Electronic Assassinations Newsletter
Those who were waiting for Gerald Posner to display the "open mind" he seeks in others, and correct the extensive falsehoods and distortions which littered the pages of the original edition of Case Closed can stop holding their breath. The "revised and updated" paperback edition has hit the shelves, and not much has really changed.
AVOIDANCE: The hyperbole and lies familiar from the original are present from page one of the "Author's Note" in this edition. Until he arrived on the scene, conspiracy theories were "virtually unchallenged" (except by the major networks, PBS, the wire services, the major newspapers, and a long succession of books, many mentioned in his bibliography). Since the major media, which have overwhelmingly defended the Warren Report, "was overwhelmingly positive" about his book, its critics ("the conspiracy community") must be close-minded; thus, he can avoid responding to specific criticisms leveled at the book. So important is Posner's tome that by attacking it, Harold Weisberg "found his first publisher" (it seems that Dell (1), Canyon Books (2) and Carroll & Graf (3) are not publishers).
SELF-PITY: Readers able to continue wading through this mush find Posner accepting comparison of himself to Salman Rushdie (wonder which Ayatollah sentenced Posner to death?) because he received harassing faxes and phone calls. He whines "I had mistakenly expected a debate on the issues," failing to mention that he canceled just such an opportunity at the 1993 ASK conference in Dallas (4), which his oft-cited colleague Jim Moore attended for the second time.
DENIAL: He assures us he ommited things from the book only for the sake of "brevity," and claims to have studied "all of the available evidence" on all aspects of the assassination before reaching his conclusions (impossible in the time he spent on the book) (5). "The remainder of the updated text in this edition," he says, "has nothing to do with the contentions raised by conspiracy buffs." In other words, he hasn't bothered to respond to any of the criticism of false and misleading statements in the original book, manipulation of sources, misrepresentation of photographs and films, blended testimony, discredited myths, and biased selectivity in his choice of witnesses (6). He can ignore this, because it is all part of a "concerted counterattack" by critics with "almost a religious fervor."
RETURN OF THE AMAZING COLOSSAL EGO: Although he conceded in a statement to Congress in November 1993 that he hadn't had time to examine the newly released files (7), he assures us that nothing in the unreleased files "alters the judgement reached in Case Closed," according to "individuals who are familiar with the still-classified documents" (in his statement, he identified these "individuals" as David Belin and G. Robert Blakey). Given the fact that the already available evidence contradictory to his conclusions has done nothing to alter his "judgement," this will come as no surprise. He has already decided that his conclusions are "the only rational judgement."
CHANGES: AN OVERVIEW: Posner has found nothing to change in the Preface, first appendix, and five chapters of the book (8). He has made only 6 modifications in the text itself; the other 24 are all limited to footnotes. Of the 40-plus books, numerous television programs, and many articles which have become available since he finished his book, he finds only 6 worth noting: Robert Groden's 1993 book (which he attacks without naming it (9), interviews of Militant staffers by Hal Verb (which he cites incorrectly (10) and without mention of Verb (11)), a CIA document found in the Archives by John Newman (whose name is also omitted (l2), a television show which featured him prominently ("Frontline: Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?"), JFK: First Day Evidence by Gary Savage (Posner attributes authorship to Gary's uncle, Rusty Livingston), (13) and fails to mention the inclusion of Jim Bowles' analysis of the acoustics evidence, which Posner continues to list as an "unpublished manuscript" (14) and Passport to Assassination by Oleg Nechiporenko. As seems to have been the case with his original investigation, his research into the new books and sources appears to have been "a mile wide and an inch deep."
OSWALD: Posner is quick to add new information that presents a negative picture of Oswald (a tape recording on which he plays a murderer (15), a KGB report that he made two bombs (16) and to delete or minimize reports contradictory to his thesis (KGB reports that Oswald was a poor shot (17)).
THE CIA: Having previously explained why the CIA didn't debrief Oswald, Posner now explains why it makes no difference that they did (18). He deletes the statement that "CIA officials have provided sworn testimony that there was no De Mohrenschildt-U.S. intelligence relationship." (19) Perhaps someone showed him the documents reported by Edward Epstein in The Assassination Chronicles (20).
NEW EVIDENCE: Posner acknowledges the two photos showing Oswald and David Ferrie at the same Civil Air Patrol cookout (one of them was featured on the same "Frontline" program he was), though he questions their authenticity, and dismisses their significance (2l). He also mentions more witnesses who saw a bullet strike the Elm Street pavement (22).
"MAJOR" ALTERATIONS: The most extensive alterations to the text occur on pages 183-185 of Chapter 9, as Posner incorporates new material from the Nechiporenko book. When it is inconvenient to attribute a previous Nechiporenko statement to Nechiporenko, Posner attributes it to "some critics." (23)
The longest wholly new section of text incorporates material from JFK: First Day Evidence, focusing on the trigger guard fingerprint evidence, also included on "Frontline." (24)
SHORING UP FOUNDATIONS: Posner tries to shore up the credibility of Charles Givens (25) and Tony Zoppi (26) in new footnotes, attacks Oliver Stone's special effects work (27) and uses one sentence from Harrison Livingstone's interview of Paul O'Connor (without naming the book in which it appears) in an attempt to discredit O'Connor (28). The Warren Commission's inability to prove the single-bullet theory is attributed to the inadequate technology of the day (29).
PERSONAL ATTACKS: The patronizing remarks of the "who needs enemies" doctor "friend" of Dr. Charles Crenshaw got a lot shorter in this edition (30). Apparently live people are riskier to attack than dead ones.
MAJOR CORRECTION: In an expanded footnote (31), Posner concedes that the computer work by Failure Analysis Associates was done for the American Bar Association mock trial, that the company produced evidence "for both the prosecution and defense of Oswald," but reverts to type by adding that "The only technical breakthroughs were on the prosecution work, and they are presented in this chapter." The defense work was "fundamentally flawed."
NON-CORRECTION: An expanded footnote on Rose Cheramie (32) mentions Lt. Francis Fruge, but continues to ignore Dr. Bowers, and to selectively filter the evidence to fit his argument.
RUBY: According to unnamed "experts on organized crime," the shooting of Oswald couldn't have been a Mob hit, because Mob honcho Joseph Campisi was one of the first to visit Ruby at the jail (33).
THE BIG LIE: A new footnote (34) explains that David Belin was "virtually the lone public voice for the Commission by the 1980s." Virtually apparently means except for Dan Rather, Gerald Ford, Alan Adelson, Hugh Aynesworth, Michael Baden, Melvin Belli, Jean Davison, Dr. John Lattimer, Priscilla Johnson McMillan, Jim Moore, Robert Oswald and James Phelan, to name a few that Posner includes in his bibliography.
SUMMING UP: The pattern of falsehood and distortion which made laughable the original book's claim to have "closed the case" on the Kennedy assassination is continued in this marginally "updated" paperback edition: a disappointment, but hardly a surprise.
1 Whitewash and Whitewash II (1966). 2 0swald in New Orleans (1967). 3 Selections from Whitewash (1993). 4 Author's conversations with ASK personel at ASK 1993. 5 For a good summary on this topic, see Harold Weisberg, Case Open, pp. 31-34. 6 See, for example, my "Preliminary Critique" in The Investigator Number 5, Weisberg's book cited in note 5, and various articles in The Fourth Decade and Dateline: Dallas. 7 Lexis/Nexis transcript. 8 Chapters 1, 2, 3 (Oswald from birth to 1959), 8 (New Orleans part 2) and 10 (Dallas Oct-Nov). 9 Footnote, p. 81. 10 Verb was told the Oswald photo was discarded shortly after it was received in April 1963; Posner states."It vanished after JFK's death." 11 Footnote, p. 108. 12 Footnote, p. 78. 13 p. 283. 14 p. 575. 15 Footnote, p. 59; did Oswald read Hemingway and Shakespeare "enthusiastically," too? 16 Footnote, p. 70; as in many cases, he fails to credit a source here. 17 Footnote, pp. 66-67; expanded from the original footnote (original hardback version p. 67). 18 p. 78. 19 p. 85. 20 Epstein, pp. 558-569. 21 p. 142. 22 Footnote, p. 324. 23 p. 184. 24 pp. 283-284. 25 p. 225. 26 p. 355. 27 p. 255. 28 p. 300. 29 p. 408; in his original note (hardback version p. 410), his phrasing conceded the theory was unproven. 30 p. 312. 31 p. 318. 32 p. 444. 33 p. 397. 34 pp. 415-416.