You probably never heard of Francis William Holbrook Adams, but he was a New York City Police Commissioner (54-55) who was appoined Senior Counsel to the Warren Commission and given responsiblity for developing the basic facts of the case.
Adams was a no-nonsense guy, and when he realized there wouldn’t be any real investigation, he didn’t bother to do anything, though his name is still on the Report. By backing out however, Adams gave the Junior counsel on the commission to step up and make a name for himself.
Here’s a book review that I wrote when the book came out in 2000. – BK
PASSION FOR TRUTH
Arlen Specter’s Passion for Truth – From Finding JFK’s Single Bullet to Questioning Anita Hill to Impeaching Clinton, by Arlen Specter, with Charles Robbins (William Morrow/Harper Collins, 2000) – A review by W. Kelly
Sometimes, probably most times, passion isn’t enough. Passion reflects deep-rooted, engrained beliefs exhibited by feelings that are sometimes irrational, often wrong and frequently misdirected. Passion always raises the volume of conversation and blood pressure and sometimes escalates into violence, while seldom changing minds or opinions.
The truth on the other hand, is something worth being passionate about. I’m passionate about the truth too. But I’m after the total truth that makes for revelation, understanding and sometimes action, and not the politically expedient kind that Arlen Specter expresses in his autobiography.
This book is a good self-portrait of the senior Senator from Pennsylvania, and is well-written with the assistance of his long-time aid Charles Robbins. Being well-written doesn’t make it right, however, and Mr. Specter is wrong about one of the most significant points of modern American political history – the assassination of the 35th President of the United States.
Specter’s position as a key player remains strong, as he is a significant and pivotal mover and shaker in the national political drama, especially as it relates to the U.S. Senate, the Supreme Court and the American public’s confidence in government.
The people’s confidence in the government, or lack of, is the gist of this book. The purpose of this book, what it’s really trying to accomplish, is to set a framework to regain the American public’s confidence in their government. It’s a legal base founded on the basic, fundamental lie that attempts to perpetuate the myth that the 36th President of the United States assumed power because of the actions of one, lone, deranged gunman.
This lie is important to uphold, at least for those in power, because the truth, if legally established, breaks the line of democratic succession and begins a line of illegal governments that maintains power today. Like the line of heavyweight champions of the world that stems back to Jack Johnson, or the succession of Popes, the legitimacy of the Presidency and the American government depends on this lie being maintained.
And thus, even though it is in total opposition to the truth, we have Specter and the 20% of the citizens allegedly believing and in this case espousing this lie. The basic truth that’s understood by most Americans and people of the world is that John F. Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy, a covert intelligence operation and a coup d’etat that can and should be exposed, but whose perpetuators have yet to be held accountable for their actions.
Specter however, can, should and will be held accountable for his actions. Specter himself has been blamed for the continuing decline in the public’s confidence because of his “Single-Bullet Theory,” the “Conclusion” reached by the Warren Commission that the assassination of President Kennedy was the result of the actions of one individual – Lee Harvey Oswald.
THE SINGLE BULLET CONCLUSION REVIVED
As recounted by Specter in his “Prologue: The Single Bullet Conclusion,” he claims he cannot go an entire week without having someone ask him about it.
One particular incident stands out for Specter, the time at the Perot presidential forum in July 1995 when he was confronted by a newspaper reporter with the allegation that, “Cynicism in America all began with your Single-Bullet Theory and was flamed by Watergate.”
Indeed, as Arlen says, “It was a heavy charge. I had developed the Single-Bullet Theory more than thirty years earlier as a staff lawyer on the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, more commonly known as the Warren Commission. [See: Sidebar A]. It began as a theory, but when a theory is established by the facts, it deserves to be called a conclusion. The conclusion is that the same bullet sliced through President John F. Kennedy’s neck and then tore through Texas Governor Connally’s chest and wrist, finally lodging in the governor’s thigh, as the presidential motorcade wound through downtown Dallas on November 22, 1963. The Warren Commission adopted the Single-Bullet Conclusion as its official explanation. Essentially the reporter was accusing me of bringing cynicism to American government, with Richard Nixon as an accomplice years after the fact.”
As Specter did with that reporter, “I gave him the same basic discourse I had given to Chief Justice Earl Warren several blocks away at the Texas School Book Depository Building on an equally torrid Dallas day thirty-one years earlier,” and the same one he gives today, now on an almost daily basis. [See: Sidebar A].
“I do not know how much my explanation impressed the journalist at the Perot forum…. But the reporter who raised the issue about cynicism in government struck a raw nerve, far more important to the public dialog than any budget blueprint or crime control formula.”
CONFIDENCE IN GOVERNMENT
“A central problem in America today is distrust of government. It goes beyond cynicism. Many Americans believe that their elected representatives are for sale and that their government lies to them. When momentous historical events occur, such as the assassination of President Kennedy, the popular reaction is that the government deceives and covers up through an explanation like the Single-Bullet Theory….In the three decades since President Kennedy’s assassination, voter participation has plummeted, threatening our democratic process; militias have sprouted in more than forty states; and public confidence in America’s institutions has gone into free fall.”
“Part of the cure demands that Americans move off the sidelines and onto the playing field. Democracy, after all, is not a spectator sport. But our political and social health also rests on government’s doggedly following the facts to find truth and then acting on that truth to create public policy. Generally, when people can agree on the facts, on what is true, they can agree on what should be done in a just society.”
Okay, agreed, Arlen, I’ll take you up on that, get off the sidelines and into the game, and if we can agree on some specific, important facts, we should be able to agree on what should be done and change public and government policy as it relates to political assassination in America.
While this book also contains Specter’s suggestions “for combating distrust in America by showing how congressional and other governmental inquiries can reveal the truth, how Senate hearings on Supreme Court appointments can answer important public questions on nominees’ fitness, and how the Congress responds to international crisis,” this report sticks strictly to the references to the assassination of President Kennedy, which Specter calls “the single most investigated event in world history, with the possible exception of the crucifixion of Christ.”
Specter also calls our interest in the mystery murder of the century as “an almost morbid obsession,” and that, as he continually points out, “questions still linger about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.”
But unlike the Lincoln assassination, which has slipped into the realm of history and for which a number of conspirators were tried and executed, the murder of John F. Kennedy remains an unsolved homicide for which someone can still be indicted, as there is no statute of limitations. And that’s the way we must approach this crime.
While this book has all the pretensions of an official autobiography, details of Specter’s family life and education, from Kansas to Cornell, are left for a more responsible biographer. For example, the years 1949 thru 1956 are summarized in one sentence: “I met a beautiful blonde, Joan Lois Levy, at a dance when I was a college sophomore, and she was still in high school. Four years later, in 1953, we married, months before I entered Yale Law School. I joined Dechert [Barnes, Dechert, Price, Myers and Rhodes of Philadelphia] upon graduating in 1956.”
Okay, that’s two sentences, but a lot of formidable, formative years lost to posterity. Yale Law School? No Skull & Bones, no impressionable profs, no schoolmates, best friends for life?
We’ll blow right past all that too, as well as other interesting tidbits, like Specter taking on and standing up to some of Jimmy Hoffa’s Teamsters, Anita Hill and Bill Clinton’s impeachment, and go right for the jugular, without even getting into the argument over whether the back would was in the back or the neck.
Specter’s in Philly in the district attorney’s office on New Year’s Eve, 1963 when his law school classmate Howard Willens, then working for Robert Kennedy, called to ask him to join the staff of the Warren Commission.
SPECTER ON THE WARREN COMMISSION
Establishing the template for how not to properly investigate a political homicide, “The Commission had divided the investigation into six major areas…..Area 1Covered President Kennedy’s activities from his departure by helicopter from the White House lawn on November 21,1963, to his body’s return to the White House early in the morning of November 23, after the autopsy. Area 2 covered the identity of the assassin [Lee Harvey Oswald]. The Area 2 team would treat it as an open question, despite Oswald’s arrest. Area 3 covered the life and background of Lee Harvey Oswald, except for his foreign travel and his activities the day of Kennedy’s assassination. Area 4 picked up Oswald’s foreign travel. Area 5 covered the background and activities of Jack Ruby, who shot Oswald to death in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters on Sunday morning, November 24, 1963, two days after the Kennedy assassination. Area 6 covered presidential protection for the future.”
As Mark Lane pointed out when he addressed the Warren Commission, these six panels cover everything, except “Who killed John Kennedy.” There was no panel established to review any evidence that anyone other than Oswald was responsible for the murder. Today, there is still no place for anyone to take evidence of crimes related to the assassination.
As Specter recalls, “….I chose Area 1, the president’s activities. It seemed the most compelling. Obviously, John F. Kennedy was the focal point of the entire event. I had no idea at that point of the turns the medical evidence would take or where Area 1 would lead…”
Specter notes that he was the junior attorney handling that area, while the senior lawyer was Francis W. H. Abrams, a former New York City police commissioner (1954-1955), who was quoted in the New York Post as calling the Kennedy assassination, “just another first-degree murder case.” According to Specter, “Adams thought the commission should conduct an incisive, piercing investigation, wrap up the matter, and file its report.”
“Of course,” as Specter said Abrams usually began a sentence, when Abrams realized that no such incisive, piercing, first-degree homicide investigation would take place, he left most of the work up to the junior attorney, who wrote in this book that, “The commission had hired a team of lawyers from around the country, accomplished but with limited courtroom and investigative experience. The commission deliberately chose a geographically diverse team with limited government connections to avoid any appearance of a whitewash. We lawyers used to laugh that many documents were marked ‘Top Secret,’ even though we would not get our security clearances for more than a month.”
“At the first staff meeting,” Specter specifically recalls how, “Warren stressed that our mission, and our obligation, was to find the truth and report it. From the very start, the commission understood that we should not be advocates out to prove a case but must act as independent, disinterested professionals with a duty to find and disclose all the facts, regardless of their implications. ‘Your client is the truth,’ the chief justice told us.”
Well, the truth was badly misrepresented, as was Oswald, whose official legal representative from the American Bar Association was offered the opportunity, but declined to question or cross-examine witnesses.
In addition, it is hard to accept Warren’s client as the truth with the other revelations in this book, including the fact that, “Allen Dulles may have withheld vital information from the commission, the type of vital information we were counting on him to supply. Dulles, for example, did not tell other commission members about CIA plots against Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Attorney General Katzenbach later testified before the House in 1978 that he was ‘astounded’ by the omission.”
Later, Specter writes, “In general, the various intelligence agencies hoarded information rather than sharing it. ‘It really was set up to the contrary, not to share information but to impose barriers to the attainment of information, one from the other,’ recalled Sam Stern, who dealt extensively with the agencies.”
X-RAYS & AUTOPSY PHOTOS
Under the Chapter entitled “The Biggest Mistake,” Specter writes: “The Warren Commission has been attacked – and rightly so – for not examining the X rays and autopsy photographs of President Kennedy in its investigation,” an opinion shared by fellow Warren Commission attorneys David Belin, Joe Ball and Norman Redlich. As Specter quotes Belin, “It was a decision that gave rise to wild speculation and rumor. It was a decision that violated the basic elementary rules of evidence familiar to every law student in America that when a person testifies he should have the ‘best evidence’ available.”
Then again with the Tippit photos and X-rays, Mrs. Tippitt wanted to keep “private,” instigated Specter to quote Belin again when he wrote: “One of the basic lesson of the Warren Commission investigation is the ramifications that arise when special treatment is given to a favored few….The reverberations from the decision to withhold publication of the autopsy photographs and X-rays will be felt for many decades as apart of the overall diminution of the confidence that the American people have in the integrity of their elected officials.”
“Any investigator likes to have all the facts before drawing conclusions,” writes Specter. “That applies to corroborative evidence, such as photographs and X rays, as well as to general testimony. A picture is usually worth a thousand words. The photographs and X rays could have gone a long way toward resolving the controversy over the direction and location of the shots.”
“The bullet wounds, as shown on the photographs, were consistent with the Single-Bullet Conclusion. The entrance wound on the neck was about an inch below the shoulder line in the president’s back. The exit wound, at the site of the tracheotomy in his throat, was lower. The massive head wound was also consistent with a shot from above and behind.”
SPECTER, IRA EINHORN & ARTHUR YOUNG
A case he handled while working or Dechert was that of the bail hearing for Philadelphia Hippie Guru Ira Einhorn, aka “The Unicorn,” charged with the murder of his former girlfriend, Texas cheerleader Holly Maddox, who was found stuffed in a trunk in Einhorn’s apartment a few years after she was murdered. According to Specter, “The inference was that Einhorn had killed Maddux, because they’d been heard arguing and she was threatening to leave him. The Unicorn was madly in love with the blond Texan.”
“I agreed to handle the case for the purposes of the bail hearing. When I talked with Einhorn at the Philadelphia detention center, he insisted he’d been set up by the CIA and that mind control was involved, like the feats performed by spoon bender Uri Geller. I thought Einhorn might have a winning defense: temporary insanity. A person would arguably have to be out of his mind to keep his lover’s corpse in a trunk for such a long time. That devotion and attachment might be consistant with a passion killing to stop her from leaving him.”
“Einhorn’s friends produced a long line of Philadelphia’s finest to attest to his good reputation and the likelihood of his appearing for trial. The commonwealth requested bail in the amount of $100,000. The judge set bail at $40,000, requiring Einhorn to post $4,000 cash for his pretrial release. A month before he was slated to stand trial in January 1981, the Unicorn jumped bail and fled. He remained at large for sixteen years, an international cause celebre, and was finally located in June 1997 in a village in the south of France. In December 1997 a French court set Einhorn free, ruling that extraditing him would violate his civil rights because he had been tried and convicted of first-degree murder in absentia. Recently the French have reconsidered, and Einhorn may yet face punishment.”
“Although my part in Einhorn’s case was limited to the bail hearing, the news media emphasized my role after I was elected to the Senate, to give the case more flavor.”
It’s not that the Einhorn saga needs any more flavor, when in fact Einhorn was a subject of intense study and interest by the CIA, possibly even the KGB, and definitely his good friend and neighbor Arthur Young, the inventor of the Bell Helicopter and stepfather of Michael Young, Lee Harvey Oswald’s Irving, Texas patron.
Young was married to Michael’s mother, Ruth Forbes Paine Young, whose best friend and travel companion was Mary Bancroft, Allen Dulles’ Swiss agent and lover who participated in the July 20, 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler.
Of course, Allen Dulles was just as quite about his relationship with Mary Bancroft and friendship with Michael Paine’s mom as he was about the CIA’s plots to kill Castro.
So we are to believe that Specter’s ignorance of all these significant facts at the time, allows him to escape the proper conclusions today?
No way, as we are going to inform him, so he can no longer use the trap-door, escape hatch, excuse the Warren Commission wrote into their report that, “the Commission found no evidence of conspiracy.”
Indeed, they never found it, not for the lack of effort in looking, but because they never wanted to find it and turned a blind eye towards all the evidence and facts that indicated other than what they wanted determined.
In his defense, Specter rightly cites an NBC Dateline show using an out-take clip of Specter speaking on an entirely different topic, and a NBC docudrama on Einhorn in 1999 that had an actor playing Arlen Specter saying things he never said, with the following response from NBC: “As a dramatization based on fact, the movie didn’t purport and was not understood by viewers to confine itself to the presentation of precise documented facts as does a documentary.” Specter is certainly correct when he says: “That is absurd on its face. When a person identified as Arlen Specter, an individual known to the public, makes statements in a television program, the obvious conclusion would be that Arlen Specter spoke those lines,…” Indeed they would.
And now, thanks to “Passion for Truth,” the real words Specter says, and boy are they better than anything a hack docudrama scriptwriter could dream up:
1- “That Dulles withheld vital evidence from the Commission”
2- “Various intelligence agencies hoarded information rather than sharing it”
3- “The decision not to review the autopsy X-rays was the biggest mistake and violated the basic elementary rules of evidence.”
4- That they “…got into a lot of trouble because the Illinois State Police did the ballistics.”
5- That one of the lessons the Warren Commissioned learned is the “ramifications of when special treatment is awarded a certain few,” and that the Tippitt family and the family of victims should not be able to intervene in the investigation by prohibiting the use of autopsy photos and X-rays.
6- “Lyndon Johnson, a conceivable suspect and a witness, was never interviewed.”
7- That Specter was responsible for the release of fugitive Ira Einhorn, who claimed the CIA was responsible for the murder of Holly Maddox, and who is facing extradition to the U.S. from France to stand retrial for the murder.
We don’t need any more chilling facts to beef up the drama or to know that there really hasn’t yet been an unhindered, independent homicide investigation into the murder of John Kennedy, yet.
“Truth Vanquishes Distrust”
According to Sen. Specter, “To combat distrust in America, senators – along with all others in government – must simply tell the people the truth. Sometimes this is tough. Sometimes it’s embarrassing. There is never a time when the alternative is better. I there is cause to suspect a governmental cover-up, the Senate or the House, through prompt oversight, should ferret out the facts. Had congressional oversight on Waco been as effective as it was on Ruby Ridge, the militia movement would have been less motivated to mobilize. It is even conceivable the Oklahoma City bombing could have been avoided.”
On the same token, I make the proposition that if the murder of JFK had been properly investigated and those responsible prosecuted, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and most of those that have followed could have been avoided, and assassination remains a political threat as long as the JFK case is left a mystery.
I agree with Sen. Specter when he says: “Congress should work to restore public trust by acting on key problems of public concern in a bipartisan way. People are sick of partisanship and politics as usual. President Kennedy said it best: ‘Sometimes party asks too much.’ I am thoroughly convinced that trust is the glue that holds a democracy together. Public trust must be earned, nurtured, and insulated from the effects of a sound-bite society that too often encourages the white lie or the whitewash.”
Now the first step towards the restoration of public trust is for the government, beginning with Congress, through public hearings, to review the JFK Act, the work of the Assassinations Records Review Board and the reactions of the various government agencies to the law.
The public’s confidence cannot be regained until all of the questions are answered as to what began the decline – the circumstances surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Only the truth will vanquish the distrust. Let’s have it.
Specter & Castro
From “Passion for the Truth” by Arlen Specter:
“My longest session with any world leader took place on the night of June 2 and into early morning of June 3, 1999, with Cuban President Fidel Castro, at the end of a three-day trip to Havana. Those who are waiting for Fidel Castro to die before the United States normalizes relations with Cuba may wait a long time. I can attest that in June 1999 Castro was a vigorous seventy-three-year-old, as well as garrulous, humorous, and engaging. He looked fit in his trademark green military uniform with modest insignia. We had been advised that Castro enjoyed lengthy talks. We knew we were in for a long night when the Cuban president said he had worked until 5:45 A.M. the night before but had then slept eight hours, waking at 2:00 P.M. – just six hours before our meeting. We didn’t even more from the president’s conference room to his dining room until midnight.”
“Naturally, we talked politics. I urged him to run in a contested election. He laughed and replied that if he ran against the United States. It may be that the United States is the only opponent less popular with the Cuban people than Fidel. Castro didn’t complain about the U.S. embargo or urge its removal. When I broached the subject, he said its end might actually make him weaker, because it could no longer be blamed for Cuba’s economic problems. The U.S. – Cuban situation has changed enormously in the nearly thirty-seven years since we imposed the embargo. Castro no longer threatens to instigate revolution throughout Latin America, and Cuba is no longer an outpost for Soviet expansion.”
“I questioned Castro closely about his allowing the U.S.S.R. to base nuclear missiles ninety miles from Florida in 1962 and within striking distance of Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York. He replied that he had first tried to buy weapons from Belgium, a NATO nation, to defend himself against attacks like the Bay of Pigs. When those efforts were sabotaged, he turned to the Soviet Union.”
“Castro then brought out a handwritten copy of the agreement to allow the U.S.S.R. to position missiles in Cuba. He described how he had personally redrafted legal papers. He told of going hunting with Nikita Khrushchev near Moscow when the Soviet leader read to him President Kennedy’s letter promising to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey and Italy and to leave Cuba alone. Castro said he then knew that Khrushchev had decided to unilaterally to remove the Soviet missiles, which Castro regarded as a breach of their deal. In the end, Castro said, the Russian withdraw also served Cuba’s purpose. ‘We preferred the risk of invasion to the presence of Soviet troops, because it would have established an image [of Cuba] as a Soviet base.”
“When our conversation reached its fifth hour, I brought up the CIA attempts on Castro’s life, as documented by a Senate committee in the 1970s. Plans were launched to poison Castro’s milk shake and to plant an exploding cigar. ‘Some of them were childish,’ he said. Castro said he had survived largely ‘as a matter of luck.’”
“I asked him how he felt about being the target of so many assassination attempts. ‘Muy bien,’ he replied – very well. I repeated the question. He gave essentially the same answer. I pressed, asking how he really felt. Castro replied. ‘Do you play any sports?’”
“I said, ‘I play squash every day.’”
“`This is my sport,’ he said. A truly remarkable answer. Castro claims he has escaped 637 attempts on his life. The CIA cites a much smaller number.”
“I gingerly asked about the early rumors that he had conspired with Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate President Kennedy. Castro said neither he nor anyone else in Cuba had anything to do with Oswald. ‘I’m a Marxist, not a crazy man,’ he said. I asked him if he had been concerned about the early international speculation that he was involved in JFK’s murder. He said, ‘Si,’ given that the Untied States, by his reckoning, was looking for a provocation or pretense to invade Cuba.”