The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
A Formal Debate
Fall 1993 -- Virtual Radio Network
Peter Dale Scott vs. Gerald Posner

RESOLVED: President Kennedy was killed as the result of a conspiracy.

ANNOUNCER: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy: A Formal Debate. The proposal for this debate will be: President Kennedy was killed as the result of a conspiracy.

Taking the "pro" position will be Peter Dale Scott. Peter Dale Scott has called for a new investigation of President Kennedy's assassination. His hypothesis, that United States' Vietnam policy escalated with the assassination, was dramatized by Oliver Stone in the movie "JFK."

Peter Dale Scott has written many books and articles investigating U.S. involvement in Central America and Southeast Asia, including Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America. He is also a poet. He is a former Canadian diplomat and is currently a professor of English at the University of California. Peter Dale Scott's latest book is called Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, published by University of California Press.

Taking the "con" position will be Gerald Posner. Gerald Posner's new book is the best-selling Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK, published by Random House. The book, and Gerald Posner's appearances on "20/20," "Today," and "The ABC Evening News" with Peter Jennings, have dramatically turned the spotlight away from the many assassination theories back onto the "lone assassin theory."

Gerald Posner is a former Wall Street lawyer, and co-author of [unclear]: The Complete Story. He wrote an expose' of the heroin trade, Warlords of Crime: Chinese Secret Societies -- The New Mafia. He has authored a novel and a collection of interviews with children of Nazi officials called, Hitler's Children. Gerald Posner's latest book is Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK.

And now, The Assassination of John F. Kennedy: A Formal Debate; moderated by David Mendelson(sp?).

DAVID MENDELSON: Welcome to Mr. Scott, Mr. Posner, and our listeners across the country. A formal debate was chosen because it best reflects the seriousness of the subject. The two participants are among the most knowledgeable in this field. And their willingness to engage in a formal debate speaks well for them.

Before we begin, however, a brief introduction may be useful for those who are unfamiliar with the work of the authors.

Mr. Scott, speaking for the proposition, examines the "deep politics" of the early 1960s, both internationally and domestically. By "deep politics" he means the links of mutual interest between Hoover and the FBI, organized crime, big business, and the intelligence community that he believes led to McCarthyism, Watergate, Iran-Contra, as well as the JFK assassination.

Mr. Posner, speaking against the proposition, believes that new information he has gained through interviews with Marina Oswald, Dallas policemen and FBI agents at the assassination site, and KGB defector Yuri Nosenko(sp?) and others, as well as studies of new computer and laser enhancements of the Zapruder film, definitively and finally prove that Oswald was the lone assassin.

The format of the debate will be 8 minutes each for opening arguments, 6 minutes each for rebuttal, followed by 2 questions by each participant, and finally, 6 minutes each to close.

We begin the debate with Mr. Scott. You will have 8 minutes to present your case.

PETER DALE SCOTT: I can't really present, in 8 minutes, the case for a conspiracy because it is so huge; it lies in every direction. I've been studying the case for 20 years. And if I've learned anything it is that the more you study, the more you know that you don't know -- but you know things have gone wrong.

We know that Oswald's career was much more than appeared on the surface: both in his defection to the Soviet Union and, more specifically (as I'll get back to later), in his brief flurry of appearances on the media, in New Orleans, in August 1963.

We know that Jack Ruby, presented as a "loner," in fact had very extensive connections with organized crime -- as was revealed in over 1,000 pages of documentation presented by the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

And most disturbing of all, we know that in both the FBI files on Oswald and the very extensive CIA files on Oswald there were extraordinary anomalies in the way they were treating Oswald -- which escalated significantly, and I would say sinisterly, in the 5 weeks preceding the assassination.

So that's a little airy and wide-reaching for our listeners. So I'd like to begin a bit closer to the events in Dallas.

I'm sure Mr. Posner would agree that if there was a conspiracy to kill Oswald in the Dallas Police basement, that it makes no sense at all to argue that Oswald was a "lone nut" trying to kill the President. And I think it's reasonably clear, and the House committee stumbled on this, that there was, in fact (as they suggested in their report), collusion between [Jack] Ruby and the Dallas Police to get into the police basement where he shot Oswald. If you don't believe this, you have to be what I would call a "coincidence theorist." One of the "coincidences" is that, despite the prior warning that Oswald would be killed and the resultant flood of security for Oswald, there was a door into the police basement that was left unlocked. Mr. Posner says, in his book, that it was not clear if it was left locked or not. But I can assure him, it is quite clear, it is not an issue, the Dallas Police have admitted to me personally, that door was left unlocked. And I heard that from the sergeant who was in charge of the security there.

But that's the least of it! Much more sinisterly, there were 2 policemen guarding that door until about 10 minutes before Lee Harvey Oswald was brought down into the basement. Suddenly those 2 policemen -- the policemen guarding the unlocked door, mind you -- the policemen guarding the unlocked door were re- deployed, told to go outside and direct traffic.

Well, if that doesn't suggest a conspiracy, I don't know what would. Mr. Posner wonders how Ruby would have known when Lee Harvey Oswald was brought down into the basement. Well the very easy answer is he would have known when these 2 policemen, who had been guarding the door, emerged out in the street. And that might have been all the signal that he needed.

Now, having been aware for some time of this collusion on the spot between Ruby and the Dallas Police, that leads to the question of "What was Ruby's relation to the Dallas Police?" And we have a number of sources that suggest it was intimate and it was, in a sense, "functional." Note there are 2 narcotics detectives (one of whom is a very major figure in this case) who have both admitted that they used Ruby as an informant on narcotics matters. I'm sure he was a narcotics informant for them.

And if I had time, I would argue he was a narcotics informant on the federal level as well. And this would explain why one of the very few pre-assassination FBI reports on Ruby says that he was the man who gave the O.K. for a major international narcotics deal coming through Dallas from Mexico. And if there's time later on, I will talk about the involvement in narcotics of the Mexican Security Police, who conducted an investigation -- a very, I would say, malevolent investigation -- of the assassination right after it occurred. Mr. Posner says it wasn't like that at all, it was just a friendly relation. His source is a local Assistant District Attorney called Wade Alexander. But Wade Alexander... in his book, Posner admits, is an admitted liar. Alexander tells Posner how he had lied at the time. And much more importantly, Mr. Alexander also told Posner how he had told the press that he was going to indict Oswald as a part of an international communist conspiracy. That, to me, is more important than the fact that he lied. Because the second area of proof of conspiracy are the cables -- I have to say the falsified cables -- that started to pile up in CIA files about Oswald immediately before the assassination -- starting on October the 8th, which is only 5 weeks earlier -- suggesting plausibly (but I would say falsely) that Oswald had met with a KGB agent in Mexico City by the name of Kostakoff(sp?), who was certainly a KGB agent. But much more importantly [Kostakoff] had been identified by the CIA about that time as a specialist in assassinations. Mr. Posner says in his book, "a specialist in sabotage," but it is extremely relevant and absolutely clear in the CIA files that it is consistently "sabotage and assassinations." Worth mentioning.

So you had a situation, when Oswald was identified as the killer: Here was all this apparent evidence in CIA files that he had been plotting with a KGB assassination expert.

And most of our listeners may not know, but the United States went on a red nuclear alert after that assassination. We were facing the risk of a nuclear war. And Earl Warren, in his memoirs, has said that the reason he took the job he did not want of being head of the Warren Commission was because Johnson persuaded him that the rumors that were around presented the risk of nuclear war. If the rumors had just been lying around "in the streets," they would not have presented any risk at all. The problem was that these rumors were being energetically supported and almost forced on the U.S. government by senior U.S. officials at the heart of the government. You could not have done that if Oswald was a "lone nut" pushing books around in the school book depository and nothing more.

And I may say I have just seen a set of the new declassified documents that have been released this year [1993]. And the more we see of this matter, we see how many, literally, tens of people were looking at every single Oswald document in the CIA and were magnifying, rather than diminishing, the idea that he might be part of an international communist plot.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. Scott. Mr. Posner, you have 8 minutes.

GERALD POSNER: What I think Mr. Scott does in his well-written book Deep Politics is commit a sin that many conspiracy theorists do in the Kennedy assassination, which is, they look far beyond what is credible evidence. They go beyond the record. They go into areas of speculation, of trying to find people that may be able to provide linkages in what they think happened in the case as opposed to what actually happened.

And I would say that a review of the credible evidence in this case, the evidence that is both primary documents and eyewitness testimony, shows not only in the life of Lee Harvey Oswald... which is the overlooked part of this case in book after book, because people don't want to look at the life of Oswald. This is a disjointed life of somebody who is a sociopath... has troubles from the earliest days. As a matter of fact, I have half... 300 pages of my book focusses just on Oswald. It's very interesting that, even as a child, you have him pulling a butcher knife and chasing his brother; pulling a knife on his sister-in-law; punching his mother in the face.

A psychiatrist gives us the first professional look at young Lee Harvey Oswald at the age of 13: Bernadis Hartog(?). But I look in Mr. Scott's book, in the index, and I don't find the name Hartog. It's not even listed. Because he [Mr. Scott] doesn't disclose to you that this individual is already somebody whose life is firing out of control even as a youngster.

You go into his marine corps existence (where he thinks he's gonna change his entire life) and he's court-martialed twice. It's a disaster for him. His fellow marines think he's homosexual. They throw him in the shower and they call him "Mrs. Oswald." They call him "Bugs." They abuse him constantly.

Perry Thornby(?), one of his marine colleagues, talks in detail about the fact that he was a committed communist at this point who was considered very eccentric. I look in Mr. Scott's book for Thornby, but I don't find the name. It's not listed there because the testimony that he gives is very, very damaging.

If you go through Oswald's defection to the Soviet Union, there's something that we have today that we didn't have before just a year ago, which is information, now, from the KGB files. The largest single archive on Oswald that's existed in the world. It provides not only surveillance on Oswald for nearly a two year period... Although they thought he was crazy, they said, "Ah! He looks crazy, but maybe he's an American 'sleeper agent'." And while they follow him for two years, in terms of the electronic surveillance, video surveillance, having agents go and talk to him, planting informants around him at work and in his personal life -- what do they come to the conclusion of? Not what Mr. Scott would have you believe, that Lee Harvey Oswald was, in fact, part of American intelligence; but that, in fact, he is the eccentric sociopath he appeared to be when he first defected to the Soviet Union in 1959.

At one point, his radio breaks. And he's getting Voice of America (it's not being jammed at the time). And he attempts to fix it. He can't. And a friend comes in and fixes a plate in the back and adjusts it. It literally doesn't take anything more than moving the screw. The radio's working. And the KGB agents go out (this is in the file). They laugh hysterically about this because it indicates that Oswald didn't even have what I call "Spy 101." He didn't know the basics of radio communications.

And by the time he returns to the United States with Marina, in a very abusive relationship where he's beating her so badly that by the end of 1962 she attempts suicide. And he catches her fumbling with the rope and he pummels her again.

He [Oswald] has, by the beginning of 1963 (when he orders both a rifle and a pistol), settled in his own form of leftist politics combined with a heavy dose of anarchism. He's writing in his own book, in his own handwriting, he ruminates about what it might be like if, in fact, all of society was ripped down and we could start from scratch -- start without having any of the structure of society around. He settles on political assassination as his focus. This is his goal.

The goal, the target that he picks, is General Edwin Walker, a retired army general in Dallas who has been removed by President Kennedy for his right-wing activities in NATO. So I go to Mr. Scott's book and I look for General Walker. And I find him mentioned a couple of times. But I never find out that, in fact, Lee Harvey Oswald in April of '63 had attempted to shoot General Walker and that the only reason the assassination failed is because a bullet deflected on a window frame and just missed Walker's head. You'd never know by reading Deep Politics that, in fact, Marina [Oswald's wife] recounts in great detail the fact that Lee had left a note for her that said, "If I'm arrested or I'm in jail, it's the jail across the river. You know where it is. Contact the Soviet embassy if there's any problems."

That he [Oswald] came home in great excitement and thought that he'd killed Walker. That it was Marina who then had him moved to New Orleans because of her fear that he would continue to stalk Walker.

And it is in New Orleans where Oswald, attempting to start the "Fair Play for Cuba" committee, passes out thousands of leaflets and fails to get a single convert to his new cause.

Although he has a picture over his sofa of Fidel Castro, although he argues with Marina about naming his second child "Fidel," although he practices (something else you won't find in Deep Politics) the thought of hijacking a plane to Cuba -- truly in a revolutionary manner, by running around the apartment and trying to strengthen his legs. Marina eventually saying to their daughter [unclear], "I think our papa's out of his mind."

And instead, he abandons his hijacking plans, goes down to Cuba -- to the embassy -- (And I'll mention this in just a second.) He's rejected when he finally goes down to the Cuban embassy. He lay's out his entire life's work (he's a Marxist) and says, "Here I am. Please accept me." And the Cubans say, in so many words, "Get lost."

And he goes over to the Soviet embassy -- and this is very important. Mr. Scott, in his opening remarks, talks about Kostakoff, a KGB agent who was responsible for assassinations in the western hemisphere. That wasn't the only agent that Oswald met with. As a matter of fact, he met with Kostakoff, [unclear] Nechaburenko(?), and Yatskoff(?), 3 KGB agents. They thought he could be working for Russian intelligence -- he showed up, he spoke somewhat rudimentary Russian, he said he had lived there for 2-and-a-half years, he had a Russian wife. They cabled the KGB in Moscow. (It's in the KGB files.) Guess what the KGB in Moscow said? "Give that nut a turnaway." (a diplomatic turnaway) "Send him away. We don't want anything to do with him."

One of the individuals, Nechaburenko, has written a book (it's currently out) together with the help of Katskoff and Yatskoff, that... they have used their documents from 1963. Oswald actually was considered by them unstable. They knew he was irrational. He pulled out a pistol and started to wave it around inside the Soviet embassy, saying that the FBI was trying to kill him. This is the man who returns in October of 1963, with his life spiraling out of control.

Now there's something very important on this. We can talk later about whether, in fact, there was collusion at the Dallas jail when Jack Ruby came in. There absolutely was not. If you ever have a case of happenstance... If Lee Harvey Oswald had not changed his sweater -- requested to change his sweater -- so that the television cameras would see him in a different set of clothes, he would have left 10 minutes before Jack Ruby (who was down the block) had even left the Western Union office.

But more importantly is that there's a fundamental difference here tonight between my view of the assassination (which is really found in Lee Harvey Oswald's life) and the view that Mr. Scott has (which is a larger view of American politics in general). I, I look in his own book and in the end, the number of people that he says are involved in the Kennedy assassination. I will just briefly give you: He not only has Trujillo -- and this is according to page 221-222 -- Hoffa's teamsters, the Somoza, Nicaragua, the Texas rich, the CIA, Castro, Nixon, the Mob. We have Mexican security police, Nicaragua, the United Fruit Company, Standard Fruit Company... Democratic party represented by Lyndon Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover. In part of the cover-up we have Edward Bennett Williams, Thomas Corcoran, James Rowe, Eugene Wyman, Morris Shenker, Dean Acheson, Clark Clifford, Fred Black, Robert Thompson and Thomas Webb. We also have (it's very interesting) the Secret Service and the FBI -- again he goes back to Hoover -- but he says that "this does not mean that the killers themselves are necessarily to be found in this specific coalition because I haven't mentioned yet the anti-Castro Cubans or the defense contractors."

In the end, the real title of Mr. Scott's book should be "Who Didn't Kill JFK." In this vast conspiracy of a secret government of thousands of conspirators, I do not think it would have survived for 30 days, much less for 30 years.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. Posner. Mr. Scott, you have 6 minutes for rebuttal.

PETER DALE SCOTT: Our audience has just heard the kind of people that Mr. Posner believes in: The KGB and (I'll come back to this later) Marina Oswald.

Marina Oswald, for whom, by the way, I have great compassion at that time, was being so obviously coerced by the very people who were interviewing her at that time, that she changed her stories repeatedly at that time. It was quite obvious she was trying to tell what the government wanted her to tell in order to avoid being deported. The Warren Commission knew this, and wrote a memo in February of 1964 saying, "Marina has repeatedly lied on matters of serious concern to this commission." And it's very revealing, I think, that when they knew this in February, when they came to write their report in June and July, they had such trouble linking Oswald to the gun and to the act of shooting anyone -- let alone General Walker -- that they had to rely on the testimony of a liar. And uh so, unfortunately, does Mr. Posner.

Mr. Posner believes in the KGB. Let me tell you, the readers, that he believes even more in the CIA. And, in fact, [he] tells us that he got certain things from the CIA. He says, for example, Mr. George De Mohrenschildt (a friend of Oswald's with obvious intelligence background -- although he had other aspects to his background as well), he says, "had no intelligence connection to the CIA." How do we know? Mr. Posner says, "Because the CIA has told us so."

But if Mr. Posner would do what I do, which is to look at the documents, he would see that despite what he [De Mohrenschildt] told people, when he left Dallas in '63, he went to Washington. He took part in a meeting with CIA agents and more importantly, Army Intelligence agents, before going to Haiti as a business... whatever it was... but certainly about Haiti. Since then, a CIA contract agent has said it was about the overthrow of the government in Haiti. And this is the sort of thing you won't find in Mr. Posner's book.

I object very much to that long quote from my book, which was about how many enemies Kennedy had in 1963. I certainly did not say that they all killed the President. I said on the contrary that... You know, so many people think that I'm saying the President was killed because of his Vietnam policy. And I was trying, on the contrary, to "open it out," to say that there were many coalitions that were angry with Kennedy in 1963 -- the joint chiefs and the military being an important one. But organized crime, the teamsters, (and you've heard the list) also... But I'm certainly not saying that they all killed the President. I'm saying don't misread me to think that I have named the killers. And I said, in fact, at the beginning of the book, Mr. Posner (if you'd started on page 1), that I do not in this book try to say who the killers are!

So now, finally, General Walker... I have written about General Walker in all of my preceding books. And the bullets that you and I have both talked about -- which were too mangled to be identified in April when it was shot at General Walker, but somehow has become identifiable in November of 1963 and was identified as having been shot from Lee Harvey Oswald's Mannlicher-Carcano [Italian rifle]. You didn't mention, Mr. Posner, that (I hope I get this the right way around), that in April it had been identified as copper-jacketed but by the time it was November it was now steel-jacketed. So that that bullet is just one example of the kind of things that "happened" to evidence that were kept in the hands of the Dallas police or later, in the FBI, and which are, for me, a major part of the case that this was a conspiracy involving people both outside the government shooting the President, and also people inside the government guaranteeing an absolutely sure-fire case. That the truth would be so explosive and the "phase 1" stories, as I call them, of communist conspiracy would be so threatening for an unnecessary war, that all kinds of people would be coerced to accept what I call the "phase 2" story -- that Oswald acted alone. A story equally false, but not as likely to lead to the death, unnecessary death, of thousands of lives.

So, it is true that you focus on the life of Oswald. I believe if you were to write a book about the murder of Trotsky, you would probably write a whole book about the character and the personality defects of the gunman who killed Trotsky! But surely it's important to go back from the case and look at the links between that gunman and Stalin back in Moscow.

And I'm not, I think by nature, someone who begins with a conspiracy theory. But having looked for so long at the Kennedy assassination -- and particularly at the anomalies in the relationship between Oswald and the FBI, between Ruby and the Dallas police, and then the concerted effort to say that these people were "loners" when if we know anything, that's exactly what they weren't. That we absolutely are forced to look beyond the personality of Oswald in this case, and try to fit together... And it's more than a conspiracy. It isn't a lot of people who could have been identified, it's a...

[Moderator interrupts and tells Mr. Scott that his 6 minutes have expired.]

MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. Scott. Mr. Posner, you have 6 minutes for your rebuttal.

GERALD POSNER: The... Some of the points that Mr. Scott mentions I think are absolutely critical because it's [a] fundamental difference between the two of us. And it deals, again, with the evidence and an analysis of what is the credible evidence.

In the instance of the Walker shooting: Did Lee Harvey Oswald in fact shoot Edwin Walker? Which to me is a key point because nobody has ever satisfactorily explained to me why the CIA or the mafia or the KGB or the anti-Castro Cubans wanted Walker dead. But here's Oswald shooting at Walker in April of '63.

Mr. Scott says a moment ago (It's in April), the bullet is described as fully copper-jacketed. That's correct. That's the ammunition that Oswald used, is copper-jacketed bullets. Matter of fact, we have something better than just what was described by the Dallas police: there's the bullet. You can go to the National Archives. You can examine it. I've been down to the National Archives. It is a copper-jacketed bullet.

But more importantly, I'm willing, with Mr. Scott, to throw out all the testimony from 1963. That bullet is too mangled to determine ballistically if it matches Oswald's rifle. But science intervened. In 1978, Dr. Vincent Guinn, the nation's leading expert in neutron activation, a scientific test which compares the base element of metals, came in for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, took the mangled bullet and did neutron activation tests. Now he could have proven that that bullet had nothing to do with the ammunition that Oswald used later in the Kennedy assassination. But guess what? Lo and behold, it turns out that that bullet comes from the same batch of Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5 mm shells, made by the Western Cartridge Company, used in the Kennedy assassination. So there's no question anymore where the bullet comes from. It's very interesting. The questions could have existed in '63, but they've been solved by science since.

One thing that we do agree on. Mr. Scott says, "Look at Oswald's links." I think that's key. I don't just give a biography of Lee Harvey Oswald. What am I doing through the entire time? I'm looking to see if, in fact, there's a trail of money, if there are telephone calls, if there are acquaintances. And what's the key period? The key period is October and November of 1963. Oswald has just returned from being rejected by the Cubans. His life is literally spinning out of control. His wife is separated from him. He can't hold a job. Um, he's been turned down by the Cubans. He's been turned down by the Soviet Union. And the FBI's harassing him. He's a time bomb ready to explode. On September 26, when he was on the bus on the way down to Mexico, the White House announced that Jack Kennedy was visiting Dallas. Everything that happened in Lee Harvey Oswald's life before September 26th took place before anybody knew that Kennedy was coming to Dallas in November.

So the key period is what happens in October and November of '63. Where's the conspiratorial contact between Oswald and the plotters at that point? And this is key: He's not living on his own. We know what he's doing. He's staying in a rooming house at 1026 North Beckley and he has a whole host of rooming house members and partners there with him; other people in the house, including a housekeeper. And what do they say he did? Every night he's home by 5 or 6 o'clock and he never left a single night -- except on Fridays when he would disappear for the weekend. Sounds interesting, until you find out he was in Irving, Texas, visiting his wife, Marina.

He never received a single telephone call, except for one, the weekend before the assassination. Check the telephone records. It comes from... it comes from his wife's house. He made a telephone call, one a day, in a foreign language. That turns out to be to his wife, Marina. He never received a single visitor. Where's the opportunity for the conspiratorial contact at a time that the plotters supposedly know that Kennedy's coming to Dallas. It doesn't exist.

What happens is, what Mr. Scott does (and other conspiracy theorists) is they have very good evidence to show you that people hated Jack Kennedy. I agree with that and that there may even have been a plot brewing. I wouldn't be surprised if Marcello and Trafficante sat around the table and said, "Let's kill that no-good President." What I'm saying in my book, the challenge that I'm essentially making to conspiracy theorists, is to show me the credible evidence that brings Lee Harvey Oswald into the plotters. That's what doesn't exist. If there was a plot to kill Jack Kennedy and it was afoot in '62, it didn't involve Oswald. And that's the key point. At the critical junction when Oswald would have had to be part of it, he's just not.

And when you look at Jack Ruby (and I think this is very important), Mr. Scott talks about the fact that Jack Ruby knew a lot of police, and he knew a whole host of gangsters, and he was "dirty" "up to his eyeballs." Guess what? I agree with most of that. There's no doubt about that. It just has nothing to do with why he killed [...tape runs out...]

[...tape continues...] Oswald. And that's the point. People take one existence of facts about Ruby's connections and they say, "Therefore, he killed Oswald and they must be related." And that's where the story falls down.

Two final points: In terms of Mr. Scott's view of this case, he also says in his book something I fundamentally have to disagree with: that McCarthyism and the assassination in Dallas and Watergate and Contra-gate are all connected, with some of the same people involved. He says he doesn't have a conspiratorial view of the world, but I have to disagree.

And I think that what's important in this: he has a very unusual way of proving some of the elements that he makes in his case -- sort of linking people up by who knew who, by who knew who -- but also something he calls the "negative template," which is, if you look at a piece of paper that has lists of names, and one of the names you think should be there is not actually there, that indicates maybe it had been removed as part of a cover-up or conspiracy. The "negative template" means, in my view, that you can prove anything you wanted to. If I was looking for a piece of paper that said Oswald had been employed by the CIA and I took a CIA document and Oswald's name wasn't there, it must mean that they had removed his name because, in fact, he'd been an agent. The "negative template" does not, in fact, prove what he says.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. Posner.

ANNOUNCER: You're listening to "The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, A Formal Debate," from the Virtual Radio Network. The proposal is that President Kennedy was killed as the result of a conspiracy. Taking the "pro" position is Peter Dale Scott, author of Deep Politics and the Death of JFK. Taking the "con" position is Gerald Posner, author of Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK. Your moderator is David Mendelson.

MODERATOR: You are listening to "The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, A Formal Debate," with Gerald Posner and Peter Dale Scott.

Each of you will now ask alternating questions of the other participant. Mr. Scott, you have one minute to ask a question.

PETER DALE SCOTT: Mr. Posner has dug out of Warren Commission archives an Oswald chronology that is in part faked, and at times faked by Oswald himself. In August, 1963, there was a raid on an arms cache on Lake Pontchartrain. Now Mr. Posner says that news stories talked about an armed training camp, but it's important that this was never mentioned in the news stories. And yet, Oswald went to a man called Carlos Bringuier of the DRE [Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil(?)] -- it had been a DRE training camp whose arms cache was raided. But there was nothing about this in the press. And Oswald asked... offered to be a trainer. Bringuier said, "He [Oswald] must have been an agent, because no one else knew." And not only that, Oswald asked about organized crime, about La Cosa Nostra. It took us 12 years for the rest of us to find that they were involved.

How did Oswald know these things?

MODERATOR: Mr. Posner, you have 2 minutes to respond.

GERALD POSNER: I'm surprised at that, Mr. Scott. Because, in fact, there had been extensive newspaper coverage (as you know) of the raid across the river. [Mr. Scott says something, off microphone. Inaudible.] Absolutely. There had been extensive coverage in the Times-Picayune.

And... very important point: Although I'm not here to defend Carlos Bringuier, one of the things that you do have in your book (as I'm sure you have issues with statements that I've made)... In your book you have him [Bringuier] as a member of the DRE, this anti-Castro group. I just spoke to Bringuier again the other night on this very issue. It's absolutely not true that he was a member of the DRE. And he takes great offense at that, because he was not. It's stated in the book a number of times that he is. But that is not the organization that he was associated with.

And Oswald, at the time that he went in to see Carlos Bringuier, in August of '63, in Dallas, was playing what I call, "the poor man's intelligence agent." What does Marina tell us? (Although I know you don't like to hear Marina, because you say she's a liar.) She tells us, in fact, that even at the time he was in the Soviet Union he said, "I'd love the life of a spy." The Russians, the White Russians [anti-communist] who were near him in Dallas, remember a book that said, "How To Be a Spy." He was, as Warren DeBrueys tells me (one of the FBI agents in New Orleans), somebody he had seen many times, who had this tendency to want to be, as he said, "a poor man's intelligence..." He thought he was intervening in actually being able to get inside his great foes at this time, the anti-Castro Cubans. His love of Castro was running high. He was committed to the cause. And by getting inside Bringuier's group he would enhance his credentials when eventually he wanted to go to Cuba. By August of '63, Oswald was committed to going to Cuba because it had been, for him, the "new nirvana." The Soviet Union was [his dream] when he was 19. And he left in '59 to find happiness. And the Russians told him, "Leave," before he killed himself -- something else, of course, I didn't see in the book [Scott's book] -- but when he tried to slash his wrists.

He now is ready to go to Cuba to find happiness. But the difference is that he doesn't. He's not able to get into Bringuier's group; he's arrested a few days later. It's all on the record. And I must tell you that it's very clearly on the record. So that I find very little question about what happened in the summer of '63.

MODERATOR: Mr. Posner, you now have one minute to ask Mr. Scott a question.

POSNER: The... Uh, in Mr. Scott's book, it seems to me that the "deep politics" that he talks about, what in essence is (and he'll correct me if I'm using not the right terminology)... but what I view as almost the second government. This secret government that essentially runs, with a combination of government officials and intelligence organizations and drug traffickers and a host of others, um, is almost so powerful that it's able to do things like the Kennedy assassination and maintain it as a massive cover-up -- no matter how many people are involved.

Uh, you say it's not conspiratorially minded, you aren't, when you approach these subjects. But what I wonder is, is there any assassination, or attempted assassination, that you think was really done by a lone assassin, in recent American history? Uh, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, George Wallace, Huey Long... Would those all be conspiracies, in your view, or were any of those lone assassins?

MODERATOR: Mr. Scott, you have 2 minutes to respond.

SCOTT: Well very quickly, let me say that I haven't studied those other assassinations as much as this one. My mind is open to it, on the basis of what I have learned. But I really haven't any idea.

Uh, I'd like to clarify... because you didn't quite get what I meant by "deep politics." I actually had a section in which I said, "No. It is not the same as 'invisible government' or 'secret team.'" It is the constant, everyday interaction between the constitutionally elected government and forces of violence, forces of crime, which appear to be the enemies of that government. But in fact, on a workaday basis -- whether it's City Hall in a city, or the CIA and the Mafia plotting against Castro -- are, in fact, part of the governance of this society.

And I agree that an external conspiracy, whether it was Cubans or Nazis or even organized crime itself, could never have killed the President and gotten away with it.

But we have ongoing, working relationships between, for example, organized crime and the police in Chicago. Which meant in a 30- year period there was not a single organized crime murder [that] was solved in that city. And I'm saying that this sort of thing, which people know about and really accept, locally, should be seen as part of the way in which our country works: that our country uses violence, and the forces in power use violence. And although it is a very rare event for people inside the bureaucracy to use violence against their own president, that is what I do believe happened in 1963. And the reason that it was -- they got away with it -- is that they have shared so many other crimes that they got away, with part of the ongoing system.

MODERATOR: Mr. Scott, I have to caution you to try and use your time better. But, you have one minute to ask Mr. Posner a question.

PETER DALE SCOTT: Um... there was... When Oswald went into the Soviet embassy in Mexico City, a tape was made of the conversation. The CIA has lied and lied and lied and lied about that tape. They said it was destroyed -- 2 weeks later, it wasn't. Then they said it was destroyed right after the assassination. But Mr. Slossen(?) of the Warren Commission staff... And Mr. Posner believes in the Warren Commission; he'd better believe Mr. Slossen when he says he heard the tape in April of 1964. Members of [Winston] Scott's fam... and the chief of station have said that [Winston] Scott and his wife listened to the tape later. James Angleton came down to Mexico City in 1971 [and] took the tape away.

Now on that tape, the man identified himself as Lee Oswald. And yet, as you say, he was not Oswald. How do you explain this?

MODERATOR: You have 2 minutes.

GERALD POSNER: Ah. But there's, there's a key difference. Uh, Slossen says he hears a tape. And [Winston] Scott talks about it later. But nobody says -- and this is absolutely key -- there's not a transcript of it. The man identifies himself as Lee Oswald. Years later, people say that.

Here's what's important: The CIA... and I'm not here to defend the CIA. I must tell you. One of the things, one of the things that Mr. Scott does and others who have criticized the book do, they say, "Ah. Posner believes everything the CIA does. And since he supports the Warren Commission's conclusion, he must agree with that." Absolutely false. I take the CIA at issue for a whole host of things, including the fact that they distorted evidence and lied to the Warren Commission, and they were trying to kill Fidel Castro and they didn't disclose it. And I take them to task for all the bungling efforts that they do in Mexico City.

But. Very importantly (and you know this): They had a picture of a man in Mexico City that was the wrong person. They thought they had identified Lee Harvey Oswald. He was about 35 years old, 10 years older than Oswald, husky. He's much taller. It's not Oswald. It led to 20 years of speculation, almost, [that] there was an "imposter Oswald" in Mexico City. That issue has been dropped recently, now that the Soviets have come out and said, "Guess what? The Oswald we met with in our embassy is the same person who was, in fact, in Dallas and arrested in November of '63." What it says, the very real possibility that I raised in the book, which is that the CIA had not only identified the wrong person as Oswald (because they didn't have a picture of him), but they were also having surveillance recording the wrong Oswald, the very same person who was inside the embassy. And that remains a real possibility to this day.

But. I agree with you that one of the last great areas of real interest here -- when new information has to come out -- is all the shenanigans in Mexico City. And when I say "shenanigans," what I'm talking about is not a plot to kill the President -- that's key -- but the CIA's and the KGB's desperate efforts to cover up their own sources of information: their informants, the contacts inside the Mexican embassy, whether they had double- agents inside the Cuban embassy, how they obtained video surveillance at the time, and this overwhelming desire of the intelligence agencies to protect... That type of history is what exactly leads to the type of speculation you have in this case, that you have sort of looked at and then said, "I see a conspiracy of murder."

MODERATOR: Mr. Posner, you have one minute to ask a question.

POSNER: O.K. And in my minute I'm just gonna take 30 seconds, the first 30, to say, Mr. Scott, that he didn't make a conclusion on the other assassinations. But in his own book he says, on page 97, "Behind the deep politics of the Kennedy assassination lie those of the [Huey] Long assassination." And on page 307 he talks about the comparisons between Sirhan Sirhan and Lee Harvey Oswald. So for somebody who hasn't made up his mind, he has some very interesting statements in the book.

But Mr. Scott, what I really would wonder is (since I don't see it discussed in this book and I know you have discussed it before): Why do you feel, if Oswald shot at General Walker in April of '63, (a) you believe the evidence that he shot at Walker, and (b) why would he have shot at Walker? And the second part of the question is, Do you believe the evidence that Oswald shot a Dallas policeman, J.D. Tippit, after the assassination? And if so, why do you believe he killed Tippit?

MODERATOR: Mr. Scott, 2 minutes.

SCOTT: ...General Walker, who... Somebody shot at General Walker. Eyewitnesses said it was *2* people. And if it was 2 people, then Oswald -- if it was Oswald -- then Oswald was not a "loner."

Whoever shot at General Walker, from about 15 feet away, did not shoot to kill him. I think they shot to help make him more of a martyr than he already was. The bullet in question, I will remind you, it changed jacket. It may have been copper-jacketed in November, but the bullet was originally identified, then, as being steel-jacketed. And I do believe that the bullets were changed, because I think it is not hard at all to find other cases of the falsification of evidence in that and other matters.

Now the killing of Tippit: Um, again, I believe there's falsification. The bullet thing is difficult to go into, but I think they rather botched the planting of bullets at the scene. Um, you believe the eyewitnesses like Helen Markum(?) and Warren Reynolds. Let me just say, Warren Reynolds was asked if he could recognize Oswald. He said that he was unable to do so. And then somebody shot him through the head. And then the Warren Commission had the gall to ask him again. And he said, "Oh yes! I remember now. It was Lee Harvey Oswald."

Well if you're going to rely on witnesses that have been coerced in that way, I think you're prepared to grasp at almost any straw in really conceding that there was no case.

MODERATOR: You will now each have 6 minutes to close. Mr. Scott, you have 6 minutes.

PETER DALE SCOTT: The Warren Commission, and again, now, Mr. Posner, tell us that Ruby and Oswald each were people who acted alone. What I've learned in my years is that each of these two individuals take us to very important institutional secrets that are part of what I call the "deep politics" of this country.

To start with Jack Ruby: He came out of Chicago, in the 24th ward of Jake Arvey, which was a signal point of corruption in the Democratic party in Chicago and in the nation. A man called James Ragen was killed in 1946. Oswald {1} knew the two assassins intimately. One of them was used by the Chicago FBI to make the case that Oswald {2} is not mob connected. They said that this man Dave Yaras... They sent this memo out and it was sent on to the Warren Commission: "Dave Yaras says that Oswald was not mob connected." They granted that Dave Yaras knew Oswald, but [what] they didn't say was that Dave Yaras was a top syndicate killer and that the killing of Ragen in 1946 (which he was guilty of) was one which [J. Edgar] Hoover was personally involved in. And we have it from one of Mr. Posner's own sources in the FBI that it was Hoover himself who dropped the investigation when Mr. Ragen was investigated. I have a [unclear] of that case, because it is a signal event in the evolution of organized crime in this country.

Lee Harvey Oswald, in 1963, was involved with the most conspiratorial Cuban anti-Castro group (such as Alpha-66), whose main target by then was not so much Castro as Kennedy. Their... most of their raids were against Soviet ships in order to embarrass Kennedy's policy of detente with Kruschev. And the kind of story that Mr. Posner will not tell you is that a Dallas sheriff had said that Oswald had been seen with anti-Castro Cubans at a Harlandale(?) address in Texas which -- in Dallas -- which he says nothing more about, but which the FBI files show us was the Dallas headquarters of the Alpha-66 in Dallas and that they had been buying guns. And at least one of their milieu was an Oswald look-alike.

It is a symptom that the investigation was mishandled; that this rather significant lead which corroborates the leads in New Orleans of Oswald and anti-Castro Cubans, all of whom were arms trafficking. That is probably the key to why Oswald himself ordered guns. Because I believe that he was working part of the government's campaign against arms sales.

Now you tell me, Mr. Posner, that Bringuier denies his DRE connections. Mr. Bringuier has also denied his connections to the Cuban Revolutionary Council [CRC]. (And I can't remember if that's in your book, but it's certainly in the Warren Commission.) And yet I found a Cuban "Who's Who" of Cuban exiles, and it's listed in Mr. Bringuier's biography, in print, that he was the propaganda secretary for the CRC -- as I report in my book. (And I hope you have a refutation of it.)

If we had more time, I would respond to what you said about my book. But yes, all of these things are part of the deep politics. But they could also have been lone assassins. You're drawing conclusions that cannot be drawn.

What I have been trying to say and say is that the more we look into the, this case, pressure has forced the FBI to "cough up" files. The... forced just recently, the CIA to force up files. And the more documents we get, the less and less and less Oswald looks like a loner. If he was a loner, why did every single junky FBI report on him go over to CIA and get read in at least 10 sections of the CIA? Why are there references that are still blacked out? Why are so many of the crucial documents suppressed?

We have a record here which we have to get to the bottom of. And, uh, I am open-minded about this. I don't quite know how you prove someone is a loner after you have already established that there's such intense and continuous government interest in him -- including documents we've been denied which are only one and two days before the assassination.

But I can tell you one thing: When the CIA called him Lee Henry Oswald it wasn't from a clumsy accident, as you suggest. Because they had been doing it consistently for 3 years in a file which had been... treated him as a secret case, when other defectors were treated as unclassified ones. He was a very special "defector" among those defectors. And the CIA falsified not only his name [but] the name of his wife, the name of the city in which he was born. The conclusion is unmistakable that he was part of some kind of operation that was being kept secret even in CIA files. And if you're going to prove me wrong, Mr. Posner, you're going to have to join with me in getting the rest of the files declassified.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. Scott. Mr. Posner, you have 6 minutes.

GERALD POSNER: The last statement Mr. Scott makes is one that, uh, one of the few things tonight that we can agree on and agree on wholeheartedly, which is, getting the files.

I happen to think that one of the things that's happened in this case is the government is its own worst enemy. They're holding onto material for 30 years, in instances, because there is a cover-up in the Kennedy assassination. I say this in so many words in my book. There's a cover-up of the government incompetence that took place in both the FBI and the CIA. There's a covering of behinds, in essence, of these bureaucrats who are running for cover. And the FBI, because they were so petrified that J. Edgar Hoover would be coming down to Dallas and saying, "What? You had an open file on Lee Harvey Oswald? You were interrogating his wife and you didn't know he was a 'lone nut' capable of killing the President?" And of course, Hoover did censure 17 agents and discipline them for that very thing that the agents feared. They destroyed evidence. They lied about what happened. And that's what, largely, those files are gonna show. They will show the extent of that cover-up. The difference is in the interpretation that we have as to whether, in fact, it was the cover-up of a murder (which I don't view it as that), or what I typically view in this case, from the... my alma mater where you are now a professor, at Berkeley, from my work in the early '70s as a political scientist, that, in fact, government is primarily inefficient and bungling. And this is exactly what you expect in a case of this magnitude, where people do run.

The... some of the things that are mentioned... I think it comes down again to this very, very fundamental look at "What is the evidence?" And I think that Mr. Scott says 2 things in his last 6 minutes segment that really shows you the basis of what happens in conspiracy theory. If there isn't an answer for it, what you do is you speculate and say, "Here's what might have happened." And this is what Oliver Stone does very effectively in his film, "JFK."

On the Walker shooting, Mr. Scott says, "Well I think that the bullet was swapped. It's not the same bullet that existed in '63." The problem is that there's no evidence that it was swapped. So his point is, what might have been swapped. We can't prove that it wasn't. And of course, you can never prove that... the negative, that the bullet wasn't swapped. But what I ask for always, as an investigator, as an attorney, is -- just show me a piece of credible evidence to indicate that that happened. And that's what, what he can't produce.

He talks about the Tippit shooting. And he says that he thinks that the police actually botched the planting of the bullets at the scene. But again: it's strictly speculation. There isn't any evidence. There's no testimony. There's nothing to indicate that in fact the police had planted the bullets at the scene. And this is where we go from hard evidence off to what I call speculation. The Tippit case is a perfect example.

And I must tell you that, as an attorney, it's one of the most "open and shut" cases I've ever seen. Thirteen eyewitnesses -- not just the two that he wants to talk about with Helen Markum(?) and Warren Reynolds (and each of those I could respond to) -- thirteen eyewitnesses see Oswald either do the shooting [of Tippit] or escaping from the scene. Six people pick him out of a lineup that night. He's discovered a few blocks away, with the pistol. It is tied ballistically into the murder of Tippit, to the exclusion of any other gun in the world. How he ends up in that theater, with the pistol that just killed Tippit, where 13 people just saw him running away, is hard for me to imagine. Is it an imposter Oswald? Has somebody coerced all 13 people? Did they put the pistol on him and he didn't know it? You know, the answer is, in fact (although I see Mr. Scott nodding "yes"), it's too much to imagine. He, in fact, did kill J.D. Tippit. He, in fact, did shoot at General Walker. And he was the only person in Dallas, November 22nd, 1963, on the 6th floor, in the southeast corner of the Texas school book depository -- not only with the motive to kill Jack Kennedy (to place himself in the history books; to throw this "monkey wrench" into the system) but with the capability of doing it. With his own rifle which was found up there. That he used to sit on a porch, according to Marina, and for hours at a time practice "dry runs," what experts call "dry runs." Operating the bolt action so that he was proficient with it. And with the capability. In the marines, having been both a sharpshooter and a marksman. Meaning that he was capable of hitting a 10-inch target at a distance of 200 yards, 8 times out of 10, without the benefit of a telescopic sight.

And in Dallas, the assassination targets are less than half of that distance. His longest shot is some 90 yards, and he has the benefit of a 4-power scope. It becomes for Oswald an easy sequence of shots. And even then, only one of them actually does the trick and ends up killing Kennedy.

The... One of the very important points, I think, in this, is when we come down to the question of association with these individuals, uh, I believe that as the American people have a right to demand, after 30 years of looking at this case, we have a right to demand of anybody, "What's your evidence to support your conclusions?" I lay out a scenario of what I think happened in the assassination. I presented the evidence: some 80 pages of source notes, the evidence that I rely on. What I think we have to ask conspiracy theorists in this case -- whether they have Mr. Scott's view or whether they have a different view of what happened -- is, "What do you rely on?" "What's your proof?" "What's your documentation?" This case has been examined more extensively, by more researchers, than any other case I know of. And after 30 years of thousands of people looking at the evidence and talking to witnesses, we still don't have an iota of credible evidence to show us, in fact, there was a conspiracy to kill Jack Kennedy. I say that it's time to "close the book" on this case in the sense that we still have more historical work to do, but we can come to the overall conclusion that, in Dallas, as we approach the 30th anniversary of this death, the man responsible for it was one man, alone: Lee Harvey Oswald.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. Posner.

Mr. Scott, Mr. Posner, on behalf of our listeners across the country, thank you very much.

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---------------------------<< Notes >>-------------------------- {1} Mr. Scott says "Oswald" here. He may mean "Ruby". Due to pressure of allowed time, Mr. Scott may have inadvertantly mixed the names.
{2} Again (see note #1, above), Mr. Scott says Oswald, but may have meant to say "Ruby."

Brian Francis Redman "The Big C"

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