CTKAformerly published Probe Magazine.
Most of the articles on this site first appeared in Probe.
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Jim DiEugenio's Upcoming appearances and radio Interviews:
April 13th, Barnes and Noble, Metro Pointe,
901 B South Coast Drive Ste 150, Costa Mesa,
May 4th, Barnes
and Noble, Orange Town & Country
791 South Main Street Suite 100,
NEW DATE! May 18th, Barnes
and Noble Bookstore in Manhattan Gateway Shopping Center 1800 Rosecrans
Avenue Building B, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
310-725-7025, 12-4 PM
October 16-19th Passing the Torch
Conference, at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh
November 21-24, November
in Dallas, at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas
The French Connection, by
Peter Kross Review
by Seamus Coogan
on Lunch with Arlen Specter on January 4, 2012
By Vincent Salandria
1: Review of Peter Janney’s "Mary’s Mosaic"
By Lisa Pease
2: Entering Peter Janney’s World of Fantasy
By James DiEugenio
Awful Grace of God, Religious Terrorism, White Supremacy
and the Unsolved Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Martin Hay
KENNEDY & ME: A Very Good Book With A Few Pages of Trouble
by Vince Palamara
Jim DiEugenio analyzes and summarizes Larry Hancock's
interesting and unique new book Nexus:
The CIA and Political Assassination
Jim DiEugenio reviews the work
of Chris Matthews on the life and death of President Kennedy,
including his latest biography, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive hero".
Reviews of John McAdams' book JFK
Assassination Logic by:
IN DALLAS: LBJ, the Pearl Street Mafia, and the Murder of President
Reviewed by William Davy
a DVD Robert Kennedy documentary produced,
written and directed by Massimo Mazzucco. Reviewed by Jim DiEugenio
Connally Bullet Powerful evidence that Connally was
hit by a bullet from a different assassin, by Robert Harris
those who were in and around Dealey Plaza that
day and those who made a career of the case afterwards.
Joseph Green on the late Manning
Marable's new full scale biography of Malcolm X.
and the Majestic Papers: The History of a Hoax by Seamus
- and -
and the Conspiracy to Kill Kennedy: A Coalescence of InterestsSeamus Coogan
on Joseph Farrell's new book
No Evil: Social Constructivism and the Forensic Evidence in the
by Donald Byron Thomas
Comprehensive Review by David Mantik of
Wikipedia? by JP Mroz and Jim DiEugenio (3 part series)
Sirhan and the RFK Assassination
Part I: The Grand Illusion Part
II: Rubik's Cube by Lisa Pease
is Anton Batey?
CTKA takes a close look at a most curious radio host who is a JFK
denier, Chomskyite, and yet happens to be in league with John McAdams
and David Von Pein. Yep, its all true.
Reviews of Douglas Horne's multi-volume study
of the declassified medical evidence in the JFK case. Reviewed
Jim DiEugenio, David Mantik and Gary Aguilar.
Exclusive excerpts from Mitchell Warriner's long
awaited new book on
the Jim Garrison investigation
Review of Peter Janney’s Mary’s Mosaic
Part One by Lisa Pease
Peter Janney wrote a book entitled Mary’s
Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary
Pinchot Meyer, and their Vision for World Peace. From
the subtitle, researchers
can be forgiven for thinking that Janney’s book is a serious
contribution to our side, as many of us believe that the CIA
killed John Kennedy in part because he was trying to end the
Cold War and rein in covert operations. But Janney’s book is
such a frustrating mix of fact, fiction, speculation and unverifiable
data that I cannot recommend this book. Indeed, I’d rather
it came with a warning label attached.
Most people don’t read books the way I do.
Most people assume the data presented is true unless proven false,
and they give the author the benefit of the doubt. On any topic
of controversy, especially the JFK assassination, which has become
so imbued with disinformation that it’s hard to know whom to
believe, I take the opposite approach. I pretty much dare the
author to prove his case to me, and I check every fact I don’t
already know from elsewhere against the author’s sources to determine
whether or not I find his “facts,” and therefore his thesis,
When I first picked the book up in the store,
I turned to the footnotes. You can tell a lot about an author
by the sources he cites. From that moment, I knew the book would
not be worth reading. As I flipped through the pages, I saw Janney
attempt to resurrect long-discredited information as fact. Frankly,
I wouldn’t have wasted the time reading it at all had I not been
asked to review it.
I cannot, in a book review, take on the task
of refuting every factual error and pointing out every unsubstantiated
rumor-presented-as-fact in this book, because there seemed to
be at least a few per page, and it’s just too big a task. So
I’ll focus on challenging some specifics regarding the
three key points of Janney’s overall thesis, which are: 1) that
Mary Meyer was not killed by Ray Crump, the man arrested and
tried but not convicted of her murder; 2) that Meyer had an ongoing,
serious sexual relationship with a President Kennedy that involved
drug use; and 3) that Meyer’s investigation into the CIA’s role
in the JFK assassination got her killed.
Janney believes these three conclusions to
be true. After reading his presentation, and doing a little additional
research of my own, I’m convinced that none of these are
Let’s start with Mary Meyer’s murder. If Crump
was truly framed for a crime he didn’t commit, the CIA theory
is at least possible, if not exactly probable. But if Crump actually
committed the crime, then Janney’s thesis, and indeed, the thrust
of his whole story, goes out the window. So let’s examine that
issue first, based on the evidence Janney presents.
Janney opens his chapter on Mary’s murder
with witness Henry Wiggins, Jr. While on the road above the tow
path where Mary was killed, Wiggins heard “a whole lot of hollerin,”
followed by a shot. He ran to the edge of the embankment, heard
a second shot, looked down toward the canal, and saw an African
American man standing over Mary Meyer’s body. Wiggins described
the “Negro male” as having a “medium build, 5 feet 8 inches to
5 feet 10 inches, 185 pounds.” Wiggins said the man was wearing
a beige zippered jacket, dark trousers, dark shoes, and a dark
plaid cap. What was Crump wearing that day? According to his
neighbor, who remembered Crump passing that morning, Crump had
been wearing, quoting Janney, “a yellow sweat shirt, a half-zipped
beige jacket, dark trousers, and dark shoes.” Quoting the neighbor,
via Janney, “he had on a kind of plaid cap with a bill over it.”
That’s a pretty exact match.
Crump would eventually get off because his
very astute lawyer, Dovey Roundtree, harped on the height discrepancy.
Her client was much shorter than 5'10". His driver’s license,
says Janney, said he was 5'3½" and 130 pounds. But Janney
doesn’t tell us when Crump got his license. Lots of kids sprout
another inch or two (or more) after getting their driver’s license.
Your height isn’t verified when you renew your license. In addition,
Janney tells us the police measured Crump upon his arrest and
recorded his height as 5'5½". Janney says “it’s not clear”
whether Crump was measured with the 2" heels he was wearing
that day. Even my doctor makes me take my shoes off to weigh
me and to check my height. I have trouble believing the police
would do less, especially in a murder investigation, and especially
when the person was not in flat-soled shoes. So I believe, from
Janney’s own evidence, that Ray was likely 5'5½", wearing
2" heels, putting his overall height at 5'7½", close
enough to Wiggins’ lower end of 5'8". Janney also quotes
Crump’s emotionally invested lawyer Roundtree as saying Crump
was shorter than her. But if she were wearing heels, and if Crump
were wearing prison flats, that could explain her perspective.
(At one point Janney is naïve enough to say Roundtree would never
have represented a guilty man. Clearly, the woman believed Crump
was innocent. But that doesn’t mean her faith in him was justified.).
In addition, Janney shows, in a picture, that
Crump was a fairly normal-sized man, not skinny, not heavy. A
“medium build,” just like Wiggins described. And Crump weighed
in at 145 pounds, which was fifteen pounds more than the weight
on his driver’s license. Does Janney want us to believe Crump
had 15-pound shoes on? Or was it simply that time had clearly
passed between the time the young man got his driver’s license
and the time of his arrest? And if the young man had gained weight,
couldn’t the young man have grown a couple of inches, too? (I
knew someone who was short until he went to college, where he
suddenly grew by several inches.) If Crump was only 5'3",
145 pounds would have made Crump look downright stocky. That
many pounds on a 5'5½" frame, however, would look simply
healthy, matching what we see in the picture Janney provides
of Crump on the day of his arrest.
I asked a police officer just before finishing
this review if people were measured with shoes on. “Sometimes,”
the officer replied. “What if the person had 2" heels on?”
“It happens,” the officer said a bit sheepishly, to my surprise.
So let’s assume for a second that the police did measure
Crump with his shoes on, and that Crump really was just 5'3½" tall.
That still doesn’t discount Wiggins’ identification. Wiggins
was looking down on him from above, and that foreshortened perspective
could easily have affected Wiggins’ height estimate.
In addition, Crump lied to the officer who
arrested him several times, immediately. The officer asked Crump
if he had worn a jacket and cap. Crump said no, but a beige-zip
up jacket was found nearby that fit him perfectly, as did a plaid
hunting cap that was also found nearby. (Nina Burleigh, A
Very Private Woman, p.
234). In response to the question of why he was dripping wet,
Crump claimed he had been fishing and fallen in the water. But
he had no fishing tackle on him, and his fishing equipment was
still in his garage at home. Asked why his hand was bleeding,
Crump claimed he had cut it on a fishhook (Burleigh, p.265).
His pants were unzipped and when the officer asked why, Crump
said because the officer had roughed him up. Crump sounded more
like a pathological liar than an innocent man.
The officer concluded Crump was a likely suspect
and that he had jumped in the river to attempt to swim away.
Janney tells us that was impossible because Crump couldn’t swim.
But plenty of people would choose water over arrest if they thought
that was their only chance of escape. Anyone can dog paddle.
You don’t need to know how to swim to attempt to do so. Janney
explained the wetness by saying Crump had fallen asleep drunk
after a tryst with a girlfriend, after which he woke and stumbled
into the river. Nina Burleigh discounted this because Crump only
came up with this after his fishing rod was found at his home.
In other words, this wasn’t an explanation; it was just another
Janney trots out the suggestion that Crump’s
arrest and prosecution were racially motivated. Yet Wiggins,
the original witness, was himself a black man. Three-quarters
of the jury was black. Dovey Roundtree was black. If anyone ever
got a fair shake, it was Crump. Crump would later be arrested
22 more times(!) for crimes that included raping a 17-year-old
daughter of a friend, dousing his second wife’s home with gasoline
and setting fire to it while she and her children were inside,
and threatening his second wife with a gun to the point where
she jumped out a window to escape him, breaking her ankle and
fracturing her collarbone in the process.
Janney tries to argue that a sweet young man
was turned to a life of crime after having been jailed for a
crime he didn’t commit. That is provably untrue,
and Janney should have known that. Janney quotes from Nina Burleigh’s
book A Very Private Woman,
a biography of Meyer in which Burleigh discusses her murder in
depth. But Burleigh pointed out that Crump had a criminal record before the
Mary Meyer murder. Did Janney just miss that crucial bit of information?
Or did Janney choose not to share that information with his readers
because it would not further his argument?
And so, we get to the crux of the problem
with Janney’s book. He discounts evidence that discredits his
thesis, no matter how credible, and props up information that
supports it, no matter how insubstantial. I find that disturbing.
If it only happened a couple of times, that’s understandable.
We all make mistakes. But when it becomes a pattern, there are
only two possible conclusions: either Janney really doesn’t understand
the evidence, or he hopes we don’t.
Before I leave Crump’s case, I want to point
out one episode in particular, because I think it illustrates
Janney’s shortcomings as a researcher. An officer casing the
area after the murder saw a black man poke his heads out of the
woods after the crime had been committed but before Crump’s arrest.
Naturally, if the man were Crump, that adds to the case for his
guilt. So to support his thesis that Crump was innocent, Janney
tries to show that this man couldn’t have been Crump and was,
instead, a second suspect. The problem is that Janney has to
distort math and time to do this.
Detective John Warner arrested Ray Crump at
1:15 p.m. Janney tries to make a big deal out of a statement
by another officer in court, who said he saw a black man poke
his head out of the woods at about 1:45 p.m. Everything else
the officer says makes it likely he meant 12:45 p.m., not 1:45
p.m. But Janney needs to make the later time stick in order to
prove the officer couldn’t have seen Crump and that there was,
therefore, a second black suspect in the woods that day.
Janney says officers Roderick Sylvis and Frank
Bignotti arrived at a boat house about a mile east of the murder
scene at about 12:30 p.m. Janney says they waited “about four
or five minutes” after arriving at the scene. Then, he says they
exited their patrol car and spent “about five minutes positioning
themselves for their eastward trek toward the murder scene.”
I don’t believe officers would rush to a murder scene and then
sit in the car for four or five minutes before getting out. That
makes no sense. It sounds more like Janney has used the same
five minutes twice to make ten. Next, Janney says the two got
out of the car, walked about 50 feet (4 yards), and stopped to
talk to a couple on the path to ask what, if anything, they had
seen. The officers said this took about five minutes. Even if
Janney was right to add the first five minutes twice, adding
another five minutes should bring Janney to 15 minutes, making
the time 12:45 p.m. Janney says, however, that 30 minutes had
then provably elapsed, that the time by now was about 1:00 p.m..
I’m not kidding. See for yourself on pages 122-123 in his book.
And it gets worse. Janney says Officer Sylvis
then walked a mile towards the murder scene, at which point he
saw the head of a black man pop up from the woods to look at
him. Janney allows that he could have walked a mile in 15 minutes.
I agree. But that puts the time at 1:00 p.m., even with Janney
double-counting those first five minutes. That’s fifteen minutes
before Crump was arrested. But Janney can’t even follow his own
math here and states that 45 more minutes had elapsed, putting
the time well after Crump had been arrested. Can anyone else
add 5+5+5+15 and get 75, the number of minutes Janney wants us
to believe this episode took to push the time of the sighting
out to 1:45 p.m.? I can’t. Janney did.
Sylvis said it took him about 15 minutes to
return to his fellow officer along the path he had come. That
makes sense. If it took 15 minutes to get out about a mile, it
should take the same 15 minutes to return. That puts his total
time on the ground there at about 45 minutes (5+5+5+15+15), which
is also what Sylvis testified to in court.
If we don’t double-count the first five minutes,
as Janney apparently did, the time that Sylvis would have seen
the man in the woods was about 20 minutes before his arrest.
That would have been about 12:55 p.m. – not 1:45 p.m. That would
make sense, and would have given Crump and the cop who eventually
arrested him time to get to the same place by the time of Crump’s
arrest at 1:15 p.m.
Janney claims in an interview with Sylvis,
Sylvis confirmed the “1:45 p.m.” timeframe for the sighting.
But without knowing what exactly Janney asked, and what exactly
Sylvis answered, I don’t find this useful. Did Janney just read
him his testimony and say is that what you meant? Presented out
of context, such an answer would be meaningless. And Janney offers
no other new information from Sylvis that would explain how 45
minutes became 75.
Janney uses similarly questionable math with
Detective John Warner, who said he got to the canal path at about
12:30 p.m., waited a few minutes, and then walked 45 minutes
west, at which point he found the wet Ray Crump. Janney presents
the trial testimony of Warner’s account of a question and answer
exchange between Warner and Crump. Janney claims, incredibly,
that the time it would have taken to have this conversation and
then walk a tenth of a mile would have been ten minutes. I decided
to check this out. It took me about 45 seconds to repeat, out
loud, at a normal conversational pace, the seven questions and
answers, and I even elaborated on the answers. Let’s round that
off to a minute. How long does it take to walk one-tenth of a
mile? If you can walk one mile in 15 minutes, as Janney has already
conceded, then you can walk a tenth of a mile in 1.5 minutes.
That’s 2.5 minutes, total, not 10. It’s hard to believe that
a man with a BA from Princeton, a PhD from Boston University
and an MBA from Duke could have such trouble with simple math.
But logic does not define Janney. What defines him is his desire
to promote his theory of who killed Mary Meyer and why. Any evidence
that gets in the way is simply discarded or reshaped to fit his
Co-authored by Damore
The lack of logical rigor is not Janney’s
problem alone. He shares that with Leo Damore, who should reasonably
be called the book’s co-author. Janney relies on him at every
turn, even buying Damore’s deus ex machina solution
to Meyer’s murder: a CIA hit man did it. Which hit man? William
Mitchell, says Janney, based on Damore’s lawyer’s notes of a
call with Damore.
A jogger named William Mitchell had gone to
the police after hearing of the murder to describe a man who
had been following Mary. The man that Mitchell saw exactly fit
Crump’s clothing and description. And what is Damore’s evidence
that Mitchell was hit man and not just witness? Janney tells
us that Mitchell appeared to have used military and teaching
titles as fronts for CIA work, and once lived in a nearby CIA
William Mitchell may well have been an intelligence
agent, but that doesn’t mean he killed Mary Meyer. Oh, but Mitchell
confessed, according to Damore, says Janney. That’s right. Janney
actually believes a CIA hit man would confess to a journalist
who had every intention of making the comment public that he
had killed Mary Meyer. Any hit man worth his salt knows better
than to confess to a gig, especially if he ever wants to work
again, much less live to talk about it. (No tape of this allegedly
taped conversation has ever surfaced.) And the story is really
even flimsier, as Janney didn’t even get this second-hand from
Damore. He got this third-hand, from Damore’s lawyer.
Janney would have us believe the following
scenario: Meyer, an essentially powerless citizen who held no
elected office, who was so private it was noted in the title
of her only biography, is targeted for assassination. Why? Because
she didn’t believe the Warren Report. I kid you not, that is
the extent of what Janney offers as a motive, although he takes
many more pages to do it. To control the damage, lest the private
woman start espousing conspiracy theories to her CIA neighbors
(who would then presumably turn suddenly chatty after years of
keeping the Agency’s secrets), a large-scale assassination plot,
comparable to the one that killed Kennedy, is launched, according
to Janney. Unlike the Kennedy assassination, however, where Oswald
was designated as a patsy in advance, Crump is chosen as the
designated patsy the morning of the crime, in Janney’s scenario.
Someone on the hit team radios Mitchell what Crump is wearing.
Presumably, Mitchell then runs to J. C. Penney, waits for the
store to open, finds just exactly the right combination of clothes,
right down to the plaid hunting cap, which miraculously fit both
him and Crump exactly, and rushes back to the tow path in time
to kill her shortly before 12:30 p.m.
Not only does Janney have Mitchell killing
Meyer in essentially plain sight, he then has Mitchell stopping
and pausing deliberately to allow witness Wiggins to get a good
view of him. Evidently, Mitchell was some sort of mentalist,
too, as he convinced Wiggins to identify him as a black man,
instead of the white man that he was.
Based on Damore’s rantings to his lawyer and
the lawyer’s cryptic notes of that session, Janney concludes
that Damore had learned that Mitchell killed Meyer for the CIA.
But Damore was, by then, paranoid. Janney mentions in the beginning
of the book that Damore “began a mysterious downward of spiral
of paranoia and depression” toward the end of his life. Some
of Damore’s closest friends, according to Janney, claimed Damore
thought his phone was being tapped. One of them said Damore thought
he had been poisoned. But what was the real cause of Damore’s
paranoid behavior? You don’t learn until the end of the book
that, in the last year of his life, Damore had an undiagnosed
brain tumor and ended up committing suicide. Janney suggests
the CIA manipulated him into committing suicide, even though
Damore had told Janney he had thoughts of suicide and begged
Janney to take him in. Extraordinary claims deserve extraordinary
evidence. Janney offers nothing in that regard.
And Janney does not stop at Damore’s wild
and possibly tumor-induced scenario regarding Mitchell as CIA
hit man. He makes his own father a part of it. Wistar
Janney, a CIA analyst, called two friends to alert them to the
likelihood of Meyer’s death early in the afternoon: Ben Bradlee,
whose wife was Mary’s sister, and Cord Meyer, whose wife used
to be Meyer.
I don’t see anything sinister in the timing. The radio identification
matched that of Mary and she lived in the area. It was a logical
assumption. Astonishingly, author Janney leaps to the most sinister
explanation possible: his father was privy to the hit and therefore
culpable in the murder.
I couldn’t help but think, at this point,
of Jim DiEugenio’s hilarious recounting of Robert Slatzer’s efforts
to promote a story about Marilyn Monroe. The man Slatzer approached
told Slatzer he didn’t find his story credible, but that if he
had been married to
Ms. Monroe, now that would
be a story. A week later Slatzer returned to the man and said
hey, I forgot. I was married
to Marilyn, for 72 hours, in Mexico. Yeah right. I couldn’t help
but wonder if Janney’s “revelation” about his father’s involvement
had a similar genesis, given how long Janney had been trying
to sell a project based on a CIA murder of Mary Meyer.
A mutual friend had put me in touch with Janney
years ago, and we had a series of email arguments back and forth.
At that time, Janney was peddling a screenplay based on this
scenario, with the added twist that Kennedy and Meyer were killed
because they knew the truth about UFOs. I told him at that time
that I had not found Damore’s work credible. Janney defended
him vigorously. Damore’s most famous book, Senatorial Privilege,
which is essentially a hit piece on Ted Kennedy over the Chappaquiddick
murder, was so bad it was rejected by the publishing house that
had initially given him a $100,000 advance to write it: Random
House (which eventually went to court with Damore over the advance.)
Predictably, Damore blamed the Kennedy family, claiming they
had pressured the publisher to cancel the book. As Jim DiEugenio
noted, “The judge in the case decided that, contrary to rumor,
there were no extenuating circumstances: that is, the Kennedy
family exerted no pressure. He ruled the publisher had acted
in good faith in rejecting the manuscript.” In addition, Damore
had been accused of “checkbook journalism,” i.e., paying his
sources. As the FBI found out so often in the 1960s, if people
find there’s a value in their information, they will soon start
inventing more to keep the cash coming. Did Damore not learn
DiEugenio noted that Damore’s next book agent
was Lucianna Goldberg, adding that the “nutty and fanatical Goldberg
has made a career out of targeting progressives with any influence
e.g. George McGovern, Bill Clinton, the Kennedys.” Goldberg was
a natural ally for Damore’s Kennedy attacks. For someone who
either has or likes to cultivate the appearance of a liberal
bent, it’s frankly bizarre how Janney is so credulous of Damore.
In her New York Times review
of Senatorial Privilege,
former New York Times correspondent
and journalism teacher Jo Thomas questioned a central point
of Damore’s thesis. Damore credits particularly incriminating
information to Kennedy cousin Joseph Gargan, the host of the
party preceding the tragic event in which Kennedy’s car disappeared
off a bridge into the water, drowning Mary Jo Kopechne. Thomas
notes: “What undermines Mr. Damore's account is that these
accusations, while seeming to come from a first-hand source,
are not direct quotes from Mr. Gargan, nor are they attributed
directly to the 1983 interviews. (And this is, otherwise, a
carefully attributed book, with 45 pages of footnotes.) One
cannot tell if they are true, Mr. Gargan's interpretation of
the Senator's behavior or, worse, the author's own interpretation,
based on what Mr. Gargan told him in 1983.”
Put more plainly: Thomas found no basis to
believe Damore regarding this particular account. And if you
can’t believe him on one of his most important interviews, how
much can you believe of the rest? As Jim DiEugenio has previously
noted, “That book used a collection of highly dubious means to
paint Kennedy in the worst light. For instance, Damore misquoted
the law to try and imply that the judge at the inquest was covering
up for Kennedy. He used Kennedy's cousin Joe Gargan as a self-serving
witness against him, even though Gargan had had a bitter falling
out with the senator over an unrelated matter. He concocted a
half-baked theory about an air pocket in the car to make it look
like the victim survived for hours after the crash. This idea
was discredited at length by author James Lange in Chappaquiddick:
The Real Story (pgs. 82-89).
In other words, Damore went out of his way to depict Kennedy's
behavior as not just being under the influence, or even manslaughter,
but tantamount to murder. “ This is
the guy Janney trusts?
In his own notes at the end of the book, Janney
rightfully points out factual errors in Damore’s research, without
weighting that properly. In the law there’s the saying, “false
in part, false in whole,” meaning, if any part of something is
not true, all of it should be called into question. Janney has
legitimate reason to question the rest of Damore’s account due
to this. That’s not to suggest nothing Damore
said could be believed, but one should take far greater
caution than Janney has.
The most serious credibility issue regarding
Damore is his – or Janney’s – allegation that Damore had interviewed
Kenneth O’Donnell, a trusted intimate of John and Robert Kennedy.
If O’Donnell truly said
the things attributed to him, that would be good enough evidence
for me. The problem is that Janney references no actual tapes.
He says he saw “transcripts” of these conversations. It’s hard
to believe the son of a CIA agent, who knows how the CIA operates,
could fall for something like that. Damore or frankly anyone
could have made up those conversations and injected them into
the record, waiting for some gullible soul like Janney to fall
for them. The book is so credulous of these kinds of sources
that the possibility that Janney himself invented these transcripts
cannot be dismissed out of hand, either. I’m not accusing him
of that. I’m only saying that it would be easier for me to believe
that the son of a CIA agent was actively involved in creating
disinformation than to believe that the son of a CIA agent was
such an unwitting dupe of it.
Indeed, when the Mary Meyer story surfaced
for the first time, in that bastion of credible reporting, The
National Enquirer, the Washington
Post queried Kenny O’Donnell
directly regarding whether Meyer and the president were seriously
involved. In the Post’s follow-up
article, Don Oberdorfer reported, “Former White House secretary
Kenneth P. O’Donnell said yesterday, “She knew Jackie as well
as she knew Jack.” O’Donnell said allegations of a love affair
were totally false.”
“Calling her ‘a legitimate, lovely lady,’”
Oberdorfer wrote, “O’Donnell said Mary Meyer made infrequent
visits to the White House ‘through my office -- never privately,
either, not when Jackie was away or when Jackie was there.’”
The original story in the Enquirer was
surfaced by James Truitt, a good friend of CIA super-spook
James Angleton, the man many of us researchers believe, based
on revelations from the CIA’s own files, was directly involved
in setting Oswald up as the patsy and covering up the CIA’s
role in the assassination after the fact. (See my long two-part
article on James Angleton in The
Assassinations for the wealth of evidence showing
Angleton’s involvement in the Oswald story both before and
after the assassination.) Angleton was a far-right-winger who
ran his own set of journalist-operatives off the books, funded
by his own secret source of money, according to Carl Bernstein’s
landmark article “The
CIA and the Media.”
Why did the story surface at that time,
saying what it did? Truitt used to work for the Washington
Post. Why had Truitt
never told that story when he had a much bigger media outlet
at his fingertips? Jim DiEugenio is the only person who has
ever taken the time to put the allegations of sexual affairs
between John Kennedy and Mary Meyer, Judith Exner (Campbell)
and Marilyn Monroe in their proper historical and political
context. No rumor of any such activities had surfaced during
his presidency. It wasn’t until the Republican Party was hurting
politically from the fallout from Watergate, and the CIA was
under renewed scrutiny for their possible role in the assassination
of President Kennedy, that these stories started to surface.
I encourage people to read DiEugenio’s landmark essay “The
Posthumous Assassination of John F. Kennedy” in The
Assassinations for the
full details of the evolution of this picture of JFK as sexual
DiEugenio contrasts this evolving image based
on less-than-credible sources with the image of those who provably
knew him well. Charlotte McDonnell was a longtime friend of the
president’s, but said there was no sex between them. Another
Kennedy intimate, Angela Greene, said that he was never physically
aggressive, just “Adorable and sweet.” Yet another woman who
had invited Kennedy into her place was shocked when he jumped
up from the champagne and low music to listen to a newscast. That is
the Kennedy who ran the country. That is not the image Janney,
however, wants to present.
The Enquirer article
introduced a new twist to this. Not only was JFK a cheater,
he was a doper, too. Kennedy never even smoked cigarettes.
But we’re to believe he smoked marijuana with Mary Meyer at
the White House? In the same Washington Post rebuttal
to the Enquirer article, Kennedy aide Timothy J. Reardon, Jr.
was quoted as saying that he had never heard of Meyer, and
that “nothing like that ever happened at the White House, with
her or anyone else.”
The Washington Post article
appeared in February of 1976. But Janney would have us believe
that a year later, O’Donnell would reverse his stance to a
reporter just because Damore helped O’Donnell locate an estranged
relative. Janney admits he has never heard tapes of the calls
Damore claims to have shared with O’Donnell. Janney has only
seen transcripts, or rather, alleged transcripts. Without tapes,
we can’t know if they are, in fact, transcripts.
And why would Damore, if he had such an explosive
scoop in 1977 (the last year of O’Donnell’s life), sit on that
for so many years? Why do the Chappaquiddick story at all if
you have a story about Ted Kennedy’s much more famous brother?
Of CIA officers, liars and forgers
But Janney’s credulity doesn’t stop there.
Janney uses both Robert Morrow and Gregory Douglass as sources
to the Meyer-Kennedy angle. Janney says that because their accounts
corroborate each other, they should be considered credible. What
kind of illogic is that? If person A lies, and person B repeats
the lie, that’s not confirmation -- that’s reinforcement of the
lie. How can the highly educated Janney truly not understand
Robert Morrow, a former CIA officer, wrote
three books about the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy.
The first was admittedly fiction. The second was, so Morrow claimed,
the nonfiction version of what he had alluded to in his novel.
The third was so far off base it was sued out of existence. Morrow
accused a man of having assassinated Robert Kennedy who was provably
elsewhere at the time, causing the publisher to burn the books.
Yet this is a man Janney has no trouble believing.
Another of Janney’s sources is -- incredibly
-- Gregory Douglas, aka Walter Storch, aka Peter Stahl, aka Michael
Hunt, aka Samuel Prescot Bush, aka Freiherr Von Mollendorf, aka
Peter Norton Birch, aka Peter Norwood Burch. Yes, this is another
man Janney finds credible. Douglas is a self-admitted forger
who also claims a relationship with American intelligence services.
He also wrote exposés of the forgery of others, showing a sophisticated
knowledge of the market for forged documents. This is the man
Janney believes regarding the papers of Robert Crowley, a former
CIA officer whom Douglas claimed entrusted him with his most
sensitive documents upon his death, even though the two never
met face to face.
Janney goes to great lengths
to attempt to give Douglas credibility. Why? Because he needs
the corroboration. However, another man who also stood to benefit
from Douglas’ work showed more appropriate cynicism regarding
Douglas’ claims. Mark Weber, director for the Institute of Historical
Review, an organization that supports holocaust denial, would
have benefited from Douglas’ books on the Third Reich for a series
Chief: Gestapo Chief: The 1948 Interrogation of Heinrich Müller,
had he been able to prove any of it true. But Weber, who has
a Master’s degree in history, knew better than to accept Douglas’
claims at face value. He actually checked Douglas out and found
him seriously wanting in the credibility department. Regarding
Douglas’ work, in which one of Douglas’ wilder claims is that
Hitler didn’t die in Germany but escaped to Spain, Weber wrote:
“My view that the
Gestapo Chief series is an elaborate hoax is based not only on
an examination of the books themselves, but on lengthy telephone
conversations with the author. From these talks, I can attest
that ‘Gregory Douglas’ is intelligent, loquacious, knowledgeable,
and literate, but also amoral, evasive, and vindictive. Those
who have spoken at any length with him are struck by his chronic
cynicism -- a trait that, interestingly enough, is reflected
in the words he attributes to Müller throughout the Gestapo Chief
“His son, with whom
I have also spoken, sometimes fronts for his father as the author
of the Gestapo Chief books. For more than a year the son has
been living and working in Rockford, Illinois, under the name
Gregory Douglas Alford. He is also a former staff writer for
the Sun-Star newspaper of Merced, California, and the Journal-Standard
of Freeport, Illinois. Apparently he has sometimes used the name
So “Gregory Douglas” isn’t even just one person.
It’s two. None of this apparently bothers Janney.
Janney appears to be the only person in the
research community to have taken Douglas/Storch/Stahl/Hunt/Bush/
Mollendorf/Birch/Burch’s book seriously. Most researchers believe
Douglas forged the documents he claimed to have obtained from
the now dead CIA officer Crowley.
Several people have asked me lately if I found
Crowley credible. How can I answer that, when it’s not clear
that any of the documents
Douglas/Storch provides are actually from Crowley?
All we have is this proven liar’s assertion that they are.
Janney sources emails ostensibly between Joe
Trento, the actual legal recipient of Crowley’s files, and Douglas.
Douglas lies to Trento in these mails, saying “Walter Storch”
(one of Douglas’ own aliases) gave Douglas Trento’s name. Crazy
stuff. And did Janney check the emails with Trento? Or did Douglas
just invent the so-called exchanges? Jim DiEugenio talked to
Trento and asked him why Crowley would give his files to two
different writers. Trento told DiEugenio emphatically that Douglas
was "a complete liar" who didn't "have anything”
of Crowley’s. Seriously, would anyone believe that a top CIA
operative from the covert side of the agency would trust a man he
had never even met in person with
the CIA’s most important secrets? Janney would, evidently. I
In addition, I know personally how
Douglas operates. Douglas’ “news” site “TBR News” published
an article ostensibly written by me that I
never wrote. It was clearly designed to look like
I had written it, when I had not, even to the point of including
a rather awful picture of me with it. I wrote Douglas and said
that article was not by me and asked that it be removed. It
was never taken down, as you can see from the link above. So
how can I find Crowley credible, when all the data from him
comes from Douglas? How can I find Janney credible when he
believes a proven liar?
Janney says he never heard tapes Douglas claimed
to have from Crowley, but read transcripts, and believed them
credible. What is it with Janney and transcripts? Anyone can
make anything up and type it. Again, I must ask: How could a
man who was born into the world of lies, whose own CIA father
was friends with one of the CIA’s manipulators of the media,
Cord Meyer, fail to consider these possibilities? And CIA history
aside, how can a man who went to Princeton, earned a doctorate
from Boston University and an MBA from Duke be that gullible,
And then there’s Timothy Leary. Janney’s use
of Leary made me laugh outright. Janney sources the claim that
Meyer and JFK smoked pot in the White House to Leary, but just
a few sentences earlier, he had noted that Meyer never named
names when talking to Leary. What was the source of that particular
information? Leary himself! If Meyer never named JFK to Leary,
why is Leary so certain the two smoked pot at 1600 Pennsylvania
Regarding the specific allegation about the
episode between Meyer and Kennedy, Leary’s own biographer, Robert
Greenfield, believed Leary had just invented the story about
Meyer and Kennedy to spice up the sales of his book. Greenfield
noted that Leary had fabricated having an affair with Marilyn
Monroe in the same volume. As Jim DiEugenio noted, “Leary understood
that sex, drugs, and a dead Kennedy sells. Apparently, so did
Damore.” Janney is traveling a well-worn, but not credible, path.
DiEugenio noted that in all the many books
Leary wrote prior to the one where he made the allegations re
Meyer, Leary never whispered a hint that he was sitting on such
information. Janney attempts to bolster Leary on this point.
Janney wrote that Leary had made
an initial attempt to investigate Meyer’s murder in 1965. But
Janney’s source for this data is -- I kid you not -- Leary himself!
How can you bolster the shaken credibility of someone by quoting
the same person? To Janney, that’s credible evidence. In the
real world, that’s not evidence at all!
Janney also uses Ann Truitt, wife of James
Truitt, as if she would be a credible source. Both Ann and James
were close friends of Angleton. Angleton was a master of disinformation,
and used friends and mentees (such as Edward J. Epstein) to convey
his thoughts to the world. So pardon me if I dismiss anything
any friend of Angleton’s says with a grain of salt. She might
have told the truth, but unless I could verify that independently,
I’d never believe her on any point. Janney, of course, must believe
all these sources, no matter how incredible, or he’d have no
Janney even tries, although tentatively, to
use C. David Heymann to back up his allegations of the Meyer-Kennedy
affair, although by then, I had written a long article showing how
questionable Heymann’s work is, and Janney claims he confronted
Heymann about these allegations, upon which Heymann got defensive.
Yet, even after acknowledging the challenges to Heymann’s credibility,
Janney still cites
Heymann’s information as at least partially confirmed. C’est
Even beyond the lack of credible sourcing,
the book has many other problems. Janney resurfaces long-discredited
information as if it is fresh, new, and proven, such as the allegation
that Robert Kennedy was at Marilyn Monroe’s house the day she
died. Kennedy’s whereabouts in Northern California that day have
long been established. Reading such bad history like that makes
me feel like I’m playing Whack-a-mole. No matter how many times
you beat the disinformation down, it keeps popping up again.
(See Jim DiEugenio’s aforementioned essay in The Assassinations for
a breakdown of this fiction.) There are many other such “facts”
that aren’t facts at all. That’s why I think the book should
come with a warning label. Most people will believe what they
see in a book, thinking that publishers are checking the facts
as they go. They are not! No one does that. If they did, a large
number of books would have to be moved from the “nonfiction”
to “fiction” sections.
Where’s the beef?
Lastly, the style of the writing itself is
off-putting. I like my fiction luscious, but my nonfiction dry.
When nonfiction starts to read like fiction, in my experience,
it usually is. As someone who is working on a book myself at
the time of this writing, I know how tempting it is to try to
put words in someone’s mouth. But I resist that temptation. If
I say someone “thought” this or that, it’s because that person
actually wrote or told someone their thoughts at that point in
time. I don’t try to imagine thoughts for them. Janney, on the
other hand, relishes putting thoughts in other people’s heads.
Consider how Janney embellishes the Truitt assertion that Meyer
and JFK were toking at the White House:
“She was curious
as to how he might react. At first, he had become ‘hungry’ for
food – ‘soup and chocolate mousse’ -- before their amorous embrace
that evening, where she might have held a more tender man. The
connection may have frightened him initially, but her self-assured
presence and trust likely conveyed that he was, however momentarily,
safe -- safe in her arms, safe in her love, even safe in his
own realization that it might be possible for him to face the
sordid, fragmented sexuality that kept him from his own redemption.”
That’s not fact. That’s not history. That’s
poor, fantasy-induced supposition and shoddy scholarship.
In addition, Janney seeks to embellish moments
that should not be embellished. Does anyone really want to read
this, save those with a perverse love of gore? “She must have
smelled the stench of burning flesh and gunpowder as something
hard and hot seared into the left side of her skull just in front
of her ear. A gush of wet warmth poured down her face, soaking
the collar of her blue angora sweater, turning it red.”
Janney tries to make an epic love story out
of a story which, when read strictly on a factual basis, sans
Janney’s spin, seems anything but. Here’s a typical passage:
“What drove Jack back to Choate that weekend remains a mystery.
But he returned, unaccompanied, a stag. Perhaps he thought the
homecoming on familiar territory would be good for his self-confidence,
which had lagged since being forced to take a medical leave from
his studies at Princeton, still in the Class of 1939. Whatever
the force that drew him backward (or perhaps forward) isn’t known,
but something propelled him; for during the gala Winter Festivities
Dance of 1936, he would encounter Mary Pinchot for the first
time, etching into his being an unforgettable moment.” How many
facts were in that paragraph that matter? One: the date that
he first met Mary Meyer. All the rest is scenery. “Too many words!”
I found myself screaming at several points while reading this
book. Get to the facts and leave the speculating to some failed
screenwriter. Oh, wait …
I believe and sympathize with Anne Chamberlin’s
comments to Janney after his persistent requests to interview
her. Janney tells us repeatedly that Chamberlin “fled” Washington
to move to Maine and thinks she isn’t talking to him out of fear
of retribution. But what does Chamberlin herself say? “It saddens
me that you continue to pursue the long-gone phantom prey. I
have nothing to say about Mary Meyer, or anything connected with
Mary Meyer.” Too bad Janney didn’t make that his guiding principle
Janney’s own life story would have made a
better book. If Janney had written about what it was like growing
up with the children of other spooks, the generation who had
to deal with the fallout of the world created by their parents,
that would have been a book worth reading. He wouldn’t have had
to trust others. He could have simply repeated his own stories
and the stories of others like Toni Shimon, daughter of Jose
Shimon, a top CIA operative. The best parts of Janney’s books
are direct quotes from the children of spooks who learned only
slowly what their fathers really did for a living, and the emotional
challenges growing up with a father who couldn’t share what he
did took on the families, assuming those quotes are accurate.
That would have been a book worth reading. This one, simply,
Review of Peter Janney’s Mary’s Mosaic Part
By Jim DiEugenio
The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK,
and Malcolm X
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Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and
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Enemy of the Truth: Myths, Forensics
and the Kennedy Assassination
by Sherry G. Fiester
Forensics can be a complicated subject,
yet Fiester provides the reader with easily understood, accurate, information.
Enemy of the Truth: Myths, Forensics and the Kennedy Assassination is so
comprehensive in its approach, this work should be used in the instruction
of all new crime scene investigators nationwide. William