Thursday, September 23, 2010
Mary Ferrell's JFK Manifesto
Mary Ferrell – October 6, 1992, Dallas, Texas.
As the 30th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy descends on us, I am much concerned that we are on the threshold of a failure from which there will be no forgiveness.
We must WIN this struggle for the truth…and do so very quickly, lest the assassination of President Kennedy flounder on some remote shoulder of the highway, in a century who’s history is already on the way to the printer. In the next century, this case could be relegated to obscure questions on high school history examinations.
If tomorrow’s newspapers reported having uncovered complete particulars concerning a new cast of conspirators and their motivations for assassinating President Abraham Lincoln – with John Wilkes Booth reduced to a pawn in the hands of a group of highly placed officials, would it have much of an impact? I think not. In another decade, Lee Harvey Oswald may seem as remote to the younger generation as John Wilkes Booth does to us today.
Time is our most relentless and uncompromising enemy. What happens during this conference can make a difference. Of course we will be scoffed at and demeaned by the media and the wagging fingers of Warren Commission survivors, scolding us for refusing to believe the conclusions of those honorable men. Privately they are beginning to worry.
In a recent issue of U.S. News & World Report, it was reported that seven members of the Warren Commission’s staff held a meeting in Washington in early August of this year to discuss how best to defend themselves and their report.
With the help of the establishment media, our detractors will again refer to us as “conspiracy junkies” who delight in conclaves such as this; a fringe group which would be better off availing themselves of treatment for emotional disorders, instead of working to solve a case which, according to them, was solved long ago.
History teaches us that significant changes are often accomplished by small numbers of people, facing large odds. Many of them have succeeded in defiance of the government. Thomas Paine, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Washington and their followers represented a tiny fraction of this country’s population. In the early years of their protests against British Rule, they were considered by many, especially “the government”, to be disloyal, malcontents, motivated by vile goals.
They were a distasteful joke in the face of King George’s authority and his vast legions, including so-called “loyalists” who applauded the British for hanging a school teacher named Nathan Hale. In case King George’s legions have forgotten, Washington and his followers WON that fight.
Earlier in this century, on August 23, 1927, the State of Massachusetts electrocuted Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Banzetti, Italian immigrants and anarchists, who were convicted of murdering a security guard during a robbery in East Braintree. A tremendous controversy ensued, challenging the validity of their guilt – before, during and after they were executed. Supporters of Saacco and Vanzetti were called “malcontents,” “zealots,” “agitators,” and “bleeding hearts.”
Fifty years later, on July 19, 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued an official proclamation apologizing to the families of Sacco and Vanzetti who, it had been discovered, were innocent of the crime for which they had been put to death.
The roster of those who have traveled the highway of dissent, alone, is one we should review:
- For denying his daughter admission to a public school, Oliver Brown took the Topeka, Kansas, Board of Education all the way to the United States Supreme Court…ending segregation in public schools.
- Rosa Parks, a weary black women who refused to change her seat during a bus ride in Selma, Alabama…challenged the ordinance which relegated her to the back of the bus…and won.
- An obscure minister named Martin Luther King, from the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, preached non-violent civil disobedience against intolerance…and won.
- A small band of idealists, called “Freedom Riders” appeared powerless in the face of millions of segregationists, the governors of several states…police wielding tear gas, wholesale arrests, murders, brutal beatings, and “Bull” Conner with his attack dogs….but the Freedom Riders finally won that one, too.
- In the early days of Vietnam, anti-war demonstrators, numbering far less than one percent of our population, took to the streets and ignited a movement which ended the career of Lyndon Johnson and finally, the war itself. They were labeled “peacenicks,” “beatnicks” and “traitors,” but they too, finally won.
- Two obscure reporters for the Washington Post wrote stories related to a bizarre burglary at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington D.C. They accused high officials at the White House, the Justice Department, and the Committee to Re-Elect President Richard M. Nixon of inspiring the burglary, obstruction of justice, illegal break-ins, illegal wiretaps, perjury and a plethora of other serious crimes. The perseverance of those two reporters – Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein – eventually brought down the administration of Richard Nixon and forced him to resign.
- The grandson of Italian immigrants became a lawyer – who lost 41 out of 42 cases. He became a prosecutor and finally a Federal Judge. He presided over the Watergate trial and stood up to the President of the United States, forcing the President to release his papers and secretly recorded tapes. He died in August of this year, at 89 years of age, still insisting that the system works. His name was John J. Sirica.
If you think the group assembled here today seems small, you should have been with me in 1967 and 1968 during the first meetings I participated in on this subject. Sylvia Meagher, Penn Jones, Jr., Harold Weisburg, Bud Fensterwald and I would sit in my living room or in my kitchen arguing about what we should argue about – and wondering if we would ever reach the public with our research. We didn’t have computers or fax machines, or, certainly in my case, much money.
For those of you who managed to attend this conference, I have every confidence that you are representative of millions who share our views. Please be assured that we CAN make a difference.
In the echelons of the Federal government and the establishment media, we who are assembled here are referred to as “conspiracy buffs,” “nuts,” “kooks,” “profiteers,” “charlatans,” just plain “crazies,” ….or all of the above. Remember the roster of those who have gone before us, and let’s consider ourselves in good company.
Time magazine got so alarmed with one of us a while back, they reviewed his movie without seeing it! Maybe that’s what they mean by the phrase, “a landmark in American journalism.” Jim Garrison wrote something in A Heritage of Stone that summed up my feelings about the Time article when he wrote: “First we executed the suspect (Oswald) and then we held the trial.” That was a considerable departure from what was being taught in our law schools.
That we hotly dispute one another’s theories about this case is of small consequence, weighed against our common belief that the election of our President was nullified with bullets, instead of ballots.
That is what keeps us united in our cause.
That is what, according to the polls, is a view which is shared by the overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens,….that a conspiracy and a government-sponsored cover-up, blotted out the rights of our citizens and the sanctity of the rule of law.
And that is what will forever be paramount among all of the issues which continually dog our deliberations. Issues about autopsy photos, magic bullets, pictures of Oswald which are obviously not Oswald, numbers and styles of coffins, and all of the other issues, cannot eclipse the ultimate violation of the rights of citizens in a democracy designed for the people….NOT for the convenience of elected officials and their appointees.
In the forward to Accessories After the Fact, Sylvia Meagher wrote:
“On the day of the assassination the national climate of arrogance and passivity in the face of relentless violence – beatings, bombings, and shootings – yielded in some quarters to a sudden hour of humility and self-criticism. The painful moment passed quickly, for the official thesis of the lone, random assassin destroyed the impulse for national self-scrutiny and repentance.”
A few paragraphs latter Sylvia wrote:
“Few people who have followed the events closely – and who are not indentured to the Establishment – conceive of the Kennedy assassination as anything but a political crime. That was the immediate and universal belief on November 22 before the opinion-makers got to work endorsing the official explanation of the complex mystery as Gospel and entreating all good citizens to do the same.”
Sylvia wrote those words in December of 1966.
If we are truly living in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we’d better damn well prove it now, by forcing a just resolution to an event which occurred on a public street within easy view of the building we are gathered in today.
Bob Dorff later said that he wrote Mary's speech.
Bob Dorff at the JFK Lancer Conference 2007
Debra Conway, Larry Hancock, members of the staff of JFK LANCER – ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you for bestowing this special honor on me. It is greatly appreciated.
In 1975 I read Robert Sam Anson’s book “THE’VE KILLED THE PRESIDENT.” In it, he pointed to a long list of President Kennedy’s enemies. I was so naïve I didn’t know he had any enemies. Until then, I swallowed the findings of THE WARREN COMMISSION, believed in the FBI, the CIA, Bobby Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.
Then, in 1978, I saw or listened to the public hearings of the HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON ASSASSINATIONS. The revelations of the Committee, plus Anthony Summers 1980 watershed book CONSPIRACY turned me into a non-believer and later propelled me into the field to research things that hadn’t seen the light of day, most especially the activities of an arcane CIA assassin, named David Sanchez Morales. Those efforts were memorialized in Gaeton Fonzi fine book, THE LAST INVESTIGATION. A couple of months ago, I published my own book, 22 DAYS HATH NOVEMBER which takes the Morales investigation even further.
In the summer of 1989 Gary Shaw and I were involved in organizing a small, private JFK conference in San Francisco, to be held the first week in July. This was to be a select group of JFK researchers who would focus on events in Mexico City, especially those between September 27th and October 6th 1963. Six former staff members of the HOUSE ASSASSINATIONS COMMITTEE including Cliff Fenton, Jack Moriarity, Gaeton Fonzi, Al Gonzales, Edwin Lopez, and Leslie Weisselman attended, plus eleven prominent researchers, some of whom had published significant books on the case including Anthony Summers, Peter Dale Scott, Paul Hoch, Bud Fensterwald and John Davis.
Mary Ferrell with Bob Dorff
I asked Gary about inviting the legendary Mary Ferrell, whom I’d never met or even talked with on the telephone. Gary told me Mary wouldn’t come— “she can barely walk and wouldn’t be able to make it.” The next week my telephone rang: “Is this Bob Dorff?” a woman with a pronounced Tennessee accent asked. “This is Bob,” I replied. “Well this is Mary Ferrell and I want to know why you didn’t invite me to your conference?”
When I explained, she said: “You tell Gary Shaw to mind his own business. I’m comin’ —now where should I send my money and where do I make reservations?” Then she launched into an amazingly accurate dossier on my mother’s side of the family who’d lived in Dallas for seventy five years.
“Your Uncle Gerald was a Lieutenant of Detectives on the Dallas Police force—your Uncle James was the Purchasing Agent for the City of Dallas for thirty years. Their stepfather was the manager of the Western Union office, your mother won Paramount’s annual screenwriting contest in 1926 when she worked on the Dallas Times Herald” —Mary wanted to make sure she knew who she was speaking to.
During the conference in San Francisco she and I didn’t have much time to talk. During a brief break she mentioned she had been a member of the “Women’s Auxiliary of The Minutemen.” And that her husband Buck belonged to “The Minutemen.” That quickened my pulse a few beats. They were Republican’s who didn’t vote for or like John Kennedy. They were patriots who felt that shooting the president was un-patriotic.
That was the beginning of my fifteen year friendship with a person I became very close to and loved very much.
Her memory was beyond phenomenal—often quoting obscure information about this one or that one—reciting their social security numbers—and if they were still on the planet their address and telephone number.
Mary could see through everything and everybody. After interrogating Chauncey Holt for two days she announced the man who claimed he was one of the “three tramps” was a fake. Others were sure he was the genuine article—but as always, Mary proved to be right.
She and Marina Oswald became very close. When they first met Mary demanded: “Why did you tell the Warren Commission so many lies?” “I afraid they deport me,” Marina replied.
When G. Robert Blakey took over as Chief Counsel for the HSCA, his first stop was Mary’s house. He left with stacks of documents. Later he called and explained that she would have to sign a secrecy oath with the House Committee. “I’ll be damned if I’m gonna sign a secrecy oath over a bunch of documents that came from my living room,” she told Blakey.
Intimidating Mary was just not possible.
In 1992 she was asked to give the keynote address at the annual “A.S.K.” conference in Dallas. She refused. I talked to her for over an hour trying to get her to change her mind. Finally she said: “Well Bob, if you’ll write the damned speech—I’ll do it.” She got a standing ovation —before the speech—a much longer one when she finished.
John Newman showed up the next day with a copy of a Washington Post article quoting passages from Mary’s speech. That really tickled her. “Hell, she said, “President’s have speechwriters’ —why can’t I?”
Mary’s main concern before she left us was for people—especially young people, to have access to her work. The hope for JFK research is always the future—which is the province of the young.
With JFK LANCER and other research organizations continually moving forward, plus Mary’s foundation and all of the fond memories we have of this truly original human being—her work and spirit will survive forever. And for that, we should count ourselves very lucky.