Back to Bethesda – JFK’s Last Hurrah?
BK Goes Gonzo – A Report on the September 2014 AARC Conference – The Warren Report – 50 Years of Significant Disclosures – Bethesda, Maryland
By Bill Kelly
Where to begin? As David Kaiser quotes the King in Alice in Wonderland – “Begin at the beginning and go on ‘till you come to the end, then stop.”
Good advice well taken, but there’s before the beginning – what Shakespeare called the Prologue – as inscribed on the granite statute in front of the old National Archives building in Washington D.C. - "What Is Past Is Prologue," and the title of their magazine – Prologue, which has published some important articles on the assassination.
The original Prologue from McBeth is a prologue to a murder, but it doesn’t just mean that you need to understand the past to understand the present – the prologue provides the deep background, the social situation, the meaning behind the crime, so you know what inspires the murder and why things happens.
John F. Kennedy was either the victim of a deranged lone nut without clear motive or the President was killed by his enemies, a pre-planned and well executed plot, a conspiracy and a coup d’etat.
But it must be one or the other and can’t be both.
Although no one has ever been brought to justice for the murder or any of the crimes related to it; what is wrong and can be legally demonstrated to be false is the Warren Report’s official proclamation that the President was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald alone, with no clear motive and Oswald was in turn killed by Jack Ruby alone and unaided.
Since the September 1964 release of that report there have been many sensational revelations that not only call into question this basic conclusion of the Warren Report but a new model of the assassination is emerging; one that takes all of the facts into consideration and makes some sense of it all.
As G. Kinston Clark said in The Critical Historian - book that got me hooked on history: the distortion produced by bias is potentially present in any attempt to write history. Sometimes the danger is obvious and menacing, sometimes it is covert coming from unexpected angles and in not easily detected forms….Any interpretation which makes use of facts which can be shown to be false or accepts as certainty true facts which are dubious or does not take into account facts which are known, are at best, potentially misleading and possibly grossly and dangerously deceptive….It is the first task of the historian to review any narrative to find what links are missing altogether…where what is defective cannot be supplied by further research, it is an historian’s duty to draw attention to the fact so that men can know where they stand.…Any historical conception which has not been adjusted to the most recent results will cease to be satisfactory.”
What do we now know to be false that we thought was true and what do we know now that we didn’t used to know in regards to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy? That is the question posted.
To set the prologue and deep background let me explain that Jim Lesar, Esq., the president and director of the Assassinations Archives and Research Center (AARC) decided to host this conference on the 50th Anniversary of the Warren Report not only to call attention to what significant disclosures have been made since the report was released but also show how records are still wrongfully being withheld today and why it’s still important to do something about it now. [ASSASSINATION ARCHIVES – AND RESEARCH CENTER]
As far as the public’s confidence in their government; it is generally acknowledged that the late September 1964 publication of the Warren Report sparked the first negative spike in the statistical graph and the steady and continuing decline in the public confidence in government has not yet abated and will not until all of the assassination records are released to the public. [Confidence in Government | JFKCountercoup]
Lesars’ call for this conference led to the hiring of AARC Executive Director Jerry Policoff who pretty much put this conference together himself, keeping it academic, serious and meaningful. He now knows what John Judge of COPA and Debra Conway and Larry Hancock at Lancer had to do to make their many annual Dallas conferences successful.
Knowing Jerry from his early articles on the assassination in the late 70s and his original participation with COPA, he knows me too, so when I was offered the opportunity to make a presentation at the conference I considered bringing the ONI files to the forefront, since nobody else was talking about them, though eventually they were mentioned on the final day by Joe Backes. [JFKcountercoup: The Railroading of LCDR Terri Pike / OSWALD’S ONI RECORDS REVISITED | COPA]
I decided instead however; to update the state of the Air Force One radio transmission tapes, a more popular topic that almost went viral after the October Wecht conference in Pittsburgh. [Passing the Torch | 13th Annual Symposium | Duquesne University]
There have been many JFK Assassination Conferences over the years, but only a few stand out – the NYU Law School conference in NYC the late 1970s, Dallas ASK, Chicago 4th Decade, 1992 and 1993 DC COPAs, the 2008 and 2013 Wecht Institute symposiums, but this 2014 AARC conference marks the ending of an era.
There was another conference going on in DC the same weekend and I will get around to that later, [The Warren Report 50 Years Later: A Critical Examination] and another one is being planned for Dallas in November [JFK Lancer], but here I will focus on just the Sept. 2014 AARC Conference in Bethesda and why what happened there is important.
As a speaker I wouldn’t be paid but they would arrange for my transportation, room and banquet dinner, so I was in, and planned on driving down but then, thanks to GPS hooked up with independent researcher William Paris who met me early Thursday afternoon at a Dunkin’ Donuts just off of the highway. I had the pleasure of driving to DC with William in his Sube wagon full of band equipment, as he plays guitar in a popular Jersey Shore rock band (Billy Walton Band // HOME). His plan was to stay with his folks who lived nearby and attend the conference Friday and early Saturday with his father before leaving to catch a gig at the Jersey Shore on Saturday night. I would have to leave early with him or find my own way home, which turned into quite an adventure.
On the ride down I had a flashback on the trip I took to DC for the first COPA meeting with Bob Danello, a police lieutenant who was one of the early supporters of COPA who had a keen interest in Cuba.
One of the pertinent things Will Paris mentioned was the fact the apparent Lone-Nut fall-back position seems to be taking shape and they are now saying that - okay, Oswald did it alone, but he wasn’t just a deranged loner, he was a deranged loner with secret intelligence connections – Cuban Communists connections, the original cover-story, and this had to be hidden at the time or it would have started World War III.
The thing about this scenario is it assumes the fact that the assassination operation was meant to be discovered as a Cuban Communist Conspiracy and the cover-up rejected that notion using the excuse that it would lead to war, just as 9/11 led directly to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. So instead of going to war or even finding out who was really behind the assassination, the deranged lone nut cover up was devised and accepted and saved the world from nuclear annialation. Or so the story seems to go – or is apparently going. Well we’ll just have to wait and see.
When I checked into the first class Bethesda Hyatt Regency hotel I was at first mistaken for another guest – another William Kelly but Jerry Polifoff, who was located by cell phone at a deli-liquor store fifty miles away, quickly straightened it out – I was registered under the name Bill Kelly. So I had a namesake registered at the same hotel that weekend – harking to my recent blog post on Double-Identities in JFK assassination research. [JFKcountercoup: Double Identities in Historical Research and the HSCA Records of Richard A. Sprague, Esq.].
After checking out the price of a beer at the hotel bar, I wandered around the corner to find the small and quaint Tommy Joe’s, a typical collegiate bar in a new and bustling neighborhood of bars, restaurants, shops and cafes.
“Hey Bill!” came a call from across the street.
Who could possibly know me here? I looked over and it was Zack, an Ohio school teacher in for the conference who I had met at the Wecht conference in Pittsburgh the previous October. Zack is the kind of young historic researchers who will have to step up and take over as the next generation of researchers, and he seems up to the challenge.
Back to the hotel for a 6:30 pm Meet and Greet, conference registration and casual cocktail party in the Presidential Suite on the 11th floor, I got on the elevator with a half dozen others who I didn’t recognize but looking around I had an eerie feeling and flashed to the elevator scene in Robert Redford’s “Three Days of the Condor,” where the Condor gets on an elevator with the Jackal assassin and a couple of silly giggling college kids.
While it was a silent ride, once off the elevator we introduced ourselves and it turned out the other passengers on the elevator ride were Marie Fonzi, widow of journalist and former Congressional investigator Gateton Fonzi, HSCA investigator Dan Hardway, former anti-Castro Cuban terrorist Antonio Veciana and Ernest Trivitts – a Russian professor, former close friend of the accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and suspected KGB operative.
What a crew, I thought, my instincts proved correct.
I introduced myself to Marie Fonzi, told her Gaeton was a hero of mine, and so was she for carrying on his work, especially in this area.
Just off the elevator I met Buell Wesley Fraser, who gave Oswald a ride to work on the morning of the assassination, and Fraser’s wife Betty, a charming Texas couple with an interesting story to tell that doesn’t jive with the official version of events.
Then Anthony Summers was suddenly there too, just off a plane from Ireland.
Standing off in a corner former HSCA investigator Dan Hardway introduced himself to Veciana, noting that while it was the first time they met, he knew quite a lot about Senior Veciana from having worked closely with Gaeton Fonzi and Ed Lopez, both of whom did know Veciana personally. While Veciana can understand and speak English, he is more comfortable and prefers Spanish and had with him his son, a high school history teacher, and a translator, the very capable Fernanado Amati.
Lopez, short with crew cut hair, still has a boyish look about him, one that belied the CIA when he and Hardway finally got their security background clearance and for nine months and were given access to any CIA document they requested before being cut off. Some of the documents they read had to do with Veciana, and now, here they were standing together and shaking hands for the first time.
I took a photo of Lopez and Veciana together, and then saw a somewhat frenzied Jim Lesar trying to recruit a few extra hands to go downstairs to the front door and help unload Jerry Policoff’s car of the refreshments. Zach and I volunteered, and when Policoff showed up I grabbed a few cases of beer and some wine and hand delivered it to the thirsty in Presidential Suite.
Unpacking the refreshments I met Alan Dale and was later impressed with his knowledge of the case as well as his ease in front of the microphone. Since he is a DC band leader and used to talking to rooms full of people he did a fine job as Master of Ceremonies, a role that he will also play for a mini-JFK Lancer conference in Dallas in November.
Dale’s JFK Lancer radio program, like Black Op Radio, also includes many important interviews with researchers and writers. [JFK Lancer - President John F. Kennedy Assassination Latest News and Research]
Looking around the room I decided to check in with Tony Summers, handed him a warm beer and received a brief report on his latest subject [Anthony Summers & Robbyn Swan | This is the official blog of Anthony Summers & Robbyn Swan, best-selling non-fiction books authors] I was glad to see that he came from across the pond to participate in this conference since it’s important to get his well reasoned and respected take on the subject on the record.
I also went out of my way to sit down and talk to Buell Wesley Fraser and his wife Betty. Fraser was an Irving neighbor of Ruth Paine who worked at the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD) with Oswald and gave him a ride to work on the morning of the assassination. Fraser was at first considered a suspect in a conspiracy and was violently interrogated by the Dallas police but refused to change his story, always denied that the package Oswald took to work that morning was long enough to be a rifle, and said that Oswald never gave any indication of having the intention of killing the president that day. Oswald, according to Fraser, was also a loving father who enjoyed playing with his children and the other children in the neighborhood liked Oswald, a point Frazer thought important in judging Oswald’s character.
After leaving his job at the TSBD Fraser served in the military and while quiet and reserved for many years, he began to tell his story, first to his family and friends and then to school children and the Sixth Floor Museum as part of their Oral History Program [Living History with Buell Wesley Frazier - YouTube / Collections | The Sixth Floor Museum]. And now to this conference of primarily serious historical researchers.
Also at the Presidential Suite, Ernest Tibbits had a similar view of Oswald and characterized him as a warm, kind and gentle human being with a sense of humor, and not the usual deranged sociopath portrayed by those who claim he killed the President and a cop.
Everyone has their own perspective, not only of Oswald, but what they perceive to have happened at Dealey Plaza that day, and what would happen at the conference that weekend.
“We had not been told the truth about Oswald” – Warren Commissioner Richard Russell