The Second Line of Defense
and Cover-Ups in 1975 and 1976
The mini-war waged by assassination researchers and a few Congressmen from 1964 to 1976 to reopen the major assassination inquiries never really disturbed the Power Control Group. But in 1975, simultaneous with the revelations about all of the terrible things the CIA and the FBI did, the researchers and a few of their friends in the media and in Congress began to draw more attention than was comfortable for the PCG.
A special renewed effort became necessary to extend the cover-ups. Part of this effort was a program to bring the media back under control and to reinforce media support of the cover-ups. This has been discussed in some detail in Chapter 9. Another part of this effort was the expansion of the Rockefeller Commission's assignment to reinforce the cover-up of the JFK assassination conspiracy. Separate new efforts were necessary to control the courts and lawyers and other public officials in the King and Robert Kennedy assassination conspiracies. These were brought about by appeals for new trials by James Earl Ray and Sirhan B. Sirhan. The appeals were accompanied by new revelations. New publicity was given to demands for an investigation into the Wallace shooting by prominent people, including Wallace himself.
A minor success in the JFK case was scored by researchers with the assistance of Dick Gregory, Geraldo Rivera of ABC, Tom Snyder of NBC, Mort Sahl and others. They managed to have the Zapruder film and other photographic evidence of conspiracy shown on local and national television. No one of any intelligence outside the PCG who has even seen the Zapruder film questions the fact that shots came from two different directions in Dealey Plaza. This breakthrough after eleven years of effort put new public and Congressional pressures on the PCG. It was closely followed by a grass roots campaign conducted by Mark Lane's Citizens Commission of Inquiry to reopen the JFK case. Pressure was brought to bear on Congressmen by their local constituents as a result of this campaign. Henry Gonzalez from Texas and Thomas Downing from Virginia introduced resolutions in the House of Representatives calling for the reopening of all four cases and the JFK case, so the public and Congress had a formal base to work with and a goal to reach.
New revelations were made in 1975 about the FBI's and the CIA's information withheld from the Warren Commission. From Dallas came the admission that Oswald had been in closer contact with the FBI than believed and that Jack Ruby had been an FBI informer.
Perhaps the most dangerous development for the PCG was the creation of a sub-committee under the Church committee to investigate the JFK assassination. This two-man subcommittee formed by Senator Gary Hart of Colorado and Senator Schweiker of Pennsylvania became a real threat when it was given authority by the full Senate Committee on Intelligence to conduct their own independent investigation with a staff of nine people. It would be harder to control their efforts than to control the Church committee, where the PCG had several strong allies, including Senators Goldwater and Tower.
Gerald Ford, William Colby, Richard Helms (from his faraway post in Asia) and the other PCG members developed a three-prong strategy for the JFK case in order to cope with all of these new problems.
First came the reinforcement of the lone-assassin Warren Commission scenario. Ford selected David Belin to be chief of staff of the Rockefeller Commission. Ford admitted that Belin in his Rockefeller Commission role -- as well as in his advocacy to reopen the JFK case in order to prove the Warren Commission findings correct -- was acting as "one of our best staff members." This was necessary so that the Rockefeller Commission could add a new assignment to its original charter and investigate the CIA and FBI. The new assignment was to prove that all of the new questions about the Zapruder film and the evidence for assassins on the grassy knoll were answerable in support of Warren Commission conclusions.
The former Warren commissioner now President, who led the cover-up and pardoned Nixon, nominated the Warren Commission staff lawyer who led the cover-up at the working level as the new Rockefeller Commission chief of staff.
Belin did his job like a faithful dog. He personally called in the most dangerous researchers, including Cyril Wecht and Dick Gregory's cohorts, Ralph Schoenman and Robert Groden, who had been making all of the noise on television. With the help (and possibly the knowledge) of only one other staff man, Belin interviewed these witnesses briefly, almost casually: then he misquoted them, edited their statements, or left them out of the Rockefeller Report. He purposefully did not call any researchers other than Wecht who might have presented some embarrassing evidence of conspiracy. He instead called a number of "experts" from the stable of PCG people, including some of the Ramsey Clark doctors panel that had examined the medical evidence in 1968 to back up the Warren Commission during the Garrison investigation and the Clay Shaw trial. He also called on reliable Dr. Lattimer, the urologist, to testify again about the bullet wounds above the navel.
Belin wrote the chapter of the Rockefeller Commission Report himself. It formed a base for controlled media presentations of the lone assassin scenario. CBS used much of the basic material in its series in 1975. Others quoted liberally from the favorite misquotes of Cyril Wecht and the statements of the CIA doctors concerning the fatal shot at frame 313 of the Zapruder film. That had always been a sticky point with Belin and the other Warren Commission defenders and technical cover-up artists in the PCG. Belin was nearly driven to distraction at times, trying to avoid any discussion of the back-to-the-left acceleration of JFK's head following the Z313 shot.
He was therefore delighted to be able to produce a medical opinion that the back-to-the-left motion was consistent with a shot directly from the rear. The fact that no ballistics experts or physics experts were called to testify about Newton's second law of motion and what happens to an object when struck by a rifle bullet traveling at twice to three times the speed of sound was never questioned by the Rockefeller panel or the media. Belin easily eliminated the assassins on the grassy knoll simply by persuading the FBI to say the assassins weren't there at all.
Over a period of several months in the second half of 1975, the PCG (through its control agents in the 15 media organizations, and by using Belin's creation) hammered away again at the lone assassin thesis. They caused the wave of excitement and furor created by Gregory, Lane, Groden, Schoenman and their friends to die out. Lectures on university campuses, discussions on FM radio talk shows late at night, and conspiracy books and articles in underground newspapers appeared as always. But there was no more showing of the Zapruder film on ABC, NBC or CBS; nor was there any talk of conspiracy in any of the major fifteen national news media organizations.
The second part of the strategy was to create a fall-back, or second line of defense in the JFK case. If necessary the same idea could also be applied in the other three cases when the situation became too dangerous. There was less danger in 1975 in the RFK, MLK and Wallace cases because the researchers and the media had not yet consistently begun to tie in the CIA, FBI and other PCG high level people. In 1976 a danger emerged in the MLK case when it was revealed that J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI might be linked and that Hoover attempted to get King to commit suicide. However, that development occurred several months after the implementation of the strategy began in the JFK case. Of course there had never been any danger with the Chappaquiddick crime, because few researchers realized what the PCG had accomplished in that event. No suspicions existed in Congress either, beyond some curiosity about Tony Ulasewicz and E. Howard Hunt's strange visits to the island and to Hyannisport.
There may be several second lines of defense positions already prepared for the JFK case. The one that has been implemented in 1975 and 1976 is the "Castro did it in revenge" position. The PCG realizes that while the media will behave like slaves to present the first line of defense (Oswald did it alone), the public isn't buying it any more. In 1969, shortly after the Clay Shaw trial ended, the percent of people disbelieving the lone assassin theory fell to its all-time low of just over 50%. By 1976 it had risen to 80%, despite the faithful efforts of CBS, Time, Newsweek, et al. More importantly, Richard Schweiker, Gary Hart, Henry Gonzalez, Thomas Downing, and a very large part of the House and Senate weren't buying the lone assassin story any more either.
So, a good second line of defense story was needed. It had to be one that the House and Senate and Schweiker, Church, Downing and hopefully Gonzalez would buy. It had to be one which could be created out of existing facts and then shored up by planted evidence, faked records, dependable witnesses lying under oath, and once again, the control and use of the media. The "Castro did it in revenge" story met these requirements. The media had already helped to some extent by publishing information from Jack Anderson, Lyndon B. Johnson and others about Castro's turning around various CIA agents or sending agents of his own, including Oswald, to assassinate JFK. Perhaps even more importantly, Senator Schweiker said he believed Castro might have been behind the assassination and that this possibility should be investigated.
The Castro story strategy was implemented in 1975. Gradually at first, a story appeared here or there in the press about the assassins assigned to kill Castro. Then the media began to reprint the Jack Anderson story about Castro's turning around of some of these agents. New authors of the story appeared. Anderson's original story seemed to be forgotten. These articles never seemed to have an identifiable source or any proof. Hank Greenspun of the Las Vegas newspaper circuit and the man involved with Howard Hughes, Larry O'Brien, released a story to the Chicago Tribune. He said his information came from reliable sources.
The momentum began to build. More and more "leaked" information about Castro and assassins and Oswald being a pro-Castroite hit the establishment media. The stories and the sequence of events began to be predictable, if a researcher had understood the PCG and their fight for survival in 1975 and 1976. Then the Church committee and the Schweiker sub-committee issued statements that they were going to investigate the "Castro did it" theory. The PCG began feeding them information in various forms and various ways that would back up the idea. The JFK sex scandal was released by Judith Exner. The PCG provided her with an incentive to spice up the "Castro did it" theory with a little sex involving JFK and one of the assassins assigned to Castro, John Roselli.
The PCG realized they had the double advantage of drawing attention to Roselli and Castro and the turn-around assassin idea, while at the same time gnawing away at JFK's image. There was press speculation that Exner was a Mafia plant in the White House to find out how much JFK knew about the Castro assassination plans. Since Frank Sinatra had introduced Judith to both JFK and Roselli, there was speculation about Sinatra's Mafia friends linked to the rat pack, to Peter Lawford, to JFK's sister and to JFK himself. All of this was meat for the PCG's grinder. It certainly drew Schweiker's attention away from Helms, Hunt, Gabaldin, Shaw, Ferrie, Seymour and all of the other operatives involved in JFK's murder. In fact, the Schweiker staff, which had the names and locations of several participants and witnesses that could pinpoint the Helms-Hunt-Shaw-Gabaldin group as the real assassins as early as September, 1975 did not interview more than one or two of them and did not follow up on the rest at all. Their attention was diverted by the second line of defense strategy and they were also influenced by infiltration by the PCG.
Part three of the strategy was the control of the Congress and the committees in the House and the Senate concerned with investigations of the intelligence community and the JFK assassination. This subject will be covered in depth in Chapter 14. Suffice it to say here that the PCG planted people on the staffs of the Church committee and the Schweiker sub-committee. They exercised control over the other committees in the House and Senate (Abzug, Don Edwards, Pike committees) and they controlled the House Rules committee, which effectively blocked the Gonzalez and Downing resolutions for over a year.
The CIA has always had its supporters in both House and Senate. So has the FBI. So did J. Edgar Hoover (sometimes through blackmail) and Richard Helms. There was a story published in the Washington Post about a dinner party given by Tom Braden, former CIA man, at which all of Richard Helms' old buddies rallied to his defense. Several well-known Congressmen were there and Senator Symington gave a rousing speech supporting Helms in his hour of need.
Gerald Ford, of course, as then titular leader of the PCG, had many old friends in the House. Nixon had many supporters in both House and Senate and still has to this day. Thus, control by the PCG over Congress and committees is not all that difficult. Specific examples will be given in Chapter 14 of how this really works. So the cover-ups continue. The PCG is still in the driver's seat. The three parts of their strategy work very well. The lone assassin story is repeated at least once a month in some media source or other. The "Castro did it" story will no doubt make its official appearance again.
The Congress is under control. Gonzalez was not under control, nor was Downing. But they couldn't do much without the Rules Committee, which was controlled.
The people are left with no effective way of doing anything about the PCG and their crimes. What is worse, there is no way the people can elect the man of their choice.
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