conspiracy and the Warren Commission was a crock, "all such secrecy was not proof of complicity, as Oliver Stone would have us all believe ... Rather, that cover-up but [sic] motivated by a raft of other, largely more innocuous ... concerns ..."

Of course, this is exactly what I wrote that the aim of Ultimate Sacrifice was. After my long analysis of how these "meticulous" researchers had altered the evidence, I concluded that they did this to detract from the real evidentiary trail and confabulate out of whole cloth an already discredited one: Robert Blakey's Mafia did it theory. But they tried to disguise this around their phony C-Day scenario. Which has now collapsed.

But none of this matters to Miller. Why?

Because he has enlisted in the Noam Chomsky/Alex Cockburn ranks. Like them, he styles himself a leader of the Left. And he explains how that fits into his agenda about these two volumes: "These books are absolute must-reads because they liberate us from the dangerous assumption ... that anyone who dares to speak up for the good will be cut down by violence, at the hands of an almighty, inescapable cabal. That fatalistic view is one that we cannot afford to hold-and one that is, in fact, unfounded, as these two books so powerfully demonstrate."

The last thing I would say is that these two books "powerfully demonstrate" their thesis. I have demonstrated that in detail. When the Cuban coup leader is in Africa, you have some problems. When neither the Secretary of Defense, or State, or National Security Adviser or Director of Plans for the CIA knows about your upcoming invasion, you have more problems. When your chief "confessor" is suffering from Alzheimer's while a jailhouse informant is coaxing him, well, that's the ball game.

But, like Chomsky and Cockburn, this is beside the point for Miller. Facts don't matter. And if facts don't matter, then truth doesn't matter either. Why? Because he knows what is good for the progressive public. And if they need to be served up pabulum, so be it.

I disagree with Miller. But I agree with Bob Tanenbaum, the first Chief Counsel of the JFK investigation for the House Select Committee on Assassinations. And he knows a heck of a lot more about the JFK case than Miller or Vidal do. During a speech in Chicago in 1993, he outlined how the CIA, and especially David Phillips, obstructed his investigation into Oswald's activities in Mexico City. And when he wanted to confront Phillips with perjury charges the committee backed down. He ended his speech by posing this question: "Does anybody really believe that certain people in the executive intelligence agencies are more equipped to handle the truth than the American people? If so, then we will redefine the nature of our democracy. And that's something I'm not prepared to do."

That's the real question about all this. The question that Waldron and Hartmann wish to disguise. The question that the likes of Miller and Robert Stone don't think the American public can handle. So in this regard, and with an almost cosmic irony, Stone and Miller resemble the former heads of the major networks, i.e. Bill Paley and David Sarnoff. Except the pabulum that Waldron and Hartmann give the public is not the old pig in a poke of the Warren Commission. But Blakey's Mob did it pig. A pig with lipstick, eye shadow, and mascara.

But only someone either too ignorant or too willing to be gulled would have been taken in by the makeover.

Last modified on Wednesday, 02 November 2016 22:57
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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