Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Review -- Hit List by Richard Belzer & David Wayne


for some truths

Great Summation of Research -- Improved Easy-to-Follow Format
This book is a follow-up and intensification of the topics from the authors’ 2012 Dead Wrong.  Whereas that book’s usefulness and readability was hampered by tables, sidelights, and charts that interfered with the nonfiction narrative and actually made the book harder to figure out, this volume is a model of conjectural word-flow.
The book is a brief examination of the deaths of fifty people who were witness either to the JFK assassination or to parts of its surrounding events and cover-up.  Some deaths are open homicides, some are accidents whose timing seems odd, and some are supposed suicides that are a little hard to believe (a guy wrapped himself with fishing weights and jumped from a boat, shooting himself in the head in midair before hitting the water?).
The point is, the idea of so many people with knowledge about the JFK hit and its aftermath all dying (most by questionable causes) is mathematically and actuarially unlikely.  Of course, everybody dies!  But these folks meeting the Grim Reaper in such a high percentage when compared to any other Joe Schmoe is highly suspicious.  Many died just before being compelled to give testimony to congress or in other legal proceedings.
The deaths whose timings kick up as suspicious but who still seem coincidental to the JFK assassination are listed that way.  Not all of these fifty deaths appear related to the crime or cover-up, but their timing kicked them onto the list of possibles.
Possible WHATs, you ask.  Say it:  Many people appear to have been killed because they knew that JFK’s death was not a lone-nut crime.  There were US intelligence elements, and organized crime elements, and individuals related to the sub rosa struggle against Cuba’s government.  While I don’t go so far as to agree that LBJ was a willing foreplanner, he certainly knew some folks with their fingers in this horrific pie.
Let me cite the few mistakes and quibbles I have with the book.
Page xiii, the first page of text, opens the book with a heading quotation from Jim Marrs’ 1989 book Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy.  Then the authors write, “Thus began the promotion of the 1973 film Executive Action ….”  No, the producers of a 1973 film DID NOT quote a book from 1989 that was still at least 15 years into the future.
On pages 155 and 157, the authors misspell the name of one of the FBI agents present at the JFK autopsy.  The agent’s last name is given as O’Neal, when the correct spelling is O’Neill.
Twice in the bottom paragraph on page 224, the word “rogue” (as in a rogue or runaway agent) is misspelled “rouge” -- quite a different meaning!
On page 247, we are told about the way to short-circuit the JFK administration’s pressure on organized crime would be to not attack Attorney General Robert Kennedy, but his boss and brother, JFK.  The authors meant to say that removing President Kennedy from power would “defuse” Bobby’s efforts.  However, they use the word “diffuse,”  which means to thin out or dissipate.  Both words could be technically accurate, but I bet they wanted to de-fuse the powder keg that was Bobby Kennedy, not “spread him over a large area.”
On page 317, after a handy chart-type listing of all the deaths covered in-depth in the earlier chapter, there are several mentions of how you could add this or that person to “the list” or “the original list.”  But the names given are already on the list just given over the previous pages.  It’s unclear which list -- this book’s list or a list from somebody else -- is referred to.
Pages 319-320 ends the book with another table of people who were covered in previous pages.  Why give their names again when they were just talked about in earlier pages?
As you can see, these are minor quibbles and easily remedied in a later printing.  This book is a solid entry to stack up against the silly people who set aside or try to explain away the many recorded occurrences that make the simple Oswald-did-it storyline impossible.
If that “lone nut” killed the President and was bumped off by an over-reacting Kennedy family sympathizer (Jack Ruby), why would this cause the switching out of the rifle originally found for the one history now accepts as “the murder weapon”?  Why is there evidence of somebody pretending to be Oswald running around Dallas at gun ranges and taking test-drives (Oswald couldn’t drive)?  Why was evidence messed up and switched? 
If it was only a crazy guy with a rifle, how could that “truth” have caused the government’s own photographs of the autopsy to NOT MATCH UP with the government’s own x-rays supposedly taken at the same time, of the same head with the same wounds?
And on and on we could go.  But we are faced with the apparent fact that fifty years ago our government was changed by taking the choice away from the American people (they voted, you know) and letting that choice be made by various people who didn’t like the guy who was in charge.  It may not have been a simple process of (like in STAR TREK’s Mirror Universe) “kill the captain and we all move up in rank,” but it was wrong and it was a denial of every democratic and republican (lowercase letters) principle that our country has tried to live by.
You can trace nearly the entire soured-mistrust-of-government of the past five decades to this open wound of history, whose first cut was the murder of the president.
This is a valuable book, and it’s put together well.  It synthesizes years and generations of findings to make the point that things shouldn’t have happened the way they did.  Not without help from some bad men.  The fact that some of these bad men tried to justify their murders by justifying them with spy babble or face-saving rhetoric only makes their personal foulness and depravity stink all the more.
People who had not been given the right -- they decided to change the government of our country.  How dare they! 
Amos 5:24:  “But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”  Read this book and find your righteous anger fueled.

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