Reactions from readers on the web
From John Kelin, 3 July 2000
John Kelin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: your page
I recently looked at your JFK page, in particular the profiles you offer of some of the leading critics, and I must say that in my view much of what you present is misleading and unfair.
As a case in point, consider the summary you offer on Sylvia Meagher:
"...Sylvia Meagher was a leftist and untrained in the art of investigating, a person who didn¹t consider evidence that ran counter to her position, who transferred a passion for flying saucers to a passion for the JFK assassination, whose leftism leaned her toward an answer very early, and who found that answer nurtured by the influence of Mark Lane."
What's wrong with this picture?
Your comments about Meagher are so biased I hardly know where to begin. For one thing you cribbed shamelessly from Richard Warren Lewis, who wrote probably the most meaningless book on the entire case. Your allegation about Meagher and "a passion for flying saucers" is an obvious smear, as if an interest in UFOs were not legitimate. More important is the attempt --- I consider it a dirty trick worthy of Nixon --- of linking someone capable of seeing through the transparant rubbish of the Warren Commission (and articulating and documenting it brilliantly) with a belief in the cliche of little green men. In any case, even if it were true, you don't offer a shred of evidence beyond a dubious quotation from Lewis, attributed to Epstein. You say she "came from a background of UFOs." What does that mean?
Second, you say she was "untrained in the art of investigating." Prove it. You offer no evidence. And in any case the validity of her work is plain from reading "Accessories" and her index. In any case, where were the people who *were* trained? Look at what they produced!
And who cares what Meagher's political leanings were? So what if Left-oriented people led the way? Where was the right? While we're at it, why don't you tell your readers about your own political affiliations? Perhaps because they don't matter, are irrelevant to the larger issues?
Incredibly, you quote a passage from "Accessories" and present it as if there is something wrong with it: "She wanted an 'end to the cold war and a beginning of genuine peace, for equality and mutual respect among men, for the rule of law and an end to brute violence.'" Do you have a problem with that?
You quote Shirley Harris Martin thusly: "There's this bitterness against the Kennedys..." This is Lewis again. I know Shirley Martin, and know that she considers the people she met through her own JFK investigation some of the best and most selfless people she's ever known. She includes Sylvia Meagher, by the way. I would include Shirley in that category.
I use Sylvia Meagher only as one case in point. I never had the privilege of knowing her and so I have no special interest in defending her against your smears. But that your comments come in what is supposed to, apparently, be some sort of online college course is profoundly offensive to me. Don't you think you should keep your own opinions, or at least these obvously personal/political ones, to yourself?
Sincerely, John Kelin
Truth, n. An ingenious compound of desirability and appearance.
-- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"
My reply, same day
To: John Kelin <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: your page
Believe it or not, I thank you for your letter, for criticism always keeps me on my toes. If I find that I have been too harsh on anyone, I will soften the appropriate sections. I will also try to offer some sort of reply in the coming days.
Best regards, Ken Rahn
My reply, 11 July 2000
Here is my letter with some comments on yours of 3 July. Perhaps it can stimulate some further reasoned discussion.
First off, I knew that this biographical sketch of Sylvia Meagher would be attacked by members of the JFK critical community, for they regard her as an icon (which she surely is to their cause). My only surprise is that it took several months for the first one (yours) to arrive. I suspected that the attacks would be emotional and unsupported, and yours was indeed so. Let me give a few examples of why your message doesn't do the job that it appears to, and then perhaps you can respond.
Strong language without factual backup, as your message is, must be considered solely as opinion until something more substantial is provided. I have a general rule of thumb that the stronger the language is, especially when unsupported by solid evidence, the less backup the writer or speaker probably has, i.e., the weaker the argument really is. By that standard, you have little or nothing. I invite you to prove me wrong. Words and phrases like "so biased," "cribbed shamelessly," "obvious smear," "transparant rubbish" (with "transparent" misspelled), "[not a] shred of evidence," and "profoundly offensive" tell me how little backup you have.
You write "For one thing you cribbed shamelessly from Richard Warren Lewis, who wrote probably the most meaningless book on the entire case." Here we have two separate assertions. The first concerns the worth of Warren's book, which assertion must be considered strictly opinion. The second is essentially that any statement from a meaningless book must also be meaningless, which of course does not follow. And equating quoting with "cribbing shamelessly" is highly pejorative, to say the least.
Your strong reaction to my notes about Meagher and UFOs was most interesting. I have seen it before in JFK conspiracists, who often are exceedingly reluctant to have the two subjects raised in the same breath. Yet, is it not true that many of the web sites that deal with JFK also deal with UFOs? Even major JFK figures like Jim Marrs are strongly concerned with UFOs. Let us not deny the contemporary fact that the two subjects hold a similar attraction for many people.
Big overreaction: your "More important is the attempt --- I consider it a dirty trick worthy of Nixon --- of linking someone capable of seeing through the transparant rubbish of the Warren Commission (and articulating and documenting it brilliantly) with a belief in the cliche of little green men." I said nothing about "little green men." Those are your words. I said only UFO's and flying saucers and gave no indication as to whether Meagher thought they were real. You are providing a false target by putting words in my mouth and then attacking them.
You challenged me to prove that Sylvia Meagher was "untrained in the art of investigating." How about her own words? In a direct quote on page 74 of Warren's book, she is reported as saying, "I am not a trained investigator of any kind." If you have anything in print by Mrs. Meagher that refutes this quote, please let me know. You see, I don't write statements like "untrained in the art of investigating" without backup.
"And in any case the validity of her work is plain from reading 'Accessories' and her index." Again your opinion only. I will show below a couple of cases where the *in*validity of her work was plain from reading.
"In any case, where were the people who *were* trained? Look at what they produced!" Again this is your opinion without any backup. You can't use opinion as evidence, as you are trying to do.
"So what if Left-oriented people led the way? Where was the right?" These two questions again assume that your explanation of the assassination is correct. You can't use opinion as evidence. To the first question, I would answer that it is historical fact that (a) the great majority of early Warren critics were from the Left; and (b) their case has not yet been proven. I consider it a legitimate and interesting question why so many leftists immediately cried conspiracy. Are you trying to avoid dealing with this? To the second question, I would merely point out the obvious answer that the Right may have remained silent because they recognized the essential validity of the Commission's verdict, which still after 36 years has not been overturned, or else we wouldn't be having this discussion. Face the obvious implication that the Right was right.
My first impression of Meagher's "Accessories After The Fact," which remains to this day, is one of harshness concerning others' conclusions in areas that are either unresolved or misunderstood by her. In other words, the others are all stupid or conniving even though she doesn't have the right answer. I'm sure I don't have to remind you of the invalidity of this view. Her treatment of spectrography and neutron-activation analysis (NAA) is basically taken from other critics, for she was untrained in those areas. Her passages on both (pages 172-174) are completely flawed, almost to the word. (NAA is my professional field.) Her vigorous call for NAA to settle the questions raised by the spectroscopy has now been rewarded by two sets of data that show fragments from two and only two MC bullets--nothing else (full explanation to come later this summer, I hope). Her overly strident tone on the backward lurch shown in the Zapruder film, to the point of mocking those who dared hold a contrary opinion, is also at odds with physics and frame-by-frame analysis of the film. If she approached other subjects in the way she did these two, her book, though revered by conspiracists because it says what they like to hear, must be considered heavily flawed.
I could go on about how you omitted the positive things I said about Sylvia Meagher, the overall outline of my biographical summary of her, and the multiple errors of investigating that she herself admitted, but I won't bother because anyone interested can see for themselves at http://karws.gso.uri.edu/PSC482g/Spring2000/The_critics/Meagher/Meagherbio.html .
In conclusion, you have shown me strong emotion and strong language but weak command of the facts, especially the unpleasant ones, and almost complete lack of logic. This aspect of your message is typical of those I see from the JFK critical community, and it illustrates perfectly what happens when feelings are allowed to overrun disciplined thinking. No wonder the JFK critical movement remains in a deep quagmire--they made it themselves and show no inclination to do the tough things required to break out of it.
His reply, 14 July 2000
Thank you for your reply.
I felt and still feel that your remarks about Sylvia Meagher were unfair, and intentionally so. Your long reply to me at least has the virtue of being honest, since you lay your cards on the table as to your point of view on the assassination.
<<Strong language without factual backup, as your message is, must be considered solely as opinion until something more substantial is provided. I have a general rule of thumb that the stronger the language is, especially when unsupported by solid evidence, the less backup the writer > or speaker probably has, i.e., the weaker the argument really is. By that standard, you have little or nothing. I invite you to prove me wrong. Words and phrases like "so biased," "cribbed shamelessly," "obvious smear," "transparant rubbish" (with "transparent" misspelled), "[not a] shred of evidence," and "profoundly offensive" tell me how little backup you have. You write "For one thing you cribbed shamelessly from Richard Warren Lewis, who wrote probably the most meaningless book on the entire case." Here we have two separate assertions. The first concerns the worth of Warren's book, which assertion must be considered strictly opinion. The second is essentially that any statement from a meaningless book must also be meaningless, which of course does not follow. And equating quoting with "cribbing shamelessly" is highly pejorative, to say the least.>>
Thank you for correcting my misspelled word. Thank you, too, for insight into your means and measures of evaluating my comments.
The term "shamelessly cribbed" was wrong, and I apologize for using it. I re-read this portion and you did attribute much of what you wrote to Lewis and Schiller. Also you are to be commended for making some of Meagher's magazine articles available.
But the point is that "The Scavengers and Critics" is a dishonest book. As you may know, Mark Lane wrote rather extensively about this in his own "A Citizen's Dissent." He recounts how interviews with him were arranged and carried out in a less that forthright manner. As you may also know, "The Scavengers" grew out of an earlier project, a record album entitled "The Controversy," which among other things had interviews, recorded on his deathbed, with Jack Ruby. Lawrence Schiller, who is called the investigator for "The Scavengers," acted as Ruby's business agent. This is an obvious conflict of interest.
Furthermore, I have it directly from Shirley Harris Martin and Ray Marcus --- and Lane writes about it, too --- that their interviews for the book (actually it was first a magazine article) were obtained under false pretenses. Ray Marcus tells me that he was, to put it mildly, rather upset --- not only at how he was portrayed in the book, but that he had been duped. His longtime associate Maggie Field was similarly duped and similarly upset.
This is the book that appears to have been one of your main sources.
<<Your strong reaction to my notes about Meagher and UFOs was most interesting. I have seen it before in JFK conspiracists, who often are exceedingly reluctant to have the two subjects raised in the same breath. Yet, is it not true that many of the web sites that deal with JFK also deal with UFOs?>>
I wouldn't know. I can tell you, however, that my own JFK site does not.
I might talk about apples and oranges in the same breath, but the two are not related, are they?
But the point is that *you* were raising the issue for no apparent reason. You say that Meagher had a background in UFOs. I repeat: what does that mean? You were linking one controversial issue (UFOs) with another, unrelated issue (JFK's assassination). As a reader, it seemed to me the sole purpose was to raise questions about Meagher and to make her look flakey.
That is the significance of linking these two issues.
You are an educated man, a scientist, so you know this.
Why did you do this?
<<Let us not deny the contemporary fact that the two subjects hold a similar attraction for many people.>>
Hold it right there. Above, you use the phrase "Strong language without factual backup." Where is your factual backup for the assertion that these two subjects hold similar attraction for many people?
<<Big overreaction: your "More important is the attempt --- I consider it a dirty trick worthy of Nixon --- of linking someone capable of seeing through the transparant rubbish of the Warren Commission (and articulating and documenting it brilliantly) with a belief in the cliche of little green men." I said nothing about "little green men." Those are your words. I said only UFO's and flying saucers and gave no indication as to whether Meagher thought they were real. You are providing a false target by putting words in my mouth and then attacking them.>>
How does this put words into your mouth? You first linked the two unrelated issues. Not me.
I concede that the part about "dirty tricks" was my anger speaking.
<<You challenged me to prove that Sylvia Meagher was "untrained in the art of investigating." How about her own words? In a direct quote on page 74 of Warren's book, she is reported as saying, "I am not a trained investigator of any kind." If you have anything in print by Mrs. Meagher that refutes this quote, please let me know. You see, I don't write statements like "untrained in the art of investigating" without backup.>>
Okay. You got me there. I haven't looked up your quote, but I'll trust you on this one.
Now, where is your backup for the assertion that "the two subjects hold a similar attraction for many people"?
<<"So what if Left-oriented people led the way? Where was the right?" These two questions again assume that your explanation of the assassination is correct. You can't use opinion as evidence. To the first question, I would answer that it is historical fact that (a) the great majority of early Warren critics were from the Left; and (b) their case has not yet been proven. I consider it a legitimate and interesting question why so many leftists immediately cried conspiracy. Are you trying to avoid dealing with this? To the second question, I would merely point out the obvious answer that the Right may have remained silent because they recognized the essential validity of the Commission's verdict, which still after 36 years has not been overturned, or else we wouldn't be having this discussion. Face the obvious implication that the Right was right.>>
"The Right was right." Very clever rhetoric, but here you are doing what you accuse me of doing. Where is your factual backup? You are using opinion as evidence.
(a) "The great majority of early Warren critics were from the left." Perhaps. But you can't just say this. You can't just call it a historical fact without factual backup.
(b) "Their case has not yet been proven." Here, I disagree. (Interesting that you say "yet"!)
I would direct you to the following essay: http://home.rmi.net/~jkelin/vs_text.html
Vince Salandria, who wrote this essay, states (elsewhere) that the most receptive audiences he found to his message, which as early as the mid-sixties was that JFK was killed by a conspiracy organized at the center of US power, were those on the right. This would include rotary clubs and Young Republican organizations. In his experience, most on the so-called left were terrified into silence due to Oswald's supposed leftist credentials.
By way of illustration, I have a tape recording of a "debate" in December 1964 between Mark Lane, WC attorney Joseph Ball, the ACLU's A.L. Wirin, and a third prominent (in Los Angeles, where the forum was staged) attorney named Herman Selvin. (Meagher, FYI, mentions this in "Accessories," if you're interested.) On this recording, made just a few months after the WR was published and just a week or two after the Hearings were published, Wirin expresses relief that the left was in effect let off the hook for responsibility in the assassiation. He apparently feared a pogrom. He notes that the WC Report says no one on "the left" had anything to do with the assassination. The statement, he said, saves "all of us here who are left of center from the venom of the rightists, this statement protects us all." Amusing if it weren't so tragic. Wirin was with the ACLU. The Dallas ACLU left Oswald dangling without representation. This is a fact: but to paraphrase Ray Marcus, this man of the left's imagined scenario could only have resulted from an honest investigation that had undesired conclusions.
By the way, the Lane-Ball-et al "debate" referred to is the one in which Joseph Ball called Helen Markham "an utter screwball." And she was a witness whose testimony the WC called probative!
<< In conclusion, you have shown me strong emotion and strong language but weak command of the facts, especially the unpleasant ones, and almost complete lack of logic. This aspect of your message is typical of those I see from the JFK critical community, and it illustrates perfectly what happens when feelings are allowed to overrun disciplined thinking. No wonder the JFK critical movement remains in a deep quagmire--they made it themselves and show no inclination to do the tough things required to break out of it.>>
I appreciate this comment.
I wonder about your own command of the basic facts of the case. I wonder how you reconcile the differences between evidence presented in the Warren Report, which in many, many instances is contradicted by the raw data of the Hearings and Exhibits. It isn't just Meagher here. Get a copy of the Report and a set of the Hearings and Exhibits and check it out for yourself.
The last time I looked at your site I noticed you had a link to my "bibliography." Please remove it. A casual reader might get the erroneous impression that I approve of, and/or endorse, your site.
Merrily, John Kelin
--Truth, n. An ingenious compound of desirability and appearance.
-- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"
My reply, 19 July 2000
Thanks for your reply of 14 July 2000. But after reading it carefully, I'm not sure that it advances our discussion, for it contains just as many errors the first, even though some are buried a little more deeply than before and are thus harder to spot. Collectively they result in your not answering my points. I note in particular that you left alone my major criticism of Sylvia Meagher's "Accessories After the Fact," which was probably wise. If this is all that you, presumably one of the more literate JFK researchers, can do, then I understand why the field remains so mired in a morass of its own creation. I don't expect you to take these remarks without backup, however, so I will address several of your points explicitly.
<<I felt and still feel that your remarks about Sylvia Meagher were unfair, and intentionally so.>>
One more timefeelings have no place in critical thinking. You are free to *feel* that my remarks were unfair, and maybe even intentionally that way, but that is unrelated to whether they actually were unfair. If you want to provide hard evidence in support of your feelings, we can proceed.
<<Your long reply to me at least has the virtue of being honest, since you lay your cards on the table as to your point of view on the assassination.>>
My "point of view" is irrelevant. The only thing that matters are the aspects of the assassination that can be proven or disproven by classical procedures. I tried to deal with those points.
<<Thank you, too, for insight into your means and measures of evaluating my comments.>>
They are not *my* means and measures, but rather those of classical critical reasoning, tested and refined over centuries. We are not talking about me, but about agreed-upon ways to think correctly. I have no original ideas on the subject, for there are no more. Until the field of JFK "research" comes to terms with these classical procedures, it will go nowhere.
<<But the point is that "The Scavengers and Critics" is a dishonest book.>>
This remark is too general to be useful. "Dishonest" is such a broad term that it cannot be applied to any specific parts of the book without committing the fallacy of "Accident," which means applying a general term or concept to something specific for which it is not warranted. For example, if I cite the passage on page 23 of the hardcover edition where the authors write "Lane commits the error of completely ignoring the fallibility of ear-witness testimony, as well as the peculiar acoustical arrangement of Dealey Plaza," are you allowed to claim that this criticism is not to be considered because "the book is dishonest"? Of course not. We must consider the statement on its own merits. In order for your claim of dishonesty to be useful, you must show in what specific ways the book is dishonest and which specific parts of it are negated. Until you do that, your sentence is useless.
<<As you may know, Mark Lane wrote rather extensively about this in his own "A Citizen's Dissent." He recounts how interviews with him were arranged and carried out in a less that forthright manner. As you may also know, "The Scavengers" grew out of an earlier project, a record album entitled "The Controversy," which among other things had interviews, recorded on his deathbed, with Jack Ruby. Lawrence Schiller, who is called the investigator for "The Scavengers," acted as Ruby's business agent. This is an obvious conflict of interest.>>
See my previous comment. All these sentences are too general to seriously affect how we view the contents of the book.
<<Furthermore, I have it directly from Shirley Harris Martin and Ray Marcus --- and Lane writes about it, too --- that their interviews for the book (actually it was first a magazine article) were obtained under false pretenses. Ray Marcus tells me that he was, to put it mildly, rather upset --- not only at how he was portrayed in the book, but that he had been duped. His longtime associate Maggie Field was similarly duped and similarly upset.>>
False pretenses don't automatically make anyone's responses to questions wrong. You must provide specifics.
<<This is the book that appears to have been one of your main sources.>>
See above paragraphs. Viewed as a whole, the book is much more solid than you have tried to portray it. I can document this if you wish.
KAR: Yet, is it not true that many of the web sites that deal with JFK also deal with UFOs?
JK: I wouldn't know.
I am surprised that you plead ignorance on such an interesting and important aspect of JFK "research" without trying to inform yourself about it. Here's how to get the answer in just a few minutes. Open your web browser and go to Google (http://www.google.com). Type in "JFK UFO." Google will then search for all sites that mention JFK and UFOs. You'd better stand back, for there seem to be hundreds of them. (I didn't count, though.) You will then appreciate how many people speak of the "JFK conspiracy" and the "UFO conspiracy" in the same breath.
<<I can tell you, however, that my own JFK site does not.>>
Not a response to the point being made.
<<I might talk about apples and oranges in the same breath, but the two are not related, are they?>>
Both are fruits. Many things are related at one level below the obvious.
<<But the point is that *you* were raising the issue for no apparent reason. You say that Meagher had a background in UFOs. I repeat: what does that mean?>>
I'm surprised you raise this point again, for I gave the reason on the web page--I was trying to describe Sylvia Meagher objectively by mentioning facts about her that the JFK community has preferred to gloss over.
<<You were linking one controversial issue (UFOs) with another, unrelated issue (JFK's assassination). As a reader, it seemed to me the sole purpose was to raise questions about Meagher and to make her look flakey.>>
False. The answer, on the web page, was to describe her objectively. My reason may have "seemed" otherwise to you, but that's because (a) you ignored the web page, and (b) you cannot look into another person's mind reliably.
<<That is the significance of linking these two issues.
You are an educated man, a scientist, so you know this.
Why did you do this?>>
See paragraphs above. Answered twice already.
KAR: Let us not deny the contemporary fact that the two subjects hold a similar attraction for many people.
JK: Hold it right there. Above, you use the phrase "Strong language without factual backup." Where is your factual backup for the assertion that these two subjects hold similar attraction for many people?
See the paragraph above that describes how to use Google. I note also that well-known JFK people who either came from UFOs or gravitated to them later include Sylvia Meagher, Jack White, Paris Flammonde, Jim Marrs, William Cooper, and Richard Belzer. There may be still more that I don't know about.
KAR: Big overreaction: your "More important is the attempt --- I consider it a dirty trick worthy of Nixon --- of linking someone capable of seeing through the transparant rubbish of the Warren Commission (and articulating and documenting it brilliantly) with a belief in the cliche of little green men." I said nothing about "little green men." Those are your words. I said only UFO's and flying saucers and gave no indication as to whether Meagher thought they were real. You are providing a false target by putting words in my mouth and then attacking them.
JK: How does this put words into your mouth? You first linked the two unrelated
issues. Not me.
Isn't this obvious? "Putting words in my mouth" clearly refers to your phrase "little green men" rather than my mentioning JFK and UFOs together. Come on.
<<Now, where is your backup for the assertion that "the two subjects hold a similar attraction for many people"?>>
See above. Answered two or three times already.
<<(a) "The great majority of early Warren critics were from the left." Perhaps. But you can't just say this. You can't just call it a historical fact without factual backup.>>
You should save your challenges for answers that are genuinely in dispute. Here is a quick, rough list of early critics (within the first few years after the Warren Report was released): Lane, multiple USSR writers in "New Times," Salandria, Sauvage, Meagher, Marcus, Feldman, Schoenman, Russell, Epstein, Evica, Galanor, Oliver, Mailer, Buchanan, Joesten, and Flammonde. That's 17, of which 16 were from the Left.
<<(b) "Their case has not yet been proven." Here, I disagree. (Interesting that you say "yet"!)>>
Had their case (conspiracy) been proven, we would not continue to have the proliferation of theories, the annual meetings that rally people to the cause, and even discussions like this. Names would have been named and actions taken against any conspirators still living.
I wouldn't make much of "yet" if I were you. It simply means that I am keeping my mind open about someday proving conspiracy.
<<Vince Salandria, who wrote this essay, states (elsewhere) that the most receptive audiences he found to his message, which as early as the mid-sixties was that JFK was killed by a conspiracy organized at the center of US power, were those on the right. This would include rotary clubs and Young Republican organizations.>>
Maybe so, but they weren't convinced enough to speak out or publish. The Leftists did that. If you keep answering different points than I raised, I'm going to get discouraged about taking the time to respond to you.
<<In his experience, most on the so-called left were terrified into silence due to Oswald's supposed leftist credentials.>>
Again, that may be so, but it once again does not address the point being made, namely that the activists were leftists. Why was it the leftists who so quickly cried conspiracy?
<<By way of illustration, I have a tape recording of a "debate" in December 1964 between Mark Lane, WC attorney Joseph Ball, the ACLU's A.L. Wirin, and a third prominent (in Los Angeles, where the forum was staged) attorney named Herman Selvin. (Meagher, FYI, mentions this in "Accessories," if you're interested.) On this recording, made just a few months after the WR was published and just a week or two after the Hearings were published, Wirin expresses relief that the left was in effect let off the hook for responsibility in the assassiation. He apparently feared a pogrom. He notes that the WC Report says no one on "the left" had anything to do with the assassination. The statement, he said, saves "all of us here who are left of center from the venom of the rightists, this statement protects us all." Amusing if it weren't so tragic. Wirin was with the ACLU. The Dallas ACLU left Oswald dangling without representation.>>
Wirin reacted prematurely. He evidently did not anticipate that Oswald would be viewed as a Leftist. The Leftists who tried to blame it on Rightists understood that. More generally, it seems that the assassination evoked strong reactions in opposite directions from Leftistssome took cover and others of more courage spoke out.
<<By the way, the Lane-Ball-et al "debate" referred to is the one in which Joseph Ball called Helen Markham "an utter screwball." And she was a witness whose testimony the WC called probative!>>
Unrelated to the subjects we are discussing. Do you offer it as an example of the WC's many errors? If so, are you willing to discuss which errors matter and which don't? Before you enter a discussion of Helen Markham, don't forget that the Tippit slaying has such strong physical evidence, stronger than the JFK slaying does, that Mrs. Markham's testimony hardly matters.
<<I wonder about your own command of the basic facts of the case.>>
Ah, the ultimate jab! As noted at the beginning, you are free to doubt and wonder about anything you wish. But it will not take the place of supplying facts. This particular question is also tangent to the topics we are discussing, and is so general as to be nearly worthless.
<<I wonder how you reconcile the differences between evidence presented in the Warren Report, which in many, many instances is contradicted by the raw data of the Hearings and Exhibits. It isn't just Meagher here. Get a copy of the Report and a set of the Hearings and Exhibits and check it out for yourself.>>
Again a comment so general as to be nearly worthless. It is not my job to ferret out things that you consider to be meaningful contradictions. If you wish to raise any of them and present them fairly, I will respond.
<<The last time I looked at your site I noticed you had a link to my "bibliography." Please remove it. A casual reader might get the erroneous impression that I approve of, and/or endorse, your site.>>
Surely you jest. *I* choose whom and what I will link to, not you. You do the same for your site. My linking to your site implies nothing about whether you would ever link to mine--the two are logically unrelated. By the way, I linked to your bibliography because I considered it a good starting point for the students.
<<Merrily, John Kelin>>
I don't see why you are merry--you didn't substantiate any of your points.
From Shep Montgomery, 6 July 2000
"Shepard G. Montgomery" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hee hee.. how is a jfk course taught out of the oceangraphy dept.? cool.
Shepard G. Montgomery
Jackson, MS USA
My reply, same day
I can't tell whether your question is serious. If it is, I will answer it.
His reply, 7 July
No, I am serious. I apologize for the terseness of the question.
My reply, same day
I am an atmospheric chemist at our Graduate School of Oceanography, but teach this course in the Political Science Department. I first became interested in the assassination in the spring of 1992 when I caught part of a local TV program with Mark Lane describing his new book "Plausible Denial." I bought the book and didn't understand it. (That was before I understood how Lane thinks and writes.) That June, I got the laser disc version of "JFK" and like so many others, became a conspiracist on the strength of Kennedy's backward lurch after being hit in the head. Unlike many others, however, I tested my belief later that summer by playing the Z-film frame by frame. Then it all started to unravel--I saw that the big backward motion began too late to have been from a frontal hit. Later I found the quick forward snap that preceded the rearward lurch, and I knew that the common interpretation of the lurch was unsupportable.
Since then, it has been a long, hard road. I now realize that I can use a great deal of my fundamental and detailed scientific knowledge to explain important scientific aspects of the evidence that are still widely misunderstood. Little by little, I have come to realize that contemporary JFK "research" is a vast wasteland because its practitioners break all the rules of reasoning and selecting evidence, and in so doing have created chaos where none needs to be and have confused the nation in the process. Therefore, my class emphasizes the basic procedures for the above, and I will stress them even more in the future. I am at the same time filling a deep void in the students' education, since no one previously has taught them how to think, even at the university level. Facts, yes; thinking, no.
I don't have an E-mail address for Gary Savage. You might try his publisher.
Do you do much with the assassination?
His reply, 9 July
Thanks for your generous response to my question. I'm not
sure that scientific analysis of the evidence (possibly manipulated) holds all
the answers to the crime. Even if the killing shot came from behind, what's to
prove that it was Oswald? What about a shooting team in TSBD or in the Dal-Tex.
And even if it was Oswald, what of his CIA/FBI/Cuban/mafia connections? Have
you read Peter Scott's "Deep Politics". It's by far the best
explanation, by a political scientist, of the assasination - that it was the
product of a "symbiosis" of different interests, political forces,
that wanted JFK dead - with the common denominator of Hoover pulling the
necessary strings to get it done and, most importantly, cover it up. It's a
great read, especially for someone with a poli sci background.
My reply, 11 July
Your last letter puts you on a wavelength very different from mine. The whole thing is speculation with nothing to back up the points. My mind is completely open to any solution to the crime, provided only that it be supported by validated physical evidence. Given the abundant physical evidence all pointing strongly in one direction, I see no reason for people to continue to speculate groundlessly, which is what you are doing. First of all, any hypothesis needs solid evidence in order for it to advance beyond the point of fantasy. Yours don't. Second, these kinds of thoughts have gotten the JFK community nowhere in 36 years. Every tick of the clock makes it less justifiable to continue down that long, fruitless road. Based on the available physical evidence, the working hypothesis MUST be Oswald as a lone shooter from the TSBD. Anything else is breaking the rules of basic logic. This does not prove that Oswald did it, but it is the best available explanation. The sooner that conspiracists recognize this obvious truth, the better for them and everyone else.
From Joseph Lee Johnston, 7 July 2000
Lee Johnston <Ljohnston@escrow.com>
Relative to your use of Roger Feinman's work in a study of the Kennedy assassination: You are living proof that educated, intelligent men can accrue the biases, vendettas and diatribes most often associated with high school dropouts.
The longer I live the more convinced I am that human nature is consistent with the rich the poor; the educated and ignorant; omnipotent and impotent.
I will not appeal to your sense of good taste and judgement to take your course to a higher level. You will probably remain in the gutter with those you assail: the Liftons, Meaghers, Epsteins, Marrs, Macks, et al.
Joseph Lee Johnston
My reply, same day
Dear Mr. Johnston:
Thank you for your message. Unfortunately, it was long on opinions and short on (actually, lacking in) documentation. Would you kindly be specific as to how I am displaying "the biases, vendettas and diatribes most often associated with high school dropouts"? Then maybe we could discuss this matter intelligently. I assume that you have read my rationale for making "Between the Signal and The Noise" available to the class. I assume that you have also absorbed the total orientation of the class and see how this document would fit into it. Perhaps we could begin with your telling me what precisely is wrong with that rationale, with specific documentation for your answer. If you are then so inclined, would you also show me what is factually incorrect in Roger Feinman's electronic book? My questions to you are serious, by the way--I am truly interested in your answers. Thanks in advance.
His reply, same day
Dear Professor Rahn,
Excellent response. My email totally lacked anything substantive, factual. It was a poor excuse for proper communication. I will respond with such Monday.
Before leaving: I hold acedemia to the highest standard (actually, I believe you do too).
Joseph Lee Johnston
His longer reply, 11 July 2000
Professor, I am forwarding this to you on the same
"stationary" as left over from our communication of last week.
Dear Professor Rahn,
I have just returned to my office after a protracted weekend. Having lost someone close to the family, we've had a painful three days. Also, Sunday afternoon I wound up in hospital emergency for treatment of a dog bite. Unusual, to say the least.
The events of the past few days have mellowed me. I am reminded of the fragility and brevity of life. Thus, my Friday complaint to you, although it is as valid today as then, leaves me with only a desire to ask you to proceed circumspectully today and in the days ahead.
Although I find your connection with Roger Feinman dubious and regretable, I will forego any further elaboration of the reasons why. It would be easy for me to state a case for the incongruity of a Rahn/Feinman collaboration. Rather than denigrate Mr. Feinman to you, let me simply say that I hold you to a high standard - one that precludes associations of anything or anyone less worthy than yourself. You are extremely intelligent and are blessed to have a good name and reputation in the academic community, to which a Feinman association does little to enhance.
Let me also add that I am neither an admirer nor an apologist for the David Liftons of this world. I DO, however, believe him to be intellectually honest. And because I have a like perception of you both, I will require equal honesty and integrity from Lifton and Rahn. Please consider this as you proceed with your study of the Kennedy assassination. You need nothing more than the historical record, communicated by YOU, to make your classs all it could and should be.
I sincerely wish you well.
Joseph Lee Johnston
My reply, 11 July
I have serious problems with your message of today. I thought from your previous message that I was going to receive something reasoned, but this one was certainly not.
I am puzzled by several of your remarks. First, what do you mean by "proceed circumspectly today and in the days ahead"? Please clarify. Do you mean that I should not state my mind on JFK matters when others all around me are doing that and more?
Second, I have no idea where you got that business about my supposed "connection with Roger Feinman." I remind you that I posted Feinman's book completely independent of him, and because it represented the kind of original writing on an important topic that I wanted to expose my class to (the nature of JFK critics). I also validated Feinman's statements on the Lifton-Meagher correspondence before he even knew that I was going to visit Hood College. I have no connection with him other than a few E-mails over several months. I have never met him or talked with him. There is no Rahn/Feinman collaboration. Please don't make up things that aren't there. If you wish to try to "denigrate" him, do it by finding important things in "Between The Signal and The Noise" that are wrong, not in any other way.
Your idea of my not associating with "anything or anyone less worthy than me" sounds noble on the surface but fails every test after that. Such an idea applied generally would be impossible because it would prohibit all people from associating with anyone else "beneath them." That would in turn prohibit virtually all interactions between people because practically all pairs of people would have one person associating up and the other down. More important, however, are the ideas of not associating "down" and the basic idea of categorizing people by "level," both of which I reject categorically.
You also tell me not to associate with Mr. Feinman because it would not help my reputation. If you don't know by now, let me tell you bluntly that I do not choose my associations by how they might affect any aspect of my perceived "reputation." I give little or no thought to reputation in choosing how to spend my time.
I also have no idea what you mean by "You need nothing more than the historical record, communicated by YOU, to make your class all it could and should be." Am I supposed to communicate the work of others "neutrally," i.e., without trying to evaluate it for my students? Am I supposed to not contribute anything original to understanding the case? I am very confused about what you mean. Please clarify.
20 Jul 2000
Subject: kennedy assassination
When I was a teenager I worked in a small but well known cafe here in Dallas. I never really paid attention but after the assassination of the president everyone talked about how a few of our customers: J.D. Tippett, Jack Ruby, and Lee Oswald would eat together. I don't remember seeing them... but quite a few others remembered very well... so much for my tales of Lucas B&B restaurant in Dallas in the '60s.
My reply, same day
Thank you for your remembrances of the days before the assassination. Could you please tell me who you are and why you are passing them on to me? I'm curious.
Sincerely, Ken Rahn
His reply, 21 July
My name is eric. I was just doing some history searching on Alta vista and saw your site. I thought it might be interesting to make a comment about it. I made one other comment on the 25th anniversary to a radio station when I lived in Houston. The DJ hung up on me at the time but his two secret service guests told them that they'd heard about what I was saying. Its not a thing that keeps me awake late at night thinking about... I just mention it when it crosses my mind... and your website brought it to the forefront. :)
My reply, same day
Thanks for the further information. As you know, there is considerable controversy over whether any of the three people you mentioned knew each other. From everything we know about witness testimony, especially well after the fact, we have to be very careful with it. This, my reaction to it has to be "interesting, but not probative." While someone has found an old photo of David Ferrie and Lee Oswald in a group of campers around some sort of cooking fire, I am not aware of any physical evidence that would establish your friends' reminiscences. My mind remains open to the possibility, however.
I don't know if you follow the JFK newsgroups, and I certainly don't in any detail, but I seem to remember some brief discussion some weeks ago of an eating place in Dallas that might have been this one. It was in the context of the best BBQ places in Dallas, or something like that. Someone told the story of the "old regulars: who used to eat there even though the food was not very good. Does this ring a bell with you?
Any comments on my web site?
His reply, same day
Sorry, the owner of Lucas B&B restaurant, is now diseased. As far as I know, his son and wife are still alive and they worked at the restaurant from time to time and might have seen all three eating there together... or might remember former employees that have knowledge of it.
Comments on the exchanges of messages with
This exchange of messages demoralized me because it showed yet another example of a JFK critic who (a) was sure that he had solved the whole thing where all before him had failed, and (b) when errors in procedure were pointed out to him, could not seem to understand that he needed to deal with anything other than the most superficial aspects of his "evidence." In other words, he saw no reason to think outside his own narrow limits.
From TAD6455@webtv.net (Thomas
Wed, 9 Aug 2000
My newly finised book BACKFIRE IN DALLAS is based on well documented facts surrounding President Kennedys assassination. And explains in detail how President Kennedys death was the end result of one of the Kennedy administrations CIA-MAFIA plots against Fidel Castro which BACKFIRED ! A plot in which LHO played a very key role in. And which according to testimony by CIA and FBI officials was being run by Robert Kennedy. This explaining why as all of the facts show, Robert Kennedy had withheld all evidence which could verify which direction the President had been shot, away from both the FBI and the Warren Commission staff, such as the autopsy x-rays and photos ( which do not match), the Presidents brain, autopsy tissue slides of the damage inflicted on the Presidents head etc etc etc. My book is not long but does answer every mystery surrounding the assassination completely. If you would like a copy, send me an address to mail it to and I will send you a free unedited copy.
My reply, same day
It is very difficult for me to communicate with you by E-mail because WebTV in its wisdom has designated our domain at URI as a spam site and so refuses to accept mail from us. That's why I am using this CompuServe address.
I am interested in learning more about you book although I do not for a second accept its thesis. The evidence for LHO working with anyone else is sketchy at best and does not rise to the level of any sort of proof. Nevertheless, I would appreciate it if you would send me more information on the book, including how I could get a copy. Thanks in advance.
Sincerely, Ken Rahn
He then sent the same message to my CompuServe address, where we continued the discussion.
My reply, same day
Please send the early copy of the book to
Kenneth A. Rahn
2 Birchwood Drive
Narragansett, RI 02882
In case you ever wish to call, my work number is (401) 874-6713. I'm not home very much, so we won't bother with that number.
I will first be examining your book to see whether it is in accord with basic validated physical evidence of the case, very little of which is medical. Anything that violates this evidence, I will dismiss. Then I will look to see what goes beyond this evidence. Anything that does, I will consider speculative and unproven. We will see whether anything remains. To see what I mean by basic physical evidence, consult Packer, Scobey, and Devlin under "Reactions to the WC Report." Also check out "The three jurists and the physical evidence" under "Critical thinking." If you haven't been to my web site lately, you should go to my home page first (kenrahn.com) and click on "The Academic JFK Assassination Site"--much has been rearranged. Later this evening I will be posting a final version of a great early article by John Kaplan of Stanford University Law School. Those old guys got a lot right that everyone has forgotten about.
I look forward to receiving your book.
Best regards, Ken
His reply, 10 AugustDear Ken
My reply, 10 AugustThomas,
My follow-up reply, 11 August
I note that you haven't yet replied to my last message.
Helpful hint: always check all spellings before you send a message. People won't take your messages seriously if they contain blatant errors. For example, your last message misspelled at least two of the authors' names, plus basic things like "copys."
His reply, 11 August
In responce to your previous letter concerning contact I received from well known authorities on President Kennedys assassination. They were as follows; David S Lifton and whom I have corresponded with by telephone with over the last two years has been unable to find anything wrong with my basic conclusions, Dr. Cyril Wecht with whom I have corresponded by letter likewise did not indicate to me that my conclusions were wrong, and that he did not at this time want to ( as I fully understand ) make any public statements at this time, Arlen Spector in correspondence by letter did not find anything wrong with my conclusions, although I was expecting him to. My biggest surprise actually came from Mr Gerald Posner who is one of the greatest Oswald the lone assassin theorist whom I had sent my conclusions to via e-mail , and whom I believed could be counted on to find some kind of a flaw if there was one, also did not in his return e-mails to me indicate that any of my conclusions were flawed. Gerald Ford and William Manchester both of whom are on record of having recieved my manuscript and also asked if the found any thing at all wrong with its conclusions, to by all means please let me know did not send any response. This by no means, indicates that my conclusions are by any means wrong, but actually strengths my belief of their accuracy, simply by the fact that all of these top researchers and authors when asked to try and find any flaws in my basic conclusions, and explain to me why the were wrong, which Iam sure any of these top authorities on the assassination could easily have done, were not able to do.
My reply, 14 August
You didn't quite answer my question yet. There are significant differences between (a) did not tell you anything was wrong; (b) said explicitly that they examined your conclusions and could not find anything wrong; and (c) endorsed your conclusions as being correct. Please tell me which of the persons you referred to in your last message to me said which of these things to you. I am hoping for straight and explicit answers from you.
His reply, 14 August
In my correspondence with each of the top experts on the assassination, each was asked to read my book, this done in order see if they could find anything in my reasearch that was flawed and to by all means let me know so that I could go back and research it over again to find out what I had missed. And I was definitely sure that If any of my final conclusions were not backed by well documented evidence, that they would have made me keenly aware of it, and given an explaination of exactly why I was wrong. I documented evidence that each of these persons did recieve a copy of my book, along with an address to respond to me. And because of the fact that none of the experts is able to or unwilling to challenge these conclusions, all of which are backed by already well established and documented evidence surrounding the assassination, and are avalible to the public in any library in th country. I have to believe that the reason that none of these people were in any way unable to challenge my my final conclusions is for the fact that they are indeed correct. The only other conclusion, is that some of my conclusions were actually based on information that I had gathered from each of these researchers, David Lifton, Cyril Wecht, Wesley Libeler, William Manchester, Arlen Spector, etc.. And for anyone to believe that my conclusions are wrong, would also be saying that all of these people have been telling lies to the American public all of these years. And I do not believe that for one minute. I also realize that in order to challenge my conclusions each of these persons would actually be challenging all of their previous research as well. Thus expaining why each of them are unwilling to challenge any of the basic conclusions as describe in detail in my book. From this I do understand the awkward position each are in. Thats all that I can say.
My reply, 14 August
Now we are getting somewhere. It was as I had thoughtyou wrote letters, and they responded without going into specifics of your theory. You interpreted this to mean that they agreed with it. I strongly suspect that your conclusion is completely wrong; I know for sure that you drew it fallaciously. You are NOT allowed to read anything into a nonresponse, but you did. And you chose the interpretation most favorable to yourself, convincing yourself fallaciously that that was the only possible or reasonable interpretation (" I have to believe that the reason that none of these people were in any way [unable to challenge my my final conclusions is for the fact that they are indeed correct.") Well, think again. Here is another possible interpretation: each of these folks is very busy; they looked at your stuff and decided that it was flawed enough that it would require far more time and energy to fix than they had available. I will be a million dollars that this is what actually happened, for I too have seen so many flawed books by flawed JFK researchers that I would never want to deal with. Take comfort in the fact that you are not the only JFK researcher who reads things into missing data--many of them do, and it is always fallacious. In fact, I'm getting a little tired of having to pull the true story out of you bit by bit. Please answer all my questions from now on honestly and fully.
You also wrote: "And for anyone to believe that my conclusions are wrong, would also be saying that all of these people have been telling lies to the American public all of these years." Regardless of the logic of this overall statement, I can assure you that at least David Lifton and Cyril Wecht have been feeding the public seriously wrong answers for many years, whether they realized it or not. Both should know better, but seem to be carried away by preconceptions.
I have just posted a ten-step program for understanding the JFK assassination. I urge you to read it and see how many of the steps you are missing. The first thing you should do is to fill in the gaps with solid knowledge.
My follow-up reply, 14 August
I just received your manuscript. Thanks. I now understand why the people didn't address your points--it is as I had guessed in the last message to you. More later when I get a chance, provided that you agree to consider my remarks VERY seriously. I don't have enough time in the day to afford to use any of it needlessly. Sorry to be blunt, but I am squeezing multiple careers into one life.
His reply, 16 August
After having ( I would assume ) read the entire text I sent to you. You can see what a sensitve matter this really is, and getting the truth out is not going to be an easy one. For the fact that, that in order for goverment officials to bring out the true facts concerning President Kennedys death all of the principals involved will have to admit to, and take partial responsibility in the Presidents death. And which also would have to include the Presidents brother the late Robert Kennedy. Although I have gotten several offers from several publishers,whos researchers had found out about my book shortly after it had been copyrighted. I have held off on publishing, because I do believe that this would have a very detrimental effect on a book that David Lifton has been putting together on LHO, which I was totally unaware of at the time I first contacted him. And for the fact that if it were not for Mr. Lifton , I would not have been able to solve the mystery of of the Presidents death. So out of the great respect that I have for Mr. Lifton Iam waiting for him to publish his book, which will supply more evidence to support my own book, and which Iam planning on purchasing two or three copys of when it becomes availible. I also wanted to tell you to get a copy of the new NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE dated Aug. 14th 2000. Then go to page 51, left hand column , and read the top paragraph , which gives creedence to the staged CIA-MAFIA plot used as a pretext to invade Cuba, which is the basis for my book !
Thomas Di Paolo
His second reply, 16 August
In responce to your letter indicating that you believe that my version of the assassination is wrong is interesting. My book is based entirely on established facts surrounding the assassination, and arrainged in chronilogical order. And as Warren Commissioner Wesley Libeler had stated to David Lifton in his book BEST EVIDENCE, is that legally in a court of law any investigator whether it is a police officer lawyer or any one else, has to take all of the established facts that are known , which I have done. Then infer from all of these facts exactly what had been taking place both before, on and after Nov. 22nd 1963. And for the fact that I have in my possesion an overwheming amount of evidence with which to fully back my version of the assassination. Until someone can come up with well documented and established evidence as I have done, providing a complete answer to each one of the mysterys surrounding the assassination. My version is what David Lifton had refered to as the BEST EVIDENCE ! And until you can actually send me documented evidence proving that Iam wrong about one or more of my conclusions, so that I can take the time to investigate, to find something I have missed, my version as of this time is well established and still remains totally untouched by any evidence to the contrary. This being the reason why I have to stand behind my version. Because of the fact that no has ever been able to provide me with nor do I ever believe anyone will ever be able to send to me evidence that contradicts my findings (including yourself ). Should you come across any hard evidence with which to back what amounts to as of this time just your opinion which unlike my version IS back by well documented evidence, feel free to send it to me. Until that time, I can only believe that the reason that you are totally unable to send evidence is for the fact, is that you do not have any hard evidence with which to base your
opinion on, and for now thats all that I have to go with.
My reply, 16 August
I really don't enjoy being overly blunt with people, but you are leaving me no alternative. You are living in some sort of dream world. You have NOTHING. That is why the others did not respond to you--it would take far too much of their time to do it properly. In my last message I asked you to go to my web page and see with of the major categories of knowledge you have become familiar with, that are necessary in order to understand the assassination. Have you done that? If so, what is the result? I also asked you to tell me before I went ahead that you would take my reply VERY seriously. I have heard nothing on that, either. You either are not taking my offer or are not living up to your end of the bargain.
Here is a very brief preview of what I will write to you at length later (if you agree to my conditions).
1. Not all facts are created equal. You are not exercising the necessary degree of care in separating out the reliable evidence from the unreliable. Almost everything you are using is unreliable and hence useless.
2. You are relying on Lifton, who is not taken seriously by the great majority of the critical community. His book is a travesty, and is dishonest as well. Have you read the 100-page critique by Roger Feinman on my site? If not, do it IMMEDIATELY! I have checked Feinman and found him to be correct.
3. You are not recognizing the constraints of the physical evidence. Do you even understand how all-important the physical evidence is?
4. I don't believe you have read the original sources, i.e., the Warren Report (including the 26 volumes) and the HSCA report. Until you do, you have no business trying to publish anything.
5. You must either get serious (i.e., read and think in a way that you never have before) or forget this writing stuff. You are nowhere near ready.
His reply, same day
By all means send me any documents that you have that you believe will contradict any of my conclusions concerning the assassination. Iam interested in looking them over and studying them very carefully for their accuracy, and to see whether they conflict with my evidence and if they do, try and find out why. If this is fair enough with you.
My reply, 16 August
Once more you miss the point. It's not so much documents as mentality. You need to learn how to think about evidence and to weigh it by various standards, none of which you seem aware of now. Everything you need is on my web site. Start with the section on critical thinking. Read all the essays and master them. See how they all fit together into an overall approach that will guarantee success. This will take you several months to do it right, I suspect. There is no shorter way. Then go read how the best lawyers do it, under "Legal Reactions to the Warren Commission." Read Feinman's devastating critique of "Best Evidence," which by the way Lifton defined wrongly on the very first page of his book. If you don't do these things, you will continue to wander aimlessly in some kind of never-never-land. Please don't ask me for specifics until you know how to deal with them, which you do not now. Basically, you need to understand my entire web site before you will be prepared to write the slightest thing about the assassination and have any hope that it will be right. I will ask you for the third time: are you going to take me seriously?
His reply, 17 August
In communicating with you I have learned a great deal, and that is, to stay far away from assassination ( BUFFS ) with their wild theorys and then when asked to , rather than produce even one ioda of evidence for me to examine keep rambling on about how wrong I am , and then as would be expected, are totally unable to produce any evidence at all to contradict my conclusions. Sorry, but Ive learned my lesson and from now on will stick with communicating with the professional researchers. All of whom like myself have done there homework.
My reply, 17 August
I can only help those who are willing to be helped. When you are ready, you are welcome to communicate with me again. In the meantime, you will find that you are getting nowhere. That is no longer my responsibility.
Exchange of messages with Terry Hagan
First message from T. Hagan, 16 August 2000
Subject: General impressions
I`m very pleased that someone is attempting to dislodge the notion that Stones "JFK" is actually history. I`ve been looking at assasination since it`d happened. As a child reading Life`s or Look`s Warren Commission articles or condensations, along with all major critics books, peripheral players, (Jesse Curry one that comes to mind), Warren Commission evidence, HSCA evidence, and up to the ARRB.
Second message from T. Hagan, same day
Sorry for the incomplete
previous message. Computer glitch.
I've also e-mailed Gerald Posner and tho I agree to most of his ideas, the lapel moving on Governor Connally`s coat as proof of the SBT is filmsy at best.
My main concern is your political leanings.Leftist, liberals, flaming liberals? If you`re a conservative I beleive you can be honest and fair but those labels used indiscriminately can taint honest and reasonable critics unfairly in todays political climate. Call a spade a spade but not all Democrats are liberals. The majority are most likely moderates. Just as not all Republicans are right-wingers. Same as before. The tone of your endeavor will appear more academic with those thoughts in mind.
My reply, same day
I appreciate your comments about my JFK web site. I realize that some of my labels for people may have been a bit knee-jerk, and will try to refine them over time. Right now, I am racing to get as much as possible posted before the summer ends.
Would you mind telling me something about yourself, such as who you are, how you found my site, and which parts of it you have read? Thanks.
Best regards, Ken Rahn
His reply, 17 August 2000
Honestly, I didn`t think anyone read replies but I found out I was wrong after checking your site a bit more. My name is Terry Hagan, I`m a Senior System Engineer with an educational software company and as I stated before I`ve been looking at the JFK assasination for a long time. If the fourth shot had been for real then I think the whole situation would be dramatically changed. Realistically tho, how much could you filter out of a dictabelt tape that was recording a motorcycle?
I found your site using a typical search engine; Yahoo if that`s important. Basically I tried to read anything that was new to me at your site. Lifton did a good job at the beginning of his book stating the critics case but even in `82 I thought the "medical forgery" idea was ludicrous. Since I`ve read all the major critics books I `ve probably skipped most of that stuff at your site. So far it has been very interesting reading the personalities behind the books. It`s probably true that one`s psychological make-up does reflect the way they report facts.Please don`t let up on the ones that use the facts selectively. It`s about time someone called them on that.
If I had ever found any credible evidence that someone besides Oswald was involved I`d have written my own book. May still do that but you and others are surpassing me in adding up the facts and the non-facts. My interest has always been as a hobby, not a career. Also it has and still is a search for the truth no matter where the chips fall.
History and our young people need the truth and I see your class/classes as the right step in that direction. Did you know that I heard but can`t prove it that some teachers were using Stones` "JFK" to teach about the assasination? Incomprehensible.
I`ll be checking in on your site as I hope it grows.
Doug Fulcher, 17 August 2000
From: "Doug Fulcher" <email@example.com>
Subject: JFK COURSE & WEBSITE
Dear Dr. Krahn,
I have been visiting your website periodically since I found it during a search, and have found it both intriguing and provocative. I am writing you with a question (or more accurately, postulating a possible interpretation of the Zapruder 'head snap'.
There have been interpretations of the so-called autopsy evidence that indicates that there were in fact two back wounds- one located just right of the median about six inches below the neck, and one further down the back.
If this is true (and the autopsy pictures are so controversial that unless a full set of 'originals' are released by NARA we may never get a 'correct' interpretation), could the so-called head snap be caused by a shot from the rear into the upper back just prior to the head shot, striking the president in the upper back- causing the strange forward-back reaction seen in the film? (Remember that the accoustic evidence indicated that the last two shots were fired very close together, although like so much else in this case, it is controversial as well)
It seems that this may be at least as reasonable an interpretation as the 'jet effect' originally advanced by Dr. Alvarez- an effect, that to my knowledge, has never been duplicated in field tests using a human cadaver. To my mind, the jet effect is a nice, neat explanation along the lines of the magic bullet, and is proof that starting with a hypothesis, it is easy to garner facts to substantiate that hypothesis, as long as one is willing to disregard the data that doesn't fit.
Personally, I am inclined to believe that some sort of conspiracy took place, albeit that it may well have been after the fact- designed to shield Oswald's FBI and CIA connections, and present to the public a whitewashed version of the truth. Even more frightening, it is my feeling that the Warren Commission and the House Committee were never given access to the facts with which they could ascertain the truth. It is evident in retrospect that Hoover and the intelligence community at large refused to pursue leads that may have led to self-incrimination.
I know you have a very full plate, and I may well not get a response, but I felt it important to advance an alternate hypothesis for the head snap, given that you use it as a major factor in thinking that Oswald was the lone shooter. However, I do believe that you are a responsible academic tackling a very, very difficult subject in which nearly every researcher seems to bring their own agenda into play. Of the few whom I have the highest regard for, only Harold Weisberg and Gary Mack seem to stick with uncovering the facts in an unbiased fashion. Good luck with your course and your work. 37 years later, many people in this country remain unconvinced that the truth has emerged in this case, and I feel it is important that research continues.
My reply, same day
Thanks for your thought-filled message. Yes, my plate is full, but I will respond to you. I have a four-day weekend coming up, beginning Friday morning, so it may not be for a few days, but it will come. My response will focus on the validated physical evidence and the unified picture it presents, which does not allow a second hit to the back. Even if it did, the head would not snap forward independent of the body in the way that it actually did. (I trust that by snap you mean the very quick forward motion that preceded the backward lurch.) FWIW, I believe that we have all the facts that we need, and have had them for many years. The problem is interpreting them.
Also remember that a hit to the head will always invoke a two-stage mechanical reaction. (See "How a high-speed bullet interacts with an organ.")
Best regards, Ken
My longer reply, 30 August 2000
Here is my delayed response to your message of the seventeenth. It is of necessity brief.
We have very different view of the JFK case. You allow yourself to be led by feelings, which I refuse to do because it is so risky. It is fine to have ideas generated by feelingsI do it all the timebut we must not give any credence to those ideas until we have checked them out.
Concerning the "head snap," we must first define our terms. JFK's motions after the head shot are popularly divided into a quick forward snap of the head alone, followed by a longer, slower backward movement of the head and upper torso. (There is actually a third movement, a quick backward snap of the head between the two, but we'll put that one aside for the time being.) The only reasonable terminology seems to be "head snap" and "backward lurch," or "lurch" for short. I am aware, however, that many folks use "head snap" to refer to the rearward motion of the torso, but this is inaccurate and should be dropped.
Now we turn to the physical evidence. Your proposition that there were two back wounds, high and low, is unsupported by the autopsy. There is no way that the three physicians could have missed a second back wound. And if there had been one, where did the bullet exit, for no bullet remained in the body. Moreover, the quick forward motion of the head, in which it pivoted about the base of the neck, is incompatible with a hit to the back; it requires a hit to the head. A hit to the back also has no obvious mechanism for producing a double motion, whereas a hit to the head does (see "How a high-speed bullet damages an organ"). So your proposed mechanism has everything against it and nothing for it.
Your argument that the jet effect has not been duplicated in field trials with a human cadaver seems a bit disingenuous to me because no such trials have been run, to the best of my knowledge. Skulls, yes; cadavers, no. Conversely, the jet effect is theoretically feasible but probably very small (see letters to Bill Powers under "Reactions of readers" on my web site). Your message seemed to imply that there are data that do not fit the jet effect. Would you please name one or two such pieces (understanding, of course, that they must be posed with a proper understanding of the underlying physics)?
As for the need for continuing research, I believe an exceedingly strong case can be made that we have plenty of data already, and probably everything of significance. We need to properly understand the data we have before we rush out for more.
His reply, same day
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my previous email. Your answers are cogent and well though out. I am not a professional researcher into the JFK assassination, only a concerned individual who feels that, in many respects, the truth has yet to surface.
My own inclination is to be extremely skeptical of the 'official autopsy findings', since they are in many ways self-contradictory. Photos do not match X-rays, or on occasion, even themselves. This is documented widely throughout assassination literature, and confirmed by individuals who participated in the autopsy. In addition, there appears to be much 'evidence' which disappeared- the 'missiles' signed for by Siebert and O'Neill, the brain itself, the microscopic slides and other related evidence. Again, this is widely documented. Why weren't the bullet tracks charted? Was it a case of simple incompetence? The inclusion of Pierre Finck on the autopsy team would seem to preclude that, and lead to a more sinister conclusion.
I cannot precisely recall my original comments regarding the 'jet effect', and that email has long since been deleted. I am not married to the idea that this is an invalid phenomenon to describe JFK's movements in the Z film, only that I have yet to see sufficient support to engender my subscription to this belief.
My question regarding the 'second back wound' was related to the work of Harrison Edward Livingstone and his associates in "High Treason 2". There appears autopsy photos which, while falling short of providing incontrovertible evidence of its existence, at least raises the question.
You say that this is unsupported by the autopsy findings. The autopsy cover sheet and the photographs of Kennedy's shirt and jacket reveal a bullet wound 4-5" below the base of the neck- not at the base of the neck as Specter and Ford arbitrarily moved it. There is no support in the autopsy photos or X-rays to suggest a neck shot. On this point, there is much confusion on the part of the principals: everything from admission of error to failure of memory to admission that the WC findings were incorrect on this point. They would have no problem of course, remembering that they were members of the military, and were acting under orders.
There is no doubt in my mind that Lee Harvey Oswald would not be convicted in a fair trial- there is too much conflicting evidence, too many Oswalds (sightings), and no direct evidence of his involvement (and given the debate that rages even today, even his gun's).
I agree as to the fact that there is an abundance of data. As to whether this data is valid, or planted, or altered, I will leave to more informed researchers. When the Warren Commission Report ignores or misrepresents evidence provided by the FBI , its own investigating arm (see FBI reports on results of parrafin testing on people firing the MC rifle vs. what the Warren Commission says, as only one example), it leads one to begin to question virtually every piece of physical evidence. And this may be just what a consipiracy wanted- mountains of disinformation and misinformation calculated to lead any independent researcher astray.
Within a month, a new book edited by James Fetzer, PhD., 'Murder in Dealey Plaza', will be widely available in bookstores. The prologue is available in its entirety at www.jfkresearch.com. I would encourage you to include this website as part of your on-line resources. Many preeminent researchers and authors regularly post at this site, and as I have found, are more than happy to answer honest questions from 'students' of the assassination.
As an academic, I know that you have every right, and in fact every responsibility to question 'evidence' which calls into doubt official findings. You could certainly put yourself in a tenuous position were you to unabashedly proclaim your embracing a 'conspiracy theorist' position. However, I would hope that you are willing to acknowledge that much of what has been found by these researchers and authors (particularly Weisberg, who relies almost exclusively on government documents) has pertinent value to the ongoing discussion and search for the truth. And to allow for the possibility that as the six million pages of AARB documents are read, contextualized and put into cogent form, that there may be data under our noses that has yet to play a part in this drama.
If you are up to entering into a discussion with those who may hold opposing viewpoints (as well as those who may share yours) and are highly experienced in the nuances of the JFK mystery, I again encourage you to visit www.jfkresearch.com . You may learn that many pieces of evidence you hold as unassailable have been effectively nullified, or at the least, called into question. At this point, I think much of the 'evidence' on both sides of the table is somewhat questionable. It becomes instead "Who do you believe?" or, "Who doesn't have an agenda at stake in this?" Of course, this is just a 'feeling'.
As a sidebar to your course, you might consider the whole topic of 'disinformation' in the modern age- not just as it relates to JFK. It certainly isn't limited to our government or military- it has become an accepted mode of transaction in the world of finance and business as well.
Finally, if all the data were put on a scale, in my mind it would tip towards the side of conspiracy. The elements of post-assassination coverup are there for all to see, if one is willing to look clearly. It then becomes a question of motive regarding the coverup- was it a simple matter of bureaucratic a-- -covering, or something more sinister? A related point- the media at large and many people still consider the WC the 'official report'; i.e., lone gunman, when in fact, when one considers the lack of precedent (and absolute absence of authority) of a presidential commission on these matters, the truly 'official' documentation should be considered the report of the House Committee on Assassinations, i.e. conspiracy. A number of efforts have been made to discredit the accoustic findings, but no further tests were conducted to ascertain their validity (as even Dr. Barger, who conducted the tests, had requested).
Thanks for the dialogue.
Exchanges with William Powers, mostly on matters of physics
From William Powers, 20 Aug 2000
Your synopsis is filled with invalid arguments concerning Oswald's Guilt (take a course in logic dude). My interest: In June of 1962 or 1963 (I can't remember which), my brother John was driving us back from LAX north on Sepulveda Blvd ('cause San Diego Freeway wasn't finished). Suddenly coming south were at least 50 motorcycle cops (with lights and sirens on - Sepulveda being only 2 lanes-wide at that time) followed by JFK's Lincoln (open top - no bubble). So I got to see JFK from about 12' away in same limo he was killed in. So when assassination happended in Dalles (I was 12 years-old in 7th grade) I immediately thought of the time I saw him going to the airport in open limo. I have degree in physics from UC. If your so knowledgeable about this subject (and chemistry), can you name the fundamental conservation law that governs what happened in the limo in Dallas? If not, I say you know s- and shouldn't be teaching this class.
My reply, 22 August 2000
Dear Mr. Powers,
Thank you for your message of 20 August 2000. I note with interest that while accusing me of filling my "synopsis" with invalid arguments, you neither present any arguments of your own nor show me where I have gone wrong. Care to fill in some of these blanks? I will be happy to respond to any specific comments about my logic that you care to make. Deal? The first part of your message is just words.
As for the physical principles that are involved in understanding "what happened in the limo in Dallas," which I assume to mean JFK's motions after the head shot, you would have been well-advised to heed the lawyer's dictum about never asking a question that you don't know the answer to in advance. I trust that you as a graduate of physics from UC understand that two laws of conservation are involved (momentum and total energy), not one, and that each of these laws can be expressed in two different coordinate systems (translational and rotational), which may give somewhat different answers when applied. Furthermore, the translational conservation of momentum must be written separately for each of the three orthogonal axes, no? So your question is ill-posed because it refers to a situation that does not exist.
By the way, from which campus of UC did you graduate? Care to tell me any more about yourself? I always like to know something about the people I am corresponding with.
Also, what do you mean by my "synopsis"?
I hope you don't mind that I edited out the scatological part of your message. It just drags down the quality of the discourse, especially as it reveals that you are expressing overly strong opinion on impulse rather than on knowledge.
I hope to hear from you soon.
His reply, 23 August 2000
Thanx for you reponse. Subsequently searched your site for the same stuff I read the other day, but can't find it after about 30 minute search. It was essentially: haven't found anybody after 35 years besides Oswald, and so he must have done it. Invalid I say, but maybe it was something you're presenting someone else said or wrote. In any case, there was a group of about 10 sentences written along these lines. I cannot now find it on your site.
I graduated in physics from UCSB, 1986. As you know momentum is a vector and energy isn't. So the physical problem in the limo could be solved either way. We're not dealing with a cylinder or a sphere and so Cartesian coordinates for momentum consevation would be most appropriate system in which to write equation. Writing a Lagrangian for energy conservation could also be done (but you still need directional componets to write the equation). Since main issue to solve is direction of shot or shots, the momentum method seems the most natural and easiest to apply. So what we (me or you or anybody) really need is empirical data: mass of head, mass of bullet, speed of bullet (or alleged speed range of bullet), velocity or acceleartion of head after shot. Directional part of bullet's vector (where the bullet came from that caused the big head snap) is the real issue to solve. From Z-film the only thing we really have or know is acceleartion (a vector) of head backwards (fatal head shot). The momentum problem, as you rightly note, is a vector problem. And so it has to be solved by superpostion of x,y and z. However, since x-y motions predomiante, per Z-film, the problem isn't has complicated as you seem to imply by your response. Can you supply any known work in this area?
Thank you for your interested response
My response, 29 August 2000
I think we need to review mechanics a bit. In any collision, momentum is conserved separately in the three orthogonal directions, as is angular momentum about the three axes. Total energy is also conserved. Thus several variables are available to be used to solve the conservation equations simultaneously. You are just throwing away variables by limiting the solution to momentum or energy separately. You list several variables that should be considered, and note that you don't know of any work in this area. I have done the things you had in mind, and more. Some years ago I built up seven sets of 3-D equations of increasing complexity, both translational and rotational, with up to about 30 variables. Their goal was to say as much as possible about whether the movements on the Zapruder film were consistent with an MC bullet from the sixth floor or any other kind of bullet from any other direction. The solutions filled a thick notebook. I also went through an exhaustive series of sensitivity analysis to see which of the many variables were the most important. Out of this came a very clear picture that the WC scenario was the correct one, to the near exclusion of anything else that has been proposed. I found that the infamous jet effect could well have been real, but had to be much smaller than most people, including me, had thought. I found five accelerations in JFK's movements immediately after the head shot and was able to identify the source of at least four of them. The physics leave no room for any other bullets than the one MC hit to the rear of the head. Unfortunately, the work took so long that I had to turn to other things before I would write it up properly. In the best of worlds, I would release these materials sometime during next spring's JFK class, but I can't promise anything.
You write that the momentum problem has to be solved by superposing the axes. This is not correct. Conservation of momentum holds independently for any of the three directions. I chose to simultaneously solve X-momentum and total kinetic energy and thereby solve for two major variables, assuming values for the others. I eventually was able to deal with more variables by introducing equations for the various times associated with the operation of Zapruder's camera. It got quite ornate but always under control. I could, for example, check whether James Files could have created Kennedy's motions by shooting his kind of handgun from the knoll. I would have presented this material to the JFK community via a talk to one of the COPA meetings, but the program committee in its wisdom decided at the last minute that they didn't want to hear it. I couldn't believe it then, and I can't now.
Your quick synopsis of the Z-film also contains some errors. There were two quick accelerations of the head, one forward and one backward, and then a longer, slower acceleration backward. The equations easily account for both quick ones, but show that the longer one must have come from something other than a bullet. Interesting stuff indeed!
Three-dimensional components of the visible spray are needed to reconcile the backward movements with the shot. I used different 3-D parameterizations in order to fine-tune the fit.
In the end, there turned out to be no mystery, just one bullet from the rear, a lot of physics and ballistics, and probably some neurology as well.
His response, same day
From: William Powers <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Kenneth A. Rahn" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Wow Ken
Thanx for detailed response. You have done much more research in this area than anybody I have found so far. COPA should have had open mind. The subject is beyond the scope of any resercher that hasn't background in physics, and clealy most haven't. The question I have is how percise is the empirical data in WC (like mass of K's head, bullets; angles measured; distance from window to head, knoll to fence to head, bullet speed, etc.)?
Do you plug any data not in WC exhibits into your equations? Also would it be possible to see some of your equations and related sketchs?
My response, same day
COPA, like all JFK organizations dominated by conspiracists, cannot by definition have an open mind because they have certain articles of faith that everybody is supposed to believe, such as that the SBT couldn't possibly be true and there had to be another shooter. Stances like that are incompatible with genuine research, period, and lead quickly to closed-mindedness. These people are not serious.
As for the precision of the data used in the simulations, it's all over the map. Some variables are known very well, such as the mass of the MC bullet and the impact velocity. Some are known poorly, such as the mass and speed of brain matter ejected. One of the big advantages of sensitivity tests is that they can tell you which values are reasonable and how broad the acceptable range of each variable is. But you have to be careful in running them because so many variables are interconnected--the value you use for one affects the acceptable values for the others, etc. Serious bootstrapping is required to do it right. You should have seen what I went through to estimate the mass of JFK's head, and I still wasn't comfortable with the result.
I used a huge amount of data not from the WCyou have to. For example, I derived the mass of each of the two large fragments that shot from his head in Z 313. They came from photos in Lattimer's book, the average density of skull bone, and the average thickness of skull bone, all from different sources. I involved potential energy by calling up AFIP in Washington and talking to someone about energy lost as a bullet penetrates scalp and skull bone. On and on. It's COPA's loss, not mine.
Let me think about letting you see some of the materials. It's been a long time.
His response, next day (30 August 2000)
Whenever I faced a really hard physics or math problem I couldn't solve after about 2-3 hours (or 2-3 days sometimes) I would just start all over and go back to the basics, and in this way I was usually successful. The JFK assassination is probably the most difficult crime in history wanting of solution, as you well know. SBT has always been a hard one for me to swallow because (if CE 399 is the bullet) of conservation of mass. On the other hand, does anyone really know 100% that CE 399 is the genuine SB if SBT is in fact true? I mean SBT could be true without CE 399 being the real McCoy. I will try to look at Z film a few more times to see if I can discern more accelerations (as you cite) than the obvious acceleration backwards (relative to the car's motion westward) attributable (allegedly) to the fatal head wound. A simple observation (and that is all I claim presently) of what I "see" in the film: I see the head accelerate violently backwards. I conclude a bullet has been fired from the front of the president because as the head changes momentum dramatically, I infer it is gaining velocity rearward from a bullet that is dramatically losing its velocity (or disintigrating if a hallow point) fired from the same "general" direction. In other words, the bullet and the head are just more or less trading velocity (in vector sense of course). On the other hand, I know also that momentum could be conserved (within confines of mass of head and bullets) if jet effect is what actually happened, i.e., if fatal shot came from the rear of president. If true, mass flying rearwards would logically be explained by a shot fired from the rear. This is as far a I am right now. My beliefs are suspended about conspiracy/non-conspiracy. I am not a "researcher" or author. I am just a consumer of both sides (i.e., of their books). Thanx for your patients and all your detailed e-mails. I know your busy with up-coming school year.
My response, same day
You can't see those other accelerations in the Z film. You have to get them from the measurements of the positions of JFK's head in the frames. I used the careful data from Thompson's "Six seconds in Dallas." First I subtracted positions in adjacent frames (differentiated) to get velocities. Then I did the same for adjacent velocities to get accelerations. I plotted all three measures as three panes in a single graph and examined them carefully. Adjacent positive and negative jerks in the velocities showed me how to smooth the data for positions, realizing that an error in position will affect two successive frames, not just one. I then recalculated velocities and accelerations from the smoothed velocities and saw at least five accelerations, at least four of which had reasonably obvious causes. Try it. It may take a while, but it's worth the effort.
Do I take it that you have never seen the quick forward snap directly? You must view the Z frames individually. You will find the relevant frames on my web site, under "Issues and Evidence" > "The Zapruder Film." If you have a good laser disc player, you can view the frames that way.
We know that CE 399 is the real thing mainly from the NAA data. This matter is no longer in doubt.
Be careful with your discussion of the jet effect. That is the second-stage conservation of moment, associated with the exploding of the head rather than the impact of the bullet. They are separate events. You must read my "How a high-speed bullet damages an organ," under "Scientific topics" > "Wound ballistics," and understand the two-stage interaction of bullet and organ before you can understand the head hit. NOBODY gets this right.
His response, same day (30 August 2000)
Thanx for very informative response. I will examine your site more this week. I will try to read your "how a high-speed bullt damages an organ". No, I have yet to observe "the quick forward snap directly". I will check it out. Of course I have heard about it numerous times and have tried to discern it in the Z film, but I haven't found it. But, you know how erroneous the senses can be. I will do more homework and e-mail soon.
First message from Joseph Nagarya, 29 August 2000
Subject: Reader Responses
Sheesh! do you take heat! :)
Enjoy your site. Good to encounter a presentation of the case without the "New Age" overtones and "occult" core. Interesting that I found no other response to you that was not hostile.
I was 14 when JFK was assassinated, and remember exactly where I was at the time, blah, blah, blah. However, I am now an adult, and hope you will eventually (soon!) post the law review articles you cite. Those are where the means of relevant analysis are found (lawyerswith some unfortunate exceptions, such as Lane) tend to learn relevance and critical thinking. Alas, it also seems there are various professionalsmost notably doctors, who are over the line into paranoid fantasy.
Want also to thank you for the article about paranoid style in history; I''ve relatively frequently encountered reference to it but had not got to read it. Now I have--and I thank you. (I'm a bit disappointed at it's brevity: it does not include the rampant paranoid conspiracies floating around among the Founding Fathers during the "Revolution" which turned out to be false.)
Thanks again. Though I'm not confident I can exercise the same degree of skill in critical thinking as you, it is helpful to find such a focus and resource. And in a field which is starved for it.
His second message of same day, 29 August 2000To: firstname.lastname@example.org
My response, 29 August 2000
Thanks for your two kind and supportive messages about my JFK site. Fell free to write any time! :-)
You noted that I was taking a lot of heat. While this is true, it is a small price to pay in order to bring some balance to a debate that has been far too one-sided for too many years and has done real damage to the country. It is also worth the trouble in order to reveal the nature of the strong replies that I have been getting--nearly all of them are knee-jerk-reflex, emotional responses practically devoid of logical content. The messages from John Kelin come to mind in this regard. It is becoming clearer to me that the conspiracist community thinks they own the JFK debate, probably because they have dominated it for 30 years without being seriously called to task. Their responses to me amount to a collective "How dare you!" Well, I dare, and I'm going to dare more in the future, for this group needs to be brought to heel and not allowed to get away with the nonarguments they have been putting out for so long.
It has been worse for me in the past. The nadir was reached with our regional "Providence Conference" in spring 1999, when a small, vocal group took severe umbrage that two out of our ten speakers were (gasp!!) to be nonconspiracists. The sorry record of events is preserved for all to see at http://karws.gso.uri.edu/JFK/spring1999conference/Epilogue.html . I would say "Enjoy!" but no reasonable person can take any pleasure from that tiny chapter in JFK history.
Sorry about being slow with the legal papers. I assure you it's not for lack of overall effort, however. I have so many things to prepare and post, and each one takes so long to do properly, that the process takes longer than I and others would prefer. I have not forgotten about these articles.
I have three small responses to your comments on the legal articles. First, I am not as sure as you that our lawyer friends are necessarily the best logicians in the JFK business. To be sure, the articles by Packer, Kaplan, Devlin, and Scobey are very high quality and enlightening--it is a pity that they have been consigned to the dustbin of JFK history. But right up there with them are those by nonlawyers Dwight Macdonald and Jacob Cohen. To me they are all the brightest of lights. Put them against the likes of Sauvage, Meagher, Lane, Epstein, etc., and there is no contest. Second, be aware that the coming legal articles will deal more with procedures of the Warren Commission than with results, except to the extent that proper procedures can be imagined to give correct results. Third, I agree with your opinion of some of the medical doctors in the case. I have suspected for some time that much of the medical evidence is less important and explained much less well than other evidence in the case, and I become more convinced of this view every day. I lay much of that to the medical community, which tends to puff itself up at the expense of unassumedly stating the simple truths.
Thanks again for your comments. They form a nice counterweight to the others.
First message of 30 August from Joe Nagarya
I remember President Kennedy (I'm 52). I find
feelings of "discomfort" with the result. Yet, I don't
I have a theory that they are "fleeing from grief". It was a trauma; it was (is) difficult to let go of that young, attractive, vital visionary with the young family.
(Here he includes my previous message.)
The first thing to read is "Report," then discussions of that from the presumably qualified--lawyers, historians, scientists.
His second message of 30 August
Subject: Conspirabunk and such.
I was born and grew up in Brockton, MA. I'm 52. I have a sense of the Kennedys. My first objection to the conspirabunkers is their horrendous reduction of that vast word "if" to merely two characters"i" and "f".
Next, the "sinister". Nothing guarantees a cover-up cannot benign. Why not two sets of photographs and x-rays?one for public consumption if, God forbid, they are released, made post-autopsy after "cleaning him up". The other the actual, horrendous actualities. I would view that as compassionate. Both to memories of him alive and vibrant, and to the family. Why would the family not prefer we all remember him as he looked before the assassintation.
That is, of course, speculation. The contemporary historical and political context is important--but not as the tool by which to interpret the evidence.
The real danger of (nuclear) war should their be a "communist" conspiracy, would it have been more moral and "prudent" to show that, and thus get millions killed. Again, speculation.
His third message of 30 August
Subject: Conspirabunk and such (2)
(To continue.) I spent substantial time, both pre-
and post-OK City bombing, fake "militia" conspirabunkers who
praised it, and were spewing a truly ugly--and terrifying"conspirist"
"proof". Beyond puerile luridity to slander.
Doing that has kept my teeth in argumentation and my critical faculties alive. I agree that the Lanes (lawyer) and Liftons have done extraordinary damage--both to any sane discussion of "IF" there was a conspiracy, and to the country. It was a terrible crime. And so publica repudiation not only of JFK and his policies, but also of his person. His existence. At his worst he did not deserve that. No human does, and no human can justify doing so.
That is more than enough horror, more than enough injury, without having it sullied. Castro said it: we consider death sacred. Hucksters and ignoramouses have sullied that sacrednesshis death being more than enough all ready.
So its "orienting" to find your web site. Sanity.
I agree that all lawyers are not up to logic: fifty per cent of all lawyers graduate in the bottom 50 per cent of the class. (That is, of course, a trick statistic: every class of everything has a bottom 50 percent. Lane's "Judgement" is a DEFENSE brief; it is hardly objective.
My reply, same day
Thanks for your messages of this morning. I obviously agree that the proper procedure for understanding the assassination is first to read the full report and then to listen to what the qualified experts have to say about it and the evidence. Yet, this procedure has seldom been followed. This means that many people are speaking from positions of weakness rather than strength.
You noted that Mark Lane's "Rush to Judgement" is a brief for the defense rather than an objective treatment of the evidence. The article by Stanford professor of law John Kaplan entitled "The Assassins," which I have put on the web, is considerably harsher on Lane. Kaplan notes that although a legal advocate has some latitude to "emphasize some facts and de-emphasize others," "Lane carries this far beyond mere advocacy to the point of extreme misrepresentation and distortion." Kaplan thus believes that we have been too kind to Lane, and I agree.
Again, thanks for writing. Rest assured that I will continue to do my best to present our true understanding of the assassination as clearly and simply as possible.
Exchange of messages with Greg Jaynes of DallasDate: Wed, 30 Aug 2000
I like your website and your rational approach to the JFK assassination aspect of Dallas history.
We don't discuss the assassination much but you might enjoy the message board hosted by the Dallas Historical Society. www.dallashistory.org
My reply, same day
Thanks for your message just now. I visited your site a year or so ago, and appreciated it, too.
I will have a look at the Dallas Historical Society's site and message board.
Here's a crazy thought that popped into my mind just now. See what you think. For the last couple of years, I have been speculating about the possibility of holding a "rational" JFK conference, for lack of a better word, where genuine inquirers could meet and discuss the assassination and its debilitating effects on America and the world, with a special eye toward the unnecessarily negative effects of misportraying the evidence for conspiracy. In other words, we have felt unnecessarily guilty about "the conspiracy" and have wasted vast amounts of time, resources, and money chasing a trail that isn't. Do you have any sense about the prospects for such an attempt to clear the air? Any comments would be appreciated.
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