Saturday, October 19, 2013

Wecht Symposium Friday, October 18, 2013

Wecht Conference - Pittsburgh - Friday, October 18, 2013

Mark Lane opened the proceedings with his report entitled, "The Secret Service and the Assassination of JFK," but arriving late, I missed the Secret Service part, and the rest of his presentation was quite good and informative, coming from one of the first lawyers to step up and try to defend the defendant, his client who was murdered in police custody.

While I haven't had a chance to read Mark Lane's latest book, his first - Rush to Judgement, and his book on the Spotlight Libel Trial are required reading for any serious student of the assassination, and Dean B. Webb, a RICO attorney, told me that Lane calls for a grand jury to be convened in this case, which is what I first called for at the Dallas COPA conference in 1998.

Following Lane, Joan Mellen, Ph.D., the Temple University professor and author of Farewell to Justice, about the Garrison case, and a later biography of New Orleans DA Jim Garrison, has also published a trilogy of books on the assassination including the fascinating account of Lee Harvey Oswald's best friend "Our Man in Haiti," which contains some new and important information, and two upcoming books on the CIA in Cuba and the Texas Mafia.

The "Unsinkable Molly Brown" of JFK assassination researchers gave her talk on "Clay Shaw Unmaksed: The Garrison Case Corroborated," which Jeff Morley found interesting enough to blog about at right away, and John Simpkin has posted a link to the paper she wrote as the basis for her talk at the Ed Forum.

I had the pleasure of some relaxing conversation with Joan Mellen in the lounge and later at dinner at Cyril Wecht's home, and I'm looking forward to reading her new books, that always contain new and valuable information.

While Dr. Gary Aguilar presented his talk on "The Medical Evidence: You Don't Need to be a Physician to Understand How Wrong the Official Conclusions Are," I took in Rex Bradford's excellent slide show presentation on "Political Assassinations Revealed: The Church Committee."

I've known Gary Aguilar for over twenty years now, and highly respect his knowledge and activism on the medical evidence, I'm not a doctor or scientist and defer most of that area to those who understand it and really know what they're talking about.

And the Church Committee is one of those Congressional investigations - along with the Pike Committee and HSCA, that at least tried to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy, and as Rex Bradford pointed out, only those parts of the Church Committee records concerning the assassination of President Kennedy were released by the JFK Act, and most of the committee's records remain sealed, as well as some documents that do relate to the Kennedy assassination but are being withheld from the public for reasons of national security.

After lunch, I made my presentation on the Forensic Analysis of the Air Force One radio transmission tapes, which was in the Duquesne Union Africa Room at the same time Robert K. Tanenbaum gave his talk on "An Analysis of Government Misconduct: The House Select Committee on Assassinations."

I had transcribed RKT's talk to the 2003 Wecht conference and posted it at my blog - see:   - and thought that most of the 400+ people who were registered for the conference would choose to hear Tanenbaum, but the room where I gave my presentation was full and there was a lot of interest in the Air Force One tapes.

I will devote another post to the contents of my presentation, but was glad that Max Holland was there, as he is the author of the book JFK Assassination Tapes and a book on the LBJ White House tapes, both of which include the Air Force One radio tape transcripts. Esquire Magazine recently published an article "Flight From Dallas" that includes quotes from the LBJ Library tapes, but does not include anything from the recently discovered Clifton Tape, which is a better quality reel to reel tape of the Air Force One conversations, and is a half hour longer than the LBJ tapes. So my presentation on the contents of the new Clifton tape included the latest and most up to date research on the subject that has yet to be published anywhere.

While Jim Lesar gave a talk in the main room on "Reviewing the Assassination Records Review Board: An Uncertain Legacy," a subject that I was very familiar with, I stuck around the Africa Room to hear Dan Hardway, Esq. give his talk on "A View from the Trenches: The HSCA and the CIA."

Those who are familiar with the investigation of the assassination by the House Select Committee on Assassination, know that the first chief counsel, who brought in New York City prosecutor Robert K. Tanenbaum to head the JFK investigation, was fired for attempting to conduct a real homicide investigation, and was replaced by G. Robert Blakey, the Cornell University professor who was a primary author of the RICO Act which made it easier to prosecute organized crime conspiracies. Blakey brought in a number of his Cornell law students as interns, including Ed Lopez and Dan Hardway, both of whom worked together on certain CIA aspects of the assassination.

Hardway dissented from the conventional view that Blakey steered the committee's investigation away form the CIA and towards organized crime, and said that Blakey never interfered with his work. Hardway also said that Blakey should be commended for recognizing that George Joannides, the CIA officer called out of retirement to serve as liaison to the HSCA, obstructed justice and should have been deposed by the committee and questioned about his role of overseeing the anti-Castro Cuban DRE group that Oswald interacted with in New Orleans.

Hardway said that the oft quoted Inspector General report was a joke, and that the IG never properly investigated anything, but instead helped cover up CIA ties to the assassination.

The final program for the afternoon, before Oliver Stone presented a segment of his upcoming multi-part TV series Untold History, consisted of a Panel Discussion led by DC attorney Dan Alcorn entitled: "From the Warren Commission to the Assassination Records Review Board, What Have We Learned?"

This panel included Jerry Polilcoff, Jim Lesar, Robert K. Tanenbaum and Dan Hardway and produced some real fireworks, that I will get into in more depth later, as all the participants were invited back to Cyril Wecht's home for cocktails and dinner, where the "symposium" - to drink together and discuss important issues - continued into the night.

More To Come -

1 comment:

Steve said...

Great write ups, Bill. Please keep them coming.