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The Sabotaging of Truth
on November 19, 2013
Ed Haslam is a talented writer and he easily manages to charm the reader, both with his warm tone and inquiring mind. He also succeeds in presenting a large, complex mosaic of information and in linking it all together in a clear, spellbinding way - much in the manner of a detective story, mystery, or thriller. We're told about some rather unseemly links between the medical community in New Orleans and the same characters who were investigated for their role in JFK's murder: specifically, David Ferrie, who was said to raise caged mice in his apartment, which were part of a series of experiments to develop a cancer weapon that could be unleashed on Cuba as well on its dictator, Fidel Castro. We're also treated to a gripping account about the polio vaccination of the 1950s that contained cancer-causing viruses, which was administered to millions of people in this country and abroad (a history that has also been told in various other books). The work that Haslam has accomplished on David Ferrie, Dr. Mary Sherman (the genius, and leading figure, behind the cancer mutation research who was killed in a highly suspicious manner), and the nefarious Dr. Alton Ochsner (the rabidly rightwing éminence grise behind it all) is superb and has already opened a whole new avenue of exploration for serious JFK assassination experts.
For the most part, especially during the first part of this saga, Haslam successfully distinguishes between reputable JFK researchers, such as Jim DiEugenio, and nonreputable ones, such as Posner. But about three-quarters of the way through, we're suddenly introduced to Judyth Vary Baker, the author of "Me and Lee," and, as several independent and professional reviewers have already noted, at that point the narrative flies completely off the rails. Ms. Baker has created a highly suspect portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald that not only doesn't fit the facts (to cite an example, Judyth's "Oswald" is said to be both a skillful shooter and driver, neither of which is true) but that also further confuses the issue regarding who really killed JFK. Unfortunately, Ed Haslam has bought into this, with the result of subverting his own work. At the very end of "Dr Mary's Monkey," Haslam even theorizes that Bobby Kennedy may have secretly reached out to Oswald while he was still in Russia and convinced him to work as a clandestine off-the-shelf counterspy among the anti-Castro Cubans. The reason for this? Haslam speculates that Oswald, who was obviously in the USSR on a spy mission for the U.S., was somehow forgotten about once the Eisenhower administration was replaced by JFK's men. The problem with this scenario is that, although presidential teams come and go, the CIA leadership (and the CIA team in charge of this "fake defector" project, which included at least eleven other agents who were placed in the USSR, one of whom even dated the same Russian that Oswald would later marry) remained in place during the switchover. Oswald could not simply have been "forgotten" about. So now, we're supposedly left with a spy for Bobby Kennedy who "knew" JFK would be hit (something that has never been proven). And we're also told that, once Oswald was fingered as a patsy, Bobby Kennedy went along with the cover up, due to a fear of embarrassment (since he was supposedly linked to Oswald).
The insertion of such a fable at the very end of this otherwise believable chronicle leads me to have serious misgivings about everything that precedes this finale. Although the author has unearthed some solid documentation to support certain aspects of this story, much of the other "new" information relies on Ed Haslam's own memories and on what he was told by those (such as his father) who are no longer alive or on accounts from others (such as a girlfriend at the time) whose real names are never revealed. About midway through the tale, he himself concludes that he desperately needs a living witness to solidify his case. So, who appears out of the woodwork as the witness who can help turn all this into a solid case? An author whose own book, "Me & Lee - How I came to know, love and lose Lee Harvey Oswald" (now available from the same publisher as "Dr Mary's Monkey"!), reads more like a tawdry potboiler spun out of the ether than as a serious piece of scholarship. Even worse, Judyth Vary Baker's account resonates with the typical sorts of red herrings that the deep political Establishment has always propagated to camouflage the truth concerning Oswald and a renegade CIA that was mismanaged by men such as James Angleton, the protégé of Allen Dulles, who always remained well aware of Oswald's every move.
Once again, we're left to conclude that it was the Kennedys themselves who somehow screwed up and that Oswald was as guilty as any of the shooters who pulled the trigger. Although, time and again, Haslam claims that the purpose of this book is to explore the story of the vaccine that went haywire due to incompetence and ungrounded zeal, and not to get to the bottom of the JFK assassination, the narrative serves to lead us to a sabotaging of the truth about JFK's murder and to an unjust soiling of the Kennedy legacy. I can only hope that, in the future, the author will consider revising his work to provide us with a clearer picture of what really happened in the shadowy labyrinth of the right-wing medical community of New Orleans in the 1950s.