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A Book Review by William Davy
LEGACY OF SECRECY (Updated Edition)
The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination
By Lamar Waldron with Thom Hartmann
Counterpoint. 922 pp. $24.95
Attention JFK researchers: You can fold up the tents and go home. The case has been solved! Yep, Lamar Waldron (and presumably co-author Thom Hartmann) have closed the case for us. According to the revised edition of Legacy of Secrecy (the sequel to the equally absurd Ultimate Sacrifice), the grassy knoll shooter has been identified. And he is none other than (drum roll please) ... Watergate burglar Bernard Barker. That's right; one of Howard Hunt's handpicked Cuban operatives was the perpetrator of the dirty deed. You see, he was hired by Mafia boss Santos Trafficante who was working with fellow Mobsters Roselli and Marcello, the Teamsters, Cubans, assorted racists and some rogue CIA officers who all coalesced to ,,, ah, forget it. I'm confused too.
As we head into 2010, the "Mafia did it" theory grows exponentially in assaninity. (In light of Jim Douglass' JFK and the Unspeakable, "extinct" would be the better word). Yet these forays into the bizarre ether of Waldron's fantasies should now be familiar to readers of his logically challenged volumes. For those who aren't already painfully aware of Ultimate Sacrifice's central thesis, it is thus: JFK and RFK had planned an invasion of Cuba led by Cuban exiles (which would also require a massive full-scale military invasion of the island) for December 1 of 1963 to coincide with an American planned and supported coup d'état led by one of Fidel Castro's closest associates. This bloody coup was to also include the assassination of Castro. Of course, these invasion plans were postponed by JFK's death at the hands of the Mafia in Dallas on November 22nd.
That these central premises fail to pass even the basic of smell tests is an understatement. Let's review: The supposed Kennedy invasion plan would have required a military commitment (according to Joint Chiefs' estimates) of roughly 100,000 troops – approximately our military footprint in Iraq today. Waldron would have us believe that the Kennedys withheld this critical bit of information from Secretary of Defense McNamara, Secretary of State Rusk, Vice President Johnson, the Joint Chiefs, NSC head McGeorge Bundy and a host of others for fear that it would "leak out." Yet Waldron would have his credulity-strained audience also believe that bottom feeders like David Ferrie, Jack Ruby, the Mob and the most notorious blabbermouths of all, the anti-Castro Cubans, all had advance knowledge of the plan! The Mafia, apparently as confused as Waldron, decided to bump off JFK instead of waiting a couple of weeks for the coup plan to commence, which would have secured their former toehold on gambling and vice on the island. However, not even his brother's assassination was going to stop RFK from proceeding with the deadly plan. Waldron claims further that the gung ho Bobby was prepared to reactivate the coup plan within weeks of his brother's murder. That RFK was in no condition or position to do so is blatantly obvious to anyone who has read (and processed) David Talbot's book Brothers. On top of all of this, Castro's guy, Juan Almeida, who was to lead the treasonous coup against Fidel, is still a high ranking official in the Castro government today. (Of course, the actual reasons for the subsequent cover-up are rendered senseless by Waldron's thesis).
Ultimate Sacrifice, first published in 2005, took 904 pages to lay out its half-baked theory. In 2009 Waldron and Hartmann followed up their magnum opus with the sequel Legacy of Secrecy where their inane theorizing was applied to the MLK and RFK assassinations. And yes, the Mafia was responsible there too. You see, New Orleans Mob boss Marcello was a racist and wanted King bumped off because MLK supposedly declared war on the Mafia (I'm not making this up folks). A purported third volume will pin the assassination of Trotsky on the Mafia as well (just kidding). With Legacy weighing in at 922 pages, the combined goofiness reaches a whopping 1,826 pages, rivaling Vincent Bugliosi's overblown mess, Reclaiming History.
Now we have the obligatory "revised edition" of Legacy of Secrecy. Released in soft cover, the revision includes an addendum where Waldron lays out his shocking new Barker "revelation." Of course, as in the earlier volumes, the nonsense is presented with a patina of scholarship – copious footnotes referencing newly released documents that supposedly support Waldron's contentions. I say supposedly because in most cases they don't. For instance, in Ultimate Sacrifice Waldron refers to a key document purportedly titled "Plan for a Coup in Cuba". In fact the document is titled "State-Defense Contingency Plan for a Coup in Cuba" which takes on a totally different relevancy given its full title. Other documents apparently ignored by Waldron include a Defense Department document that refers to the invasion plan as a "sexy" contingency and not a concrete plan. Another document from the JMWAVE CIA station in Miami dated February 9th, 1964 claims the coup plot "may be nothing more than pure rumor or wishful thinking."
During his short tenure in office, Kennedy and his advisors crafted numerous contingency plans. SIOP-62, the plan to launch the entire American nuclear arsenal in one massive pre-emptive strike, was one such contingency. But by Waldron's logic, JFK was on the threshold of initiating Armageddon. This trend continues in the revised Legacy of Secrecy. Waldron states that New Orleans private detective Guy Banister was originally considered as the CIA cutout for the CIA/Mafia Castro assassination plots (a role that ultimately did fall to former FBI man, Robert Maheu). This is supported by a footnote that references two CIA documents. So far, so good. Fortunately for the reader (and unfortunately for Waldron) both documents are available on-line at the Mary Ferrell website. Waldron could actually have been on to something here, but the documents he cites are too equivocal to make that leap. The closest they come is that Banister's detective agency was being considered as a business cover (under Project QKENCHANT) and that he was subsequently not utilized. But as we've seen, this peculiar interpretation of the written record is standard operating procedure in Waldron's oeuvre. Other questionable conclusions are Barker's affiliation with David Ferrie due to their mutual pedophilia(!), and the aforementioned "Barker on the grassy knoll revelation."
Barker's presence in Dealey Plaza adds to an already bloated cast of characters. Apparently in an effort to cover all of his bases, Waldron also has on hand in Dealey Plaza: Eladio del Valle, Herminio Diaz, Michel Victor Mertz, Charles Nicoletti, Gilberto Policarpo Lopez, and an unnamed Roselli assassin. Whew! Waldron's grassy knoll has become more crowded than a Wal-Mart on Black Friday.
Just as ludicrous is Waldron's contention that two attempts on the President's life occurred earlier in November in Chicago and Tampa (both Mob sponsored of course). While there is convincing evidence of a Chicago plot (presented decades ago by Edwin Black and not the one proposed by Waldron), the Trafficante backed Tampa plot has its problems as well. The St. Petersburg Times reported in its November 23rd, 2005 edition that a Florida Department of Law Enforcement special agent, Ken Sanz was working as a consultant on a book about Trafficante. Asked about the Tampa/Trafficante plot, Sanz replies, "In all the research I've done on the matter, I've never heard of such things. Never. And quite frankly, it's fresh on my brain." But straining the bounds of credibility even further, Waldron would have us believe that JFK and RFK were fully cognizant of the two attempts, yet proceeded with the fateful Dallas motorcade on November 22nd!
Further, there is an almost pathological use of conditionals; may have, perhaps, could have, if, etc. Conversely, there is an overabundance of hackneyed declaratives where conditionals should have been used, as well as an over-reliance on unnamed sources. And yet this dogged pursuit and elucidation of the documentary record is supposed to be the sine qua non of these two books. (Along with the dubious information they gleaned from interviewing Cuban exile Harry Ruiz Williams).
Unlike my previous, lengthier review of Bugliosi's swollen tome which inspired me to invoke Shakespeare at its conclusion, I've purposely kept this review mercifully short as James DiEugenio has already done yeoman's work in revealing the fallaciousness of Waldron and Hartmann's two main volumes. Besides, it's difficult to make much ado about nothing. (Oops, there I go again).