Article 2368 of misc.activism.progressive:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rich Winkel)
Subject: JFK: "Plausible Denial" book review
Sender: email@example.com (Rich Winkel)
Date: Thu, 30 Jan 1992 10:23:07 GMT
** Written 8:14 pm Jan 12, 1992 by ihandler in cdp:nfd.ifeatures **
Book Review / 1050 Words
Was the CIA Involved In
The Assassination of JFK?
By Mark Lane
Thunder's Mouth Press
New York City, 1991
393 pages, $22.95
By Carl Davidson
Mark Lane's `Rush To Judgement' was one of the most widely read
books of the 1960s. It delivered the opening salvo against the
fabrications of the Warren Commission's official report on the
assassination of John F. Kennedy. The power of Lane's analysis
transformed him from a maverick left-wing lawyer-politician into an
international popular hero.
Now, after 25 years, Lane has returned to his topic with
`Plausible Denial.' Where his first work raised a large number of
questions about a variety of institutions, this new book offers us
carefully crafted answers that unmask the criminality of a definite
handful of top CIA figures. It delivers the coup d'grace against
the CIA's claim of innocence.
The heart of `Plausible Denial' is a courtroom drama spread out
over seven years. In begins in August, 1978 when Victor Marchetti
wrote an article for Spotlight, the obscure tabloid newspaper of
the right-wing, populist and anti-Semitic group, the Liberty Lobby.
Marchetti is the well-known ex-CIA officer and co-author of `The
CIA and the Cult of Intelligence.' The article claimed that top
people in the CIA, including Richard Helms and James Jesus
Angleton, had signed on to a plan to offer up ex-CIA officer and
Watergate burglar, E. Howard Hunt, to Congress as a sacrificial
lamb on the assassination issue. By admitting that Hunt was in
Dallas in November, 1963 as a participant in a renegade group of
anti-JFK conspirators, the CIA higher-ups hoped to deflect a deeper
Hunt counter-attacked with a lawsuit claiming he had been
defamed and that he could prove he was home in Washington, DC on
Nov. 22, 1963. In December, 1981 a Miami jury sided with Hunt and
awarded him $650,000 in damages. The Liberty Lobby, dismayed,
appealed for a new trial and sought a new lawyer.
They got both. An appeals court found a serious error in the
charge to the jury; a new trial was scheduled. And Mark Lane took
the case, with the proviso that he would not be constrained by the
Liberty Lobby's politics or preconceptions.
The Liberty Lobby wisely let Lane take charge. In the first
trial, the defense was weak. It agreed with Hunt's main
assertions, apologized for any misinformation, but insisted there
had been no "intent" to defame, only honest error. In the second
trial, Lane took the opposite approach. He argued that Hunt was a
chronic liar and criminal, and that the basic claims against him
were true. Moreover, he showed how all the top CIA officials Hunt
brought in to testify on his behalf were also liars and criminals,
and that the CIA was complicit in the killing of Kennedy. According
to Lane, his strategy was to turn "a defamation case into the
prosecution of a murder case within a civil action."
Lane follows through brilliantly. Two passages in the book are
especially spellbinding: one is when Lane has Hunt on the stand and
exposes his "alibi" for his whereabouts during the Dallas events as
totally unbelievable; the other is the questioning of Marita
Lorenz, a former lover of Fidel Castro's who was recruited to the
CIA in 1959 by Frank Sturgis, also of Watergate fame, at a time
when he was still head of security for the Cuban air force. To
make a long account short, Lorenz convincingly describes being in
a Dallas motel room with Sturgis, Hunt, boxes of guns, wads of
money and none other than Jack Ruby, all on the evening before the
assassination. Hunt's lawyers could do nothing to shake her story.
The strategy paid off. On February 6, 1985, a jury of ordinary
Americans rules against Hunt's claim, and affirms that they
believed Lane's case against the CIA.
"Mr. Lane was asking us to do something very difficult," said
Leslie Armstrong, jury forewoman, to the press after the trial. "He
was asking us to believe that John Kennedy had been killed by our
own government. Yet when we examined the evidence closely, we were
compelled to conclude that the CIA had indeed killed President
At this point, anyone might ask, why didn't we know about this
trial when it was going on? The answer is that the JFK issue has
always brought out the worst in the American media: its class-
biased arrogance, deceit and contempt for the concerns of people
with little influence and less power. Lane himself raises the
issue at the start of the book. He shows us how he was blocked at
every turn from getting his first stories out. He tells how only
the Guardian stood by him in the early days, when even other
progressive publications felt to uncomfortable with the doubts and
charges he was raising. Lane includes the full text of his initial
Guardian article in an appendix.
The main virtue of `Plausible Denial' is the inspiration one
gets from Lane's audacity and doggedness in seeking the truth in
the JFK case. That virtue has been compromised, unfortunately, by
Lane's decision to maintain an ongoing professional and political
relationship with the Liberty Lobby. Whether wittingly or not, he
has become an instrument of the far right's present-day tactic of
making use of progressive, anti-Establishment sentiment to promote
its own agenda.
This aspect of Lane's career is worthy of deeper analysis than
is possible in one book review. Still, the verdict he won in Miami
against Hunt remains as one small victory in a seemingly futile
struggle that has been going on for over 25 years.
But it is an important one nonetheless. What does it mean,
after all, if the president of the U.S. can be gunned down in broad
daylight without any of his assassins being brought to justice?
Why are those conspirators who remain alive still able to walk the
streets as free men? In all truth, these are profoundly
revolutionary questions. They are the loose threads which, if
pulled persistently, cause the entire fabric of the established
order to unravel.
The answers Lane and many others have unearthed with their
persistence show that America is not a democracy in any fundamental
sense. However much we treasure our liberties and strive to
restrict the abuse of power, the fact remains that the killers of
the Kennedys, of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, of Fred Hampton and
others--all got away with it. It shows we live under a
dictatorship of the rich and privileged, and not yet a government
of the people, by the people and for the people.
Carl Davidson is director of Networking For Democracy, a
Chicago-based cluster of projects promoting grassroots access to
computer and media skills. He recently worked as writer and
researcher for Denis Mueller's new documentary, `The Assassination
of John F. Kennedy,' distributed by MPI Home Video.
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