Wednesday, September 25, 2013
JOHN CHUCKMAN REVIEW OF H. P. ALBARELLI JR's A SECRET ORDER
Well, the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination is almost here, and loads of new books on this yet not-fully-understood subject are being published.
Always having been interested in the subject, I will be reading some of the new or updated books. This is necessarily a risky task because the Kennedy assassination literature has consisted of about five-percent genuine books, with the rest an ugly swamp of disinformation, quick-buck products, and just plain stupidities.
I know that we can never fully understand the event while so many vital documents remain buried in classified government files, especially those of the CIA and FBI, but clever researchers do sometimes manage to piece together interesting new conclusions in sorting through the mounds of public evidence.
You try the best you can to not trail again into the swamp, but unless you can actually page through a book in a store, sampling its logic and writing quality – and who does that now very often with the convenience of Amazon? - you are bound to land in the muck a few times. Amazon’s reviews provide a helpful device, but experienced readers know they are larded with meaningless praises from relatives, friends, colleagues, or unscrupulous publishers trying to gin up sales. Humans do have a tendency to abuse every good thing. You really must read a number of any set of reviews with a critical eye, but then information has never been free.
I had some reason to think there might be a new approach in this book, and indeed there is, a new approach to abusing readers. Not only is the author embarrassingly uninformed, but the publisher employs a new sales gimmick: this book is incomplete, virtually ending in midstream, and you must buy volume two (and who knows after that, volumes three or four depending on sales volume?) to let the author finish.
Well, I finished with the author before he finished with me. What can you say about a writer/researcher who doesn’t know so basic a fact as that Oswald never renounced his American citizenship in Russia? The fact is that In front of State Department official (and ex-CIA employee), Richard Snyder, Oswald made a big show for possible witnesses about renouncing at the Embassy, even handing over a legally-meaningless, scribbled note. Snyder explained that the only method of renouncing citizenship involved a standard form to be sworn and witnessed. Oswald never pretended to do so. Further, Anthony Summers, in his second book on the assassination, tells us that Oswald at one point during this whole little stage play for any KGB watchers was admitted to a restricted area behind closed doors.
Yet Mr. Albarelli asserts twice that Oswald renounced his citizenship, contradicting the testimony of everyone involved including Richard Snyder, and contradicting plain logic, too, because had Oswald actually signed the papers and taken the oath he would certainly not have been entitled to return to the United States. Swearing off your citizenship is not a game, it comes with real consequences.
Albarelli pooh-poohs the idea of some highly-informed researchers that Oswald himself never did travel to Mexico City – an idea supported at least in part by the CIA’s never supplying a photo of Oswald (the Cuban Embassy there being under constant photo-surveillance) and claiming telephone-recording tapes of calls Oswald supposedly made were routinely destroyed. No, Albarelli claims Oswald went to Mexico City three times, a bizarre claim I have never come across before.
Albarelli is immersed in notions about the use of drugs and hypnotism to interrogate people and to possibly set them up for carrying out ordered acts. While it is true that the CIA did a huge number of illegal and unethical studies on uninformed people and even hospital patients - killing some of them - it is difficult to see what application this has to the Kennedy assassination. A drugged and/or hypnotized Oswald would have been no more suitable a candidate for assassin than a not-drugged, not-hypnotized one. The man was certifiably a poor shot, and the rifle he supposedly used is a ridiculous piece of garbage.
We can surmise that many pro-Warren Report books on the assassination - Gerald Posner, Priscilla Johnson, or Edward Epstein in the last book of his trilogy come to mind - were generated (either wittingly or unwittingly on the part of authors) through CIA contacts and assets. After all, many who do work for CIA assets and cut-outs never even understand the truth behind their paychecks. But I suspect many of the more outlandish anti-Warren Report books also owe their genesis to CIA assets, it being an effective method of discrediting critics to publish silly or lurid stuff that supposedly represents their views – the precise method used to discredit Jim Garrison’s investigation.
Avoid this book and its sequel or sequels because you will learn nothing worth knowing from it/them.