James DiEugenio's Lame Excuses for Fletcher Prouty
My series on Fletcher Prouty's interview with the ARRB consists of eight posts, and there is more to come. As you can see, Prouty was unable to corroborate any of the many allegations he made in his books and articles.
"Fletcher Prouty was where he says he was during the period from 1955-1964. His position can be documented. Beyond documents verifying his position, however, the ARRB is unlikely to add to the record by following Prouty's allegations or statements. His statements, coming from someone who was verifiably in a position to know, sound plausible, and would appear to carry the credibility of an insider's knowledge.
Under more careful analysis, it becomes clear that:
a.) Prouty has no first hand knowledge of any activities involving Lee Harvey Oswald, a plot to assassinate the president, or any evidence of such a plot.
b.) Prouty's allegations, while sounding authoritative, are based primarily on his interpretation of events. Furthermore, upon questioning, it seems clear that many of Prouty's allegations are not based on interpretations of actual events, but merely his feelings or general beliefs. Any follow-up action on his allegations would be an ineffectual use of ARRB time and resources.
c.) Prouty, in his published work, makes allegations which point clearly to a high level conspiracy. Given the opportunity to document these allegations or in some other fashion uncover the truth, however, Prouty declined to do so, and often retreated from or contradicted his published claims.
Two things should be emphasized: that this rejection of Prouty does not reflect a rejection or confirmation of any other conspiracy theories; and that the ARRB did not seek out Prouty for the purpose of discrediting him or theories. We had intended on hearing his story and trying to obtain suggestions from Prouty as to where we could find documents to add to the collection. In the face of numerous contradictions, unsupportable allegations, and assertions which we know to be incorrect, we have no choice but to conclude that there is nothing to be gained or added to the record from following up on anything he told us. No evidence was offered to substantiate any of the allegations Prouty has either published in the past or raised during the interview."
I mentioned this ARRB document in my book, On the Trail of Delusion - Jim Garrison: The Great Accuser. James DiEugenio, in his critique of my book, discussed the ARRB interview with Prouty:
"Which brings us to the ARRB appearance that Litwin likes to use against the man. Prouty understood from the first couple of questions what the agenda was. So he decided to play along and give them what they wanted. He then called Len [Osanic] and informed him about it."
Let's have a look at "the first couple of questions." Here is the letter that the ARRB sent Prouty:
All of the questions were friendly and routine. And Prouty is extremely talkative, no? The substantive questions start on page six and Prouty seems to be responding fully, without confusion. I encourage everybody to read the transcript for themselves, to see that the questioning was quite mild. On page eleven, Wray brings up Lansdale and Prouty talks at length. On page thirteen, Prouty pulls out a replica of the Christchurch newspaper. You can see how freely Prouty is talking on pages seventeen and eighteen.
The point is very clear. The actual transcript does not support DiEugenio's claim that there was an agenda.
So, let me get this straight - Prouty "played the ARRB" by pretending to be a doddering fabulist? This is 4D chess, right?
So, when did Prouty first write about the phone call from McKinney? The only reference, besides his books, was his article "The Guns of Dallas" in the October 1975 issue of Gallery Magazine. Here is the page from the article that mentions McKinney:
It is most likely that McKinney's recollection of the date was a few years off. Remember his ARRB interview was in 1997, more than twenty years after the phone call. The call probably happened at some point between 1972 and 1975. Here is an excerpt from his ARRB interview:
"Regarding Fletcher Prouty, McKinney did acknowledge telephonically contacting him after the assassination. However, it was in 1977 or 1978, and it was on a matter unrelated to the JFK assassination. By that time, McKinney was a newspaper reporter in Erie, PA. He was doing a story on a series of derailings which might have been caused by unsafe track conditions. He called "either Amtrak or Conrail, I can't remember which," and asked to speak to their PR person, and Fletcher Prouty got on the line. They talked for some time about the rail case, and then began conversing on other subjects. Prouty's interest in the assassination came up, and McKinney mentioned that he had been in the 316th. McKinney proceeded to tell Prouty the same story that he told us; i.e., that people in his unit wondered why they had been told they weren't needed, and that they could have provided extra security had they been asked. They discussed nothing classified, McKinney said, and this was the only occasion McKinney ever spoke to Prouty."
"In 1971, Prouty accepted a position at AMTRAK where he was responsible for developing AMTRAK's government and military marketing division. Starting in 1972, he was Senior Director of Public Affairs for Amtrak, a position he held until his retirement in 1982."
McKinney said he was writing a series on derailings. It just so happens that in March 1973 there was a major Amtrak derailing:
"One man was killed and at least 19 persons were injured today when five cars of Amtrak's Broadway Limited, carrying 167 passengers, left the track in a heavy snowstorm.
Four of the five derailed cars turned onto their sides, a witness said, splintering several utility poles and shearing off the front of a manufacturing company near the tracks.
The cause of the derailment, which occurred in this community about 15 miles south of Youngstown, was under investigation.
Henry Eckhart, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, said Penn Central officials told him that a previous accident might have damaged the track and caused the Amtrak accident."
Penn Central officials say that, a split rail caused the derailment Saturday of the Broadway Limited, a 17‐car Amtrak passenger train, resulting in minor injuries to 56 persons.
The train, with 435 passengers on board, was traveling from Chicago to New York when the mishap occurred about 40 miles northwest of Harrisburg. A railroad spokesman said that the top of a track section was split vertically, causing 13 cars to slip off the rail as it was rounding a curve.
According to published reports, the Federal Railroad Administration says that train derailments are increasing, primarily because of poor track conditions.
About 8,248 miles of Penn Central track is said to be in such poor condition that trains are under “slow orders,” which means that engineers must slow to below normal speeds. Spokesmen said that there were no such orders covering the stretch of track where the derailment occurred.
So, an early 1975 phone call from McKinney to Amtrak, to discuss derailments, is quite plausible.
There is one last issue regarding William McKinney. In Fletcher Prouty's testimony to the ARRB, he said that the phone call occurred in 1964 or 1965 (page 24 in the transcript). If it was in 1964, then why didn't Prouty call the FBI or the Warren Commission? If it was 1965, again, why not call the FBI? Why keep this all secret for ten years?
Of course, as we know, Prouty destroyed his notes. DiEugenio says that Len Osanic saw the notes. But what was the date on the notes? In 1964 or 1965, there would have been absolutely no reason for McKinney to call Prouty; in 1974-1975, there were very good reasons to call.
Fletcher Prouty could not substantiate any of his allegations during his interview with the ARRB. And conspiracy theorists aren't capable of substantiating them either.
Previous Relevant Posts on Fletcher Prouty
A summary document of his interview with the ARRB
Another summary document from the ARRB about Prouty's allegations and army intelligence.
Prouty had some very unsavory relationships with antisemitic groups.
Was Fletcher Prouty's Trip to Antarctica Unusual?
Regarding Christchurch, New Zealand and The Christchurch Star
Regarding the 112th Intelligence Corps (INTC) Group and/or the 316th INTC Detachment
Did Prouty Keep the notes from his supposed phone call about army intelligence?
Prouty's experience with military presidential protection duties
Flagrant failure by the Secret Service to take minimum precautions?
Did Lee Harvey Oswald participate in a covert program in Indonesia in 1958?
Was General Edward Lansdale in one of the pictures of the three tramps?