Thursday, September 30, 2010
Photo Andrea Mohin/The New York Times
Gene Case RIP December 6, 1937 - September 9, 2010
Gene Case was an early and enthusiastic supporter of COPA - the Coalition On Political Assassinations, and used his finely tuned Madison Avenue advertising skills to advance our cause.
While he once designed a classic anti-war advertising campaign in support of Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater, Case devised an ad for COPA that ran in the Dallas newspaper on the 40th anniversary of the assassination that featured the famous photo of LBJ being sworn in aboard Air Force One on November 22, 1963 with the caption: REGIME CHANGE.
At the time of his death he was preparing a much larger campaign for the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination with a poster made of a JFK half dollar with a bullet hole in the head and the caption: "50 Years Of Denial Is Enough - Release the Secret Files Now - Unearth the Truth by 2013."
John Judge, COPA director, wrote, “I just tonight found out that my friend and supporter Gene Case of Avenging Angels, Inc. in NYC passed on September 9 this year. Gene was a JFK assassination researcher, advocate inside The Nation magazine, supporter of COPA and the Museum of Hidden History, brilliant and progressive ad man, and a wonderful human being with a sense of humor.”
From an email sent to me this year:
I am slouching toward the Fiftieth Anniversary in 2013. That will be ourlast, best chance to win. Obama is inspiring comparisons to JFK and new appreciation of him and there was already (late last year?) the stunning about-face of Time magazine with its admiring cover story.
We need to make a massive community collaborative effort culminating on November 22, 21 It's true that "The Community" is not famous for itscollaborative skills. But everybody's getting dangerously old. The theme could be "KILL THE LIE BEFORE YOU DIE." Notice that it rhymes--that's alwaysgood. "The fierce urgency of now!"
See also his attached poster design.
I intend to photo-shop the attached graphic icon based on the Kennedy half-dollar, flopping the profile so that the fatal wound is on the right side and altering the date on the coin to 1963. (No-one will notice the poetic license.) Under the coin would be a title like "50 Years of Denial is Enough." It makes a good button, good logo, good bumper sticker, good book dust jacket, etc.
Best Regards, Gene
Judge notes: "Gene Case was a JFK assassination researcher, good friend and supporter of both COPA and the idea of a museum in Washington, DC that would highlight the assassination. He was thinking about and working toward a 50th anniversary conference and campaign to get at the truth after 50 years of denial. He did covers for the Nation and often tried to change their policy of not printing information on the conspiracy. A brilliant ad man, he left a commercial firm and wealth to form his own ad agency dedicated to helping progressive causes. I worked with him during its first year, finding clients in the nonprofit advocacy groups in DC. He will be sorely missed in our circles."
"At one small gathering of key JFK researchers for a weekend he asked 'Is this just a hobby for you guys or do you want do something about it?'"
"His slogan for Avenging Angels, Inc. was 'It's time for the better angels of our nature to start kicking ass!'"
"Indeed. Let's not let him die in vain. John Judge"
NEW YORK TIMES OBIT
Gene Case, Who Marketed After-Shave and Politicians, Dies at 72
By BRUCE WEBER
Published: September 13, 2010
Advertising portfolios are grab bags, collections of products and services and ideas connected only by the person who was hired to sell them. But certainly Gene Case, who helped peddle Lyndon B. Johnson for the presidency and Tums for the tummy, had a wider sales range than most.
Gene Case, who helped found an ad agency in the 1960’s, turned his energies to liberal political causes.
Mr. Case, who worked in advertising from the age of “Mad Men” to the age of Obama, founded the half-billion-dollar agency Jordan McGrath Case & Partners, created the “Thanks. I needed that” campaign for Mennen Skin Bracer and spent his last years creating campaigns on behalf of liberal causes, died Thursday in Manhattan. He was 72.
The cause of death was a heart attack, the family said.
Mr. Case was a copywriter at Doyle Dane Bernbach, the agency that created the “Think small” campaign for the Volkswagen Beetle, when he was assigned to Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 campaign against Senator Barry Goldwater. He worked with the team that created the famous antinuclear “Daisy ad,” in which the image of a little girl counting down the petals of a daisy melds into the image of a nuclear explosion.
In another signature ad from the campaign, a young man who says he has always been a Republican talks to the camera for an astonishing four minutes about his fear of Goldwater, his party’s candidate, as a nuclear hawk. According to Stephen Kling, senior art director of Mr. Case’s last agency, Avenging Angels, Mr. Case wrote the copy for that ad.
In 1966, Mr. Case’s ads, focusing on issues like pollution control, helped Nelson A. Rockefeller win a third term as governor of New York. He also wrote the ads for Rockefeller’s failed attempt to win the 1968 Republican presidential nomination. Later, after he and others formed the agency that became Jordan McGrath Case & Partners, Mr. Case wrote ads for the New York mayoral campaigns of Robert F. Wagner and Bella Abzug.
Jordan McGrath was largely a commercial agency, however; at its peak, in the 1990s, it booked $500 million a year. One of Mr. Case’s more memorable creations there was the Skin Bracer campaign in which different men (including a young John Goodman), applying the “chin chiller” after shaving, would be slapped across the face (or would slap themselves) and utter the catchphrase: “Thanks. I needed that.”
Mr. Case also worked on ads for Tums, the antacid, and came up with the idea for a musical tag, “tum-ta-tum-tum,” chanted to the rhythm of the theme from the television show “Dragnet.”
“Which we paid for through the nose for the next 15 years,” Patrick J. McGrath, one of Mr. Case’s former partners, said with a laugh in an interview.
In 2002, Mr. Case returned to the political arena when he helped found Avenging Angels, an advocacy ad agency that creates campaigns for liberal causes. His ads there opposed the war in Iraq and nuclear proliferation and supported the Democratic National Committee, the environmental group Riverkeeper, bans on assault weapons and the magazine The Nation.
“I’ve been in this business for 42 years,” Mr. Case said in an interview in The New York Times in 2003 about his decision to return to advocacy advertising. “And I’ve never been so productive, so happy — and so poor.”
Eugene Lawrence Case was born on Dec. 6, 1937, in Knoxville, Tenn., where his father, Harry, was personnel director for the Tennessee Valley Authority, the New Deal program under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Like his father, Mr. Case graduated from Cornell, where he studied architecture. He took his first copywriter job in 1961, at the J. Walter Thompson agency.
Mr. Case’s first two marriages, to Mary Jane Austin and Ilon Specht, ended in divorce. He is survived by three children from his marriage to Ms. Austin: Christopher, of Mamaroneck, N.Y.; Alison, of Williamstown, Mass.; and Timothy, of the Bronx. He is survived by a son, Brady, of Manhattan, from his marriage to Ms. Specht. He is also survived by a sister, Marcia Schlaff, of Manhattan; his wife, Sylvia Rodriguez Case, whom he married in 1994; their daughter, Billie, of Manhattan; and nine grandchildren.
Mr. McGrath, his former partner, said that Mr. Case had been an especially skilled writer but that even that gift had paled in comparison to his creativity as a pitchman.
“He was without a doubt the best presenter of advertising who ever lived,” Mr. McGrath said. “Clients were sometimes unhappy because the ads weren’t as good as the presentation.”
A version of this article appeared in print on September 19, 2010, on page A32 of the New York edition.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Joseph B. Smith Portrait of a Cold Warrior – Second Thoughts of a Top CIA Agent (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1976) P. 59.
...“As far as psychological warfare is concerned, it’s a brand new field. We are all learning. You remember it was one of Hitler’s strongest weapons. The Communists depend on it a lot to. We figure that if we analyze what they’re doing and study the countries in our area closely, we can beat them at their own game.”
“Oh yes, another thing,” she added, “We won’t be able to spare you for any clandestine tradecraft training. That would take another three months. We need you now. You’ll have to learn the business on the job. I’m afraid.”
“Well,” she added as an afterthought, “we will be able to help you with psychwar. Paul Linebarger, our consultant, is one of the few real experts and he gives evening seminars for us. We’ll try to get you into one of them after you’ve settled in.”
...One important contingency to consider in case a situation worsened rapidly and a take over by the Communist guerrilla armies appeared imminent was the operational effectiveness of assassination of the leaders of these groups.
For example, in Indochina, would the Viet Minh fall apart if Ho Chi Minh were assassinated? He appeared to be the soul of the movement. The evidence indicated that he was the one man nearly all Vietnamese respected and his efforts had provided the decisive cohesion that held the Communist cause together. If he were removed, wouldn’t this one death perhaps save the lives of many?
This was the key point on which discussions of assassination turned, the same kind of reasoning that led to the dropping of the first atomic bomb. An assassination meant the death of one person. If the situation is one of armed combat, killing is an accepted activity. Maximum accomplishment via minimum violence became a primary consideration.
Thus assassination was always a contingency action to be included in the plans, though approval would have to come from the National Security Council before any assassination was attempted. Another practical problem was where to find the assassins. The reading of case studies of the successful assassinations by Soviet secret service counterparts, such as the killing of Trotsky, wasn’t much help because the Soviets service exercised a control over its agents we could not impose, certainly not on Asians. That left only criminals and cranks to be considered for recruitment to perform this service...P. 75...
All this was far in the future and far less important to me in the early winter of 1952 than the fact that I got the chance to attend Paul Linebarger’s seminar in psychological warfare. Linebarger had served as an Army psychological warfare officer in Chungking during the war. He had written a textbook on the subject in 1948
In 1951 he was serving as the Far East Division’s chief consultant. He also served as the Defense Department in the same capacity, giving advice on U.S. psychwar operations in Korea, and he was professor of Asian politics at the School for Advanced International Studies of the John Hopkins University. His book by this time had gone through three American editions, two Argentine editions and a Japanese edition.
He was far from a textbook warrior, however. He best described himself when he wrote the introduction to his book, “Psychological warfare involves exciting wit sharpening work. It tends to attract quick-minded people – men full of ideas.” His wits scarcely needed sharpening, and he was never at a loss for an idea.
The seminars were held in eight weeks, every Friday night at his home. Going to Paul Linebarger’s house on Friday evenings was not only an educational experience for those who attended the seminar, it was also an exercise in clandestinity. Learning covert operational conduct was considered part of the course. Each seminar was limited to no more than eight students. They were told to pose as students from the School of Advanced International Studies, to go to Paul’s via different routes, and to say they were attending a seminar on Asian politics. Senator McCarthy had alerted everyone to the possibility that Communist operators might be expected to turn up at almost any place in Washington. The School of Advanced International Studies had its campus in Washington, but over in Baltimore at the main campus of John Hopkins University, Owen Lattimore, the expert on Asian geography, held sway. McCarthy had called Lattimore the principal agent of Communist China in the United States.
Although no one called Paul Linebarger the principle agent of Chiang Kai-shek, his father had been Sun Yat Sen’s legal advisor and Paul never hid his full devotion to the Chinat cause. The feeling of the clash of mysterious powers was abroad in the cold winter nights around Paul’s house. It could just be possible that some Communist surveillant might follow one of the students up Rock Creek Park to 29th Street. They might even be operating from the Shoreham hotel, a few blocks away. We had been thoroughly indoctrinated in the fear of Communist subversion....It would be difficult to say whether it was the political atmosphere in general, the office routine of the day just closed, or the drawn drapes in Linebarger’s living room, but students at the seminar met in an appropriately conspiratorial mood tht raised the level of their appreciation of their subject.
The mood was fitting if not essential to an understanding of the material. The first point that Linebarger made was that the purpose of all psychological warfare is the manipulation of people so that they are not able to detect they are being manipulated. Wartime psychwar had been a matter of undermining the enemy civilian and military will to continue the fight. The audience, in brief, was very clearly defined. Determining just who it was they wanted to manipulate and for what ends was also pretty clear to the OPC personnel. Their targets were the Communists and their allies. Having this firmly in mind, any methods of manipulation could be used, especially “black propaganda.”
Black propaganda operations, by definition, are operations in which the source of the propaganda is disguised or misrepresented in one way or another so as not be attributable to the people who really put it out. This distinguishes black from white propaganda, such as news bulletins and similar statements issued by one side in a conflict extolling its successes, of course, or other material just as clearly designed to serve the purposes of its identifiable authors.
During World War II black propaganda operators had a field day. German black operations against the French consisted of such enterprises as sending French soldiers letters from their hometowns telling them their wives were committing adultery, or were infected with venereal diseases, giving away mourning dresses to women who would wear them on the streets of Paris, or intercepting telephone communications in the field and giving confusing or contradictory orders.
Paul Linebarger’s was a seminar in black propaganda only. One reason for this was that the United States already had an overt propaganda agency as part of the cold war apparatus. In those days this was run directly by the State Department, but in 1953 it would become formalized into the United States Information Agency and become an independent government agency responsible for worldwide United States propaganda operations. Furthermore, the view of the state of affairs in the world was that was the fundamental assumption of all OPC activities was that the United States was faced everywhere with an enemy that was using an untold array of black psychwar operations to undermine the nations of the world in order to present us with a fait accompli one fine morning when we would wake up to find all these countries under Communist control. Hence, it was vital to understand all about such operations from a defensive standpoint if nothing else. There was, however, something else. This was an attitude produced by the mixture of ancient wisdom that a good offense is the best defense, and the spirit of the times that made the existence of conspiracy seem so real. It was good to feel that we were learning how to beat the Communists at their own game.
Paul Linebarger loved black propaganda operations probably because they involved the wit-sharpening he liked to talk about. Also, he was so god at them that his was one of the inventive minds that refined the entire black operations field into shades of blackness. Linebarger and his disciples decided that propaganda that was merely not attributed to the United States was not really black, only gray. To be called black it had to be something more. Furthermore, they divided gray propaganda into shades of gray. So-called light gray was defined as propaganda that was not attributed to the United States government, but instead, for example, to a group that was known to be a friendly source. Medium gray or “gray gray” was the term LInebarger used for propaganda that was attributed to a neutral source or, in any case, to one that was not suspected to be about to say anything friendly concerning the United States or its national or international policies. Dark gray was the term for propaganda attributed to a source usually hostile to the United States. This left the term black propaganda for a very special kind of propaganda activity. Black propaganda operations were operations done to look like, and carefully labeled to be, acts of the (Communist) enemy.
Not only was the attribution given the source of the propaganda activity used as a criterion for defining what kind of propaganda it was, but equally important was the kind of message used. Gray activity involved statements or actions that supported U.S. policies. Black propaganda operations, being attributed to the enemy, naturally did not. In fact, black propaganda, to be believable, supported the enemy’s positions and openly opposed those of the United States.
Gray propaganda was considered to be useful because it added strength to our side by putting praise of the United States or, at least a reasonably stated understanding of U.S. positions, in the mouths of those whom the world at large would not identify as U.S. spokesmen giving out the official line. In one sense, gray propaganda is a close cousin of the endorsement in a commercial advertising campaign. Where the Clandestine Services came in was in the role of sponsor – but a sponsor that was not supposed to be known to anyone who heard or read the endorsement of the U.S. government’s policy product...
Mostly however, we followed our mentor through a series of actions that were to be attributed to various of our Communist enemies……Saying that the Communists were evil was merely talk. Doing something evil, disguised as Communists, would have real credibility.
Linebarger was always careful to point out that to have a chance of success, these black operations must be based on good solid information about how the Communists Party we proposed to imitate actually conducted its business... [Communists Huks in the Phillipines used as an example].
It may seem curious, but it did not bother anyone at the seminar to be blithely engaged in planning a forgery, although no one there had ever been arrested for any serious crime. Otherwise they would not have been there. They would not have been granted the necessary security clearance to have gained employment by the Clandestine Services. The finer points about forgery, however, were actually the most fascinating to this group: how to obtain authentic paper, how to be sure to use the same kind of typewriter that Huk orders were usually written on, and of course, how to be certain to use the proper language that would make our work indistinguishable from the real thing. These were the topics examined with the most minute care.
Linebarger undertook a kind of group therapy approach to try to show us that tricking someone into believing that black is white comes naturally to everybody and is something that is practiced from childhood.
“Look,” he began, “can’t you remember how you fooled your brothers and sisters and your father and mother? Try to remember how old you were when you first tricked them.”
This got the class confessional under way. Soon people began recalling how they had stolen their brother’s and sister’s favorite toys…..As the stories progressed from grade school to high school and college capers, the tales of manipulation of parents and peers grew darker, if not black to the point of Linebarger’s definition of black operations. Everyone had either forged the time of return from when coming back to a dormitory after hours or forged parents’ signatures to bad report cards, or used false credentials to buy a drink when under age.
We found these exchanges so interesting that we decided to open each evening’s session with twenty minutes of confessions. They undoubtedly helped us to study the art of falsifying Communist documents with the high enthusiasm we all developed.
After listening to these recitals for a couple of weeks, Linebarger asked, “Haven’t any of you done anything more exciting than figure out ways to have your drinking and sexual adventures? I know none of you as in a psychwar outfit during the war, but has anyone done anything more nearly operational?
To everyone’s surprise Boston Blackie, our group anti-hero and skeptic was the one who replied....“...there was a referendum in Massachusetts on the question of birth control information...Then one of the priests got an idea. He suggested that we explain to the parishioners that if the voters approved the change in the law and permitted birth control information to be legally disseminated, this would mean that they would have to get a written permit from the government if they wanted to have a baby...
Linebarger thought this was an excellent story. He beamed, “I wish we had access to Church records for the past thousand years, we’d have so many case histories that we would be sure to find something to fit all our needs in Asia right now. The Catholic Church didn’t last this long as an unalternable institution without giving God’s will some assistance.
“I want you all to go out and get a copy of David Maurer’s classic on the confidence man. It’s called The Big Con, and it’s available now in a paperback edition,” Paul continued. “That little book will teach you more about the art of covert operations than anything else I know.”
“Your job and the confidence man’s are almost identical. The point of our little confessionals has been to show you what I mean by that statement. I’m happy to say I think you’ve been getting it...”
“Of course, your motives and those of the confidence men are different. He wants to fleece his mark out of his money. You want to convince a Chinese, a Filipino, and Indonesian, a Malay, a Burmese, a Thai, that what you want him to believe or do for the good of the U.S. government is what he thinks he himself really believes and wants to do.”
“Maurer’s book will give you a lot of ideas on how to recruit agents, how to handle them and how to get rid of them peacefully when they’re no use to you any longer. Believe me, that last one is the toughest job of all.”
We were all soon avidly reading The Big Con. The tales it told did, indeed, contain a lot of hints on how to do our jobs. For me one sentence seemed to sum it all up beautifully, “The big-time confidence games,” wrote Maurer, “are in reality only carefully rehearsed plays in which every member of the cast except the mark knows his part perfectly.” * [ David W. Maurer, The Big Con (New York: Pocket Books, 1949), p. 102.]
Besides this course reading, exchanges of experiences, development of model situations, study of Communist propaganda, especially its style and content with an eye to copying them, Paul taught by the oldest method, precept. His injunction was to follow the example of proven successful practitioners.
He had two leading operational heroes whose activities formed the basis for lessons he wanted us to learn and whose examples he thought we should follow. One was Lt. Col. Edward G. Lansdale, the OPC station chief in Manila, and the other was E. Howard Hunt, the OPC station chief in Mexico City. Both of them had what he called “black minds,” and the daring to defy bureaucratic restraints in thinking up and executing operations. He had a number of stories to tell about the exploits of both. He was particularly fond of Lansdale, whom he claimed had “invented” the Philippine Secretary of Defense, Ramon Magsaysay, around whom he built a plan of action that was slowly but surely bringing the Huk uprising to an end. His esteem for Hunt lay in his admiration for what he considered Hunt’s great ability to invent a clever way to thwart the Communists in their efforts to achieve success in the everyday affairs of life. He had a favorite Lansdale story and a favorite Hunt story to illustrate what he admired in each, and to demonstrate two widely different kinds of black operations. Lansdale’s was somewhat complex and required the support of a number of people and pieces of equipment. Hunt’s was disarmingly simple.
Lansdale ordered a careful study of the superstitions of the Filipino peasants, their lore their witch doctors, their taboos and myths. He then got hold of a small aircraft and some air-to-ground communications gear. He would fly the aircraft over areas where Huks were known to be hiding and broadcast in the Tugalog language mysterious curses on any villagers who designed to give the Huks food and shelter...
Linebarger’s Howard Hunt story was much less heavy. It also fitted better Linebarger’s definition of a black operation. No one had quite the heart to ask him whether the Filipino spirits to whom the curses were attributed were Communists, as his definition of black propaganda would require, and, if so, were they cursing their own team, the Huks.
Linebarger liked to stress that his Hunt story was a good example of how to cause the Communists a lot of grief on a low budget. Hunt learned that a Communist front in Mexico was planning a reception to honor some Soviet visitors. Drinks, refreshments, and a lunch were planned for the event. Hunt got hold of an invitation. He then went to work with a friendly printer and printed up three thousand extra invitations, which he had widely distributed.
On the day of the reception, Hunt got the desired results. Before the reception was a quarter underway, the Communists had run out of food and drink…..The cause of the Soviet-Mexican friendship was definitely damaged, at least for a while.
A note of caution that Linebarger added to these discussions of black operations sounds like a bell down the years. He would explain, after someone had come up with an especially clever plan for getting the Communists completely incriminated in an exceedingly offensive act, that there should be limits to black activities.
“I hate to think what would ever happen,” he once said with a prophet’s voice, “if any of you ever got out of this business and got involved in U.S. politics. These kinds of dirty tricks must never be used in internal U.S. politics. The whole system would come apart.”
I remember there was a nodding of heads when Linebarger delivered this admonition. I do not recall that anyone agreed in a loud, firm voice. Perhaps his remark was thought to be really rather irrelevant. We had more serious business to attend to.
We would say goodnight to Paul in the vestibule of his house, and slip, one by one, out into the night to our cars parked a discreetly different distances from his home. We had just completed another session in the act of confounding our enemies. We were inspired to go back to work the following week and look for fresh opportunities to devise new operations against the Communists.... (P. 86)
Thursday, September 23, 2010
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.