Water Man Spouts

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Betrayal of America: Part Three

"That people form opinions without any thinking that led up to them ....and that their opinions can be exposed as being flawed in a matter of seconds, was also shown to be apparent in a different context. I am writing two volumes on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. My conclusion is that I believe beyond all doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy, and beyond all reasonable doubt that he acted alone. The latter position, of course, is one that is at odds with the vast majority of Americans, who, because of their lack of knowledge about all the facts of the case, and the massive amount of misinformation that they have been fed by conspiracy theorists ... are in no position to form an intelligent opinion about it.

"In any event, back in early 1992, a few months after the factually impoverished and absurd pro-conspiracy movie JFK by Oliver Stone .... I was speaking to about 600 lawyers at a trial lawyer's convention. ..... I proceeded to ask for a show of hands as to how many did not accept the findings of the Warren Commission. A forest of hands went up, easilt 85-90 percent of the audience. So I said to them, ' What if I could prove to you in one minute or less that although you are all intelligent people, you're not thinking intelligently about the Kennedy case?' .....A voice from my right shouted out, ' We don't think you can do it.' ' Okay,' I responded, 'start looking at your watches.' With the clock ticking, I asked for another show of hands as to those who had seen the recent movie, JFK, or at any time in the past had ever read any book or magazine article propounding the conspiracy theory or otherwise rejecting the findings of the Warren Commission. Again, a great number of hands went up .... I then told the group that I didn't need a show of hands for my next point. 'I'm sure you will all agree,' I said, 'that before you form an intelligent opinion on any matter in dispute, you should hear from both sides .... With that in mind, how many of you have read the Warren Report?' It was embarrassing. Only a few people raised their hands. In less than a minute .... I had proved my point. The overwhelming majority in the audience had formed an opinion rejecting the findings of the Warren Commission without bothering to read the commission's report. And I hadn't even asked them how many had read the twenty-six volumes of the Warren Commission, just the single volume Warren Report."
-- Vincent Bugliosi; The Betrayal of America; Nation Books; 2001; pages 32-33.

"I was never one of those people who had doubts or suspicions about the Warren Commission's report on the president's death. But five years after Jack died, I was having lunch with Kenny O'Donnell and a few other people ... and we got to talking about the assassination. I was surprised to hear O'Donnell say that he was sure he had heard two shots that came from behind the fence. 'That's not what you told the Warren Commission,' I said. 'You're right,' he replied. 'I told the FBI what I had heard, but they said it couldn't have happened that way and that I must have been imagining things. So I testified the way they wanted me to. I just didn't want to stir up any more pain and trouble for the family.'

" 'I can't believe it,' I said. 'I wouldn't have done that in a million years. I would have told the truth.' 'Tip, you have to understand. The family -- everyone wanted this thing behind them.' Dave Powers was with us at dinner that night, and his recollection of the shots was the same as O'Donnell's. Kenny O'Donnell is no longer alive, but during the writing of this book I checked with Dave Powers. As they say in the news business, he stands by his story.

"And so there will always be some skepticism in my mind about the cause of Jack's death. I used to think that the only people who doubted the conclusions of the Warren Commission were crackpots. Now, however, I'm not so sure."
-- Tip O'Neill; Man of the House; St. Martin's Press; 1987; page 211.

A few years ago, my oldest son's high school social studies teacher told his class that there was no doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald killed John Kennedy, and that he acted alone. The teacher said the Warren Commission had come to a conclusion based entirely upon fact, and he dismissed any of the points that students made. The teacher was so confident that he was right, that he challenged the class to find anything that raised a "serious question" about the Warren Report.

The following day, my son brought in Tip O'Neill's book, and attempted to read page 211 to the class. The teacher took the book from him, and said that he would not allow such "trash" in his classroom.

I admire Vincent Bugliosi. I think he ranks as one of the most talented prosecutors in our country's history. I think that he is ethical and honest. I think it is good that he is writing a two-volume set of books on the Warren Report.

Yet, in one minute or less, by simply reading page 211 of Tip O'Neill's book, one can only conclude that the Warren Report is flawed. It seems a safe bet that Bugliosi and the 600 attorneys he spoke to would agree that a quest for truth cannot be built upon a foundation created with investigators pressuring eye witnesses to lie. As a prosecutor, I cannot believe that Bugliosi would have wanted police investigators to pressure witnesses to lie, because the victim's family wanted to get the crime behind them.

Recently, on the forum the Democratic Underground, there have been discussions about topics including "the magic bullet" from Dallas; 9-11; the Iraqi war; the tensions between the US and Iran; the Abramoff scandal; Plame and the neocon/AIPAC spy scandals; and a host of other very important issues. In many cases, I disagree with people's opinions, yet I admire their frankness, much in the manner that I respect Vincent Bugliosi.

I respect their frankness for the same reasons that I believe a ship's captain has the moral obligation to his passengers to avoid a shipwreck. Indeed, all civilized people share this same responsibility -- this same moral obligation -- not only to themselves, but to everyone else on board, to be skeptical and to demand the proof of any and all statements that claim to be one of fact. Because in the final analysis, all tyranny rests in fraud and deceit, and in convincing people to accept false assumptions (lies) on face-value, and any person who for one moment suspends or abandons that questioning spirit has -- at that very moment -- actually betrayed all of humanity.


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