JFK Assassination Brouhaha


Mr. Huff is an HNN intern.

An article in the Nation by Max Holland has reignited debate over the CIA’s involvement in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In the article entitled “The JFK Lawyers’ Conspiracy,” Holland contends that a group of lawyers, namely Mark Lane, Jim Garrison, Gary Hart, and G. Robert Blakey, have conspired to overturn the findings of the Warren Commission, which concluded in 1964 that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating JFK. In a letter to the editor of the magazine, Lane accuses Holland of libel, rejecting as groundless Holland’s depiction of him and Garrison as unwitting agents of the KGB.

Holland accuses Lane of receiving funds from the KGB while doing research for his book, Rush to Judgment, in which he challenged the Warren Commission’s findings. The KGB, Holland argues, attempted to implicate the CIA in the president’s murder for ideological purposes. According to Holland, both Lane and Garrison, however unwittingly, served the KGB by promoting conspiracy theories about the CIA’s involvement.

Joan Mellen, an English professor at Temple University, also comes under attack for writing what Holland refers to as a “hagiography” of Garrison.

Holland also criticizes former Senator Gary Hart, a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence in the mid- to late 70s. According to Holland Hart challenged the Warren Commission’s findings by "twisting unpalatable truths into the logical equivalent of pretzels.” Holland also criticizes G. Robert Blakey, who served as chief counsel and staff director of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in the 1970s. In 1979, the HSCA concluded that JFK “was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.” Holland lambastes Blakey for basing such a conclusion on “uncorroborated acoustic vidence” thought to be “unbelievable” by three dissenting members of the HSCA.

Mellen, in her letter complaining about the article, rejects Holland’s characterization of her book about Garrison as “hagiography.” Even Garrison’s family, Mellen notes, seemed disappointed by her refusal to idealize Garrison in favor of a realistic, warts-and-all portrayal of the New Orleans district attorney. Mellen also points out that, in 1967, the CIA circulated a document, "Countering Criticism of the Warren Report.” According to this document, critics of the Warren Report were to be branded as “Communist propagandists.” Mellen accuses Holland of merely following the CIA’s injunction to thwart further investigations of the Warren Commission by vilifying its critics.

Lane, in his letter, vigorously denies receiving funds from the KGB, claiming that Holland’s accusation is consistent with the CIA’s strategy of defaming critics of the Warren Commission. Echoing Mellen, Lane argues that Holland merely advances the CIA line that various people, many of them lawyers, adopted the KGB's approach to the assassination. Lane says that before writing his book he had never met his purported “coconspirators.” How, Lane wonders, could he possibly have been involved in a conspiracy with people whom he had not met?

Holland in response has come out swinging. He accuses English Professor Mellen of misspelling names and repeating lies in her book about Garrison. He insists the contents of the CIA document to which Lane and Mellen refer should not surprise anyone, since the CIA apparently intended to preserve the reputation of the U.S. government. He qualifies the statement he made about Lane receiving money from the KGB, suggesting that Lane may have been unaware of the source of his funds and had not received all of the money in one lump sum. For Holland, it is telling evidence that Lane has not sued for libel the authors who initially implicated him in the KGB plot.

Holland insists that the acoustical evidence cited by Lane and others does not support the claims made by the conspiracy theorists, citing a website for details.

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Steve Broce - 3/20/2006

Lawrence, it is certainly true that Oswald was involved. I believe that the overwhelming evidence is that he was the only person involved. It is possible, of course that he was acting at the behest of the Cuban government. I am, however, unaware of any evidence of Cuban involvement. Is it possible? Sure, but where’s the evidence?

You post “He had been working with communists in Central America.”, with reference to Oswald. What work was Oswald doing with the Communists in Central America?

As for the assassiantion plots against Castro, they did come out, but later, after the JFK assassiantion. How much Castro knew about them prior to tha JFK assassination is not known (at least to me) In any event, I’m not aware of the “lighter weapon” being involved. I do remember poison and LSD tainted cigars and a sniper team.

In any event, I ask again, Where is your evidence of actual involvement by Cuba?

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 3/20/2006

Oswald was not a gangster. He wasn't on a list of "hit men" available in the market. He was a communist. He had been working with communists in Central America. He was involved in the Kennedy murder, and perhaps was the lone killer, but certainly was involved... In addition, the Sam G. "family" engagement to murder Castro by Kennedy is pretty well established, and Sam's man is known to have been foiled. The weapon was disguised as a cigarette lighter, I believe, which Castro gleefully flashed to people. In all these circumstances, the LBJ theory is the best one available. It makes sense that the Warren Commission would rather tell white lies than admit the martyred leader had attempted murder himself (as with Diem), but had instead been murdered by communists, which might have enraged the U.S. people and turned the Cold War hot.

Steve Broce - 3/20/2006

More silly conspiracy theories.

Fred, Vanunu was 9 years old at the time of the JFK assassination. Do you really suggest that he could have any first-hand knowledge of any Israeli conspiracy? If not, how would he know of any such "conspiracy"?

It appears that any crackpot can come along with a silly story and expect uncritical and unquestioning belief by you.

BTW, Fred, your discription of Vanunu as a "physicist" is more overstatement on your part. Vanunu was not a "physicist" but a technician.

As for your theory, Lawerence, I guess it's possible that Castro had a hand in the assassination, but what actual evidence do you have?

Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 3/16/2006

Let's disregard the people selling books, and cut to the chase. What do we know? We know Oswald was involved, whether he was alone or with others. Oswald had been in Russia and married a Russian. He was a communist and had a bad discharge from U.S. military. He had been seen at the Soviet embassy in Mexico City. Etc. Both LBJ and Nelson Rockefeller, who were in positions to know much more than we do, told their closest associates exactly the same thing: "Kennedy tried to kill Castro, but Castro got him first." That's the rational conclusion from what we know. DeGaulle's comment at the time was amusing: "Isn't it funny that every nation in the world has political assassinations, but in the United States it is always the work of a madman?"

Frederick Thomas - 3/15/2006

...the disinformation goes on at an increased level, 40 years later.

Could this be because Israeli physicist and protester Mordechai Vannunu has fingered David Ben Gurion as the man behind the JFK murder, because JFK tried to stop Israel's program as the US is trying to stop Iran's, and Israel's buddies in the media wish to deflect attention?

Possibly. At least it makes more sense than the other fictions bandied about over the years.