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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

The Enabling of Oliver Stone

Updated: Jun 9, 2022

In March 1969, the New York Times called Jim Garrison’s prosecution of Clay Shaw, “One of the most disgraceful chapters in the history of American jurisprudence.” The only evidence Garrison had that Shaw had conspired to kill JFK was the false memory of a man who had been injected with sodium pentothal and then hypnotized on three occasions.

Not only were the best years of Clay Shaw’s life stolen, but he was outed to the world as a homosexual, and one with a predilection for S&M. With a large part of his savings depleted, he was forced to come out of retirement and go back to work. He sued Garrison for $5 million in damages, but the case floundered when he died of cancer in 1974.

One would have hoped that that would have been the end of it. In 1988, Garrison wrote a self-serving memoir, On the Trail of the Assassins, that once again defamed Clay Shaw. Rosemary James, a former journalist for the New Orleans States-Item, said the book was a “well-written, fast-moving, exciting piece of cold war spy genre fiction.”

Unfortunately, Oliver Stone believed it was a work of non-fiction. He felt it “read like a Dashiell Hammett whodunit,” and that Garrison was “somewhat like a Jimmy Stewart character in an old Capra movie.” He read the book three times and purchased the movie rights for $250,000.

Not surprisingly, gay groups were incensed at Stone’s film. David Ehrenstein, a writer for The Advocate, said that “Oliver Stone’s JFK is the most homophobic film ever to come out of Hollywood.” How could it not be? After all, Jim Garrison exploited homosexuality all throughout his non-existent case. For a brief but crucial period, Garrison thought that Kennedy was killed by a homosexual conspiracy.

JFK effectively destroyed Oliver Stone’s career. In his zeal to portray the United States as a malignant player on the world stage, he has since produced a variety of hagiographic documentaries on dictators like Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Vladimir Putin, and most recently, Nursultan Nazarbayev. He sees NATO and Ukraine as being threatening to Russia. He even blamed the United States for tensions regarding Taiwan.

Oliver Stone’s new documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, shows that he is susceptible to conspiratorial thinking unimaginable to JFK researchers from the 1960s. By giving conspiracy theorist James DiEugenio free rein over the course of four hours, Oliver Stone has redefined gullibility. A tiny amount of due diligence would have told Stone that DiEugenio’s analysis of the evidence is not just wrong, but easily debunkable.

A central DiEugenio premise is that had Lee Harvey Oswald stood trial, he would have been acquitted. He believes that most of the incriminating evidence, because of anomalies in the chain of possession, would have been thrown out of court. The problem with this unfalsifiable theory is that DiEugenio seems to have no interest in historical truth.

The murder of Lee Harvey Oswald meant that there was not going to be a trial. The Warren Report noted that “under our system there is no provision for a posthumous trial.” (page xiv) In any trial, it is the defendant who guides the defence – both in strategy and tactics- and with no defendant, one can not be sure how a trial would have proceeded.

Even if Oswald had been tried, there still would have been a need for some sort of investigation. The purpose of a trial is just to determine if a defendant is guilty. That necessitates very restrictive rules of evidence and thus only a narrow part of the whole story is uncovered. Questions about Jack Ruby, the murder of Officer Tippit, the attempted shooting of General Walker, and a variety of other important areas would still have had to been answered.

The Commission did not utilize an adversary system. Although lawyers persist in extolling the virtues of the adversary system, I doubt whether truth would have emerged from a Commission that presided over a bitter proceeding in which evidence would have been constructed and dissected towards partisan ends, and reconstructed in distorted summations.

Mosk felt that “such a method might have resulted in the chaos that sometimes accompanies Congressional Committee hearings.”

There are several important differences between a trial and an investigation. The Warren Commission, for example, decided to take testimony from witnesses in private. It is important to note that they weren’t secret – transcripts were published a couple of months after the Warren Report. In a trial, witnesses would have to testify publicly in open court. Mosk noted that many “witnesses, who at first seemed to be hesitant and nervous, seemed to gain confidence in the quiet atmosphere of a private hearing.”

The Warren Commission also allowed hearsay. They were interested “in any rumors which might provide leads to a conspiracy.” Testifying in public might have cast undue suspicion on innocent people.

Alfredda Scobey, a lawyer on the staff of the Warren Commission, wrote that “the fact is inescapable that the report, although crammed with facts that would not be admissible on the trial of a criminal case, sets out the whole picture in a perspective a criminal trial could never achieve.”

For instance, Marina Oswald would not have been allowed to testify at his trial. She would not have been able to confirm Oswald’s ownership of his blue and white jackets; she would not have been allowed to discuss Oswald’s admission of shooting at General Walker or his ownership of the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, and she would not have been allowed to admit that she took the backyard photographs.

More important, she alone identified the rifle as the one which he owned, and testified that she had seen him practice with it, that it had been moved from New Orleans to Dallas in Ruth Paine's station wagon and that it had been stored in a green and brown blanket in the Paine garage.

Alfredda Scobey believes that other pieces of evidence also might not be admissible at trial. The search in Ruth Paine’s garage might have been unconstitutional because both Ruth Paine and Marina Oswald might not have given informed consent. She also wonders whether the Tippit murder itself could have been brought up at trial.

Scobey notes:

If we assume that our defense counsel was very, very lucky, he would be able, if Oswald stood trial, either to exclude or impeach the testimony of a large number of key persons whose accounts add so much to the strength of the report.
I have always felt that the saga of [Senator Richard] Russell was an underrated and ignored story. I mean, his assistant, Scobey--who he brought up from Atlanta--later wrote an article which said that Oswald would not have been convicted in a real court of law.

Scobey did not say that at all.

To her, an important part of determining truth was the “documentary evidence and its interpretation by experts.” She writes that “the Warren Report, conceived as a criminal investigation carried to its utmost limits, illustrates the importance of utilizing the laboratory and the expert as sources of the most cogent evidence in criminal proceedings.”

And so, DiEugenio is right that a lot of evidence against Oswald would not be admissible in a court of law. But his perspective is diametrically opposed to that of Scobey. He doesn’t care if Marina Oswald could testify or not; he has no interest in whether the Tippit murder or the attempt on Walker’s life could be brought up at trial; and he really doesn’t care if the search of Ruth Paine’s garage was constitutional.

DiEugenio believes that the existence of supposed anomalies in the chain of possession of much of the underlying evidence (Oswald’s rifle, CE399, etc.) renders them not just inadmissible in a court of law, but also renders them inadmissible in an investigation. He has no interest in getting Oswald off on a technicality; he wants the judgment of history to declare Oswald innocent of killing JFK.

There was a time when JFK researchers would argue about CE399’s so-called ‘pristine’ condition. Because it is now clear that its appearance is entirely consistent with the wounds it caused, conspiracy theorists have to take a new tack.

James DiEugenio would have you believe that issues with its chain of possession can only mean that somewhere, between Dallas and Washington, the conspirators changed the bullet. But Kenneth Rahn noted that the “the window of opportunity [to plant items] came well before anyone knew what kind of fragments to plant and where.” How would conspirators know the nature of the wounds of Connally and Kennedy? How would they know what kinds of fragments or bullets to plant? What if they planted an extra bullet?

The Mannlicher-Carcano rifle was found at about 1 PM on November 22nd. It was kept by the Dallas police until about 11:45 PM at which time it was released to the FBI. We know with certainty that CE399 was fired by Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. If the conspirators planted it at Parkland, they would have had to fire the bullet well before the assassination.

Perhaps the conspirators switched out the bullet in Washington. But CE399 was in the possession of the FBI on the evening of November 22nd, well before they took possession of the rifle. Does DiEugenio believe the Dallas police fired the rifle and sent the bullet to Washington?

Since DiEugenio believes that multiple gunmen wounded and killed JFK, the conspirators must have expected that a lot of fragments would have been recovered. How could they know that CE399 would not be a bullet too many?

But that’s just one example. DiEugenio and Stone would have you believe that:

Who could organize all of this? Who would have decided what evidence was needed and when? How many people were involved in this coverup? On any of the details, DiEugenio, and hence Stone, is silent. As they must be. Because there is a not a shred of evidence to support any of this.

And so, when you ask DiEugenio about how this supposed conspiracy unfolded, he won’t answer. He said on the Education Forum that “In the talk I will give in San Francisco this weekend, I will explain that one of the things I told Oliver [Stone] was that I did not think we should advance a theory as to how the crime was actually committed. Because that had been the graveyard of others.”

But every now and then, DiEugenio lets you have a peek at his conspiracy. Here he talks about Curtis Lemay: (emphasis added)

In my opinion, LeMay was a part of the pre planned cover up. I believe the cover up was planned with the conspiracy.

JFK: Destiny Betrayed is an intellectual monstrosity. Oliver Stone was hoodwinked by a conspiracy theorist who is more than willing to reject any piece of physical (or other) evidence which does not fit his case. If the major pieces of physical evidence are fraudulent, then there is little possibility that any theory might turn out to be "true.” However weak, evidence could at least refute theories, but Mr. DiEugenio would like to destroy the entire empirical edifice of the JFK assassination.

Oliver Stone wasn't just hoodwinked. He was wittingly hoodwinked to bring DiEugenio's cockamaimy theories to the mainstream. Unfortunately, DiEugenio has enabled Stone to continue his JFK fantasy -- one that is based on a tendentious factual analysis based on seemingly serious footnotes.

What next?

Previous Relevant Blog Posts on JFK: Destiny Betrayed

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers into believing that Otto Otepka uncovered evidence that Oswald was a fake defector.

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, alleges that Jack Ruby was signaled by car horns in the basement of the Dallas Police Department. The evidence clearly shows that there were many horns being sounded in the basement.

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers by intimating that that there was a through-and-through hole in the windshield. This is simply not true.

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, makes the erroneous claim that Lee Harvey Oswald was not paid for his last quarter of service in the U.S. Marines.

JFK: Destiny Betrayed needlessly, and unfairly, criticizes the Sixth Floor Museum.

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, alleges that an extra bullet was found in JFK's limousine the evening of the assassination. This is just not true.

JFK: Destiny Betrayed alleges the CIA was involved in an assassination plot against French President Charles de Gaulle. Scenes from a fictional film are used to buttress the allegation. The truth - the CIA had nothing to do with the supposed plot.

"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on Allen Dulles and the Warren Commission The evidence is clear - Robert Kennedy wanted Allen Dulles on the Warren Commission.

Jim Garrison is AWOL in Oliver Stone's so-called documentary JFK: Destiny Betrayed.

Previous Relevant Blog Posts on JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass

Oliver Stone is disappointed that no major movie or TV reviewers have commented on his so-called documentary.

Yes, Oliver Stone is an alterationist.

James Kirchick's terrific article on Oliver Stone and homosexuality.

Just when I thought conspiracy theorists couldn't get any crazier.

Tracy Parnell debunks a series about JFK Revisited on the WhoWhatWhy website, and Andrew Jackson debunks the film on Quora. Both articles are well worth your time.

Did Saundra Spencer really develop a completely different set of autopsy photographs?

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary tries to make the case that a White House photographer took photos at the autopsy. The only problem is that there is no evidence he was actually there.

Stone misspeaks on the Joe Rogan show about JFK's brain.

Stone misspeaks on the Joe Rogan show and I present a challenge to conspiracy theorists.

Tracy Parnell dissects Morley's article on JFK assassination documents and "JFK Revisited"

Did President Kennedy actually say that he was going to shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the wind?

David Talbot claims that JFK told the French Ambassador that he was not in full control of his entire government. There is no evidence he ever said that.

"JFK Revisited" Misleads on Supposed CIA Support of the 1961 Coup Attempt in France Oliver Stone's so-called documentary claims the CIA supported the 1961 coup attempt against French President Charles de Gaulle in 1961. The only thing missing is evidence.

Max Boot: Oliver Stone just can't stop spreading lies about JFK's assassination.

Did Gerald Ford really disclose to French President Valery Giscard D'Estaing that the JFK assassination was a conspiracy? Perhaps not.

Robert Kennedy, Jr. believes in a massive conspiracy regarding Covid and the intelligence agencies.

While Gerald Ford edited some language in the Warren Report, he did not change the location of the back wound. Autopsy photographs show exactly the location of the back wound.

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary alleges that Oswald was "moved" to Dallas and "placed" in the Texas School Book Depository. This is totally ridiculous.

The preponderance of the evidence indicates JFK's throat wound was one of exit.

"JFK Revisited" Misleads on the Supposed Chicago Plot There is no evidence that there was actually a plot against JFK in Chicago.

Gochenaur's writings don't back up his allegations in JFK Revisited.

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary claims that Guy Banister gave Oswald a room at 544 Camp Street. The evidence does not support the allegation.

Dr. Robert Kirschner's consultation with the ARRB explains a mystery in the documentary.

JFK Revisited makes a big deal about the weight of JFK's brain and ignores a non-conspiratorial explanation.

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary makes it sound like the autopsy photographer said that he did not take the photos of JFK's brain that are in the current inventory,

Oliver Stone took to Twitter last weekend to bemoan the fact that the mainstream press is ignoring his so-called documentary, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass.

There is something really obscene about Oliver Stone once again going after Clay Shaw.

You won't learn everything you need to know about Connally's position on the shots from Oliver Stone's so-called documentary.

Oliver Stone tries to make it seem like Marina Porter has denied taking the backyard photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Oliver Stone once again raises the issue of the legitimacy of the backyard photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald.

This post debunks every witness that has ever claimed Shaw was Bertrand.

He cannot imagine any sort of non-conspiratorial explanations for any of the suspicious pieces of evidence in his film.

No, Clay Shaw was not a "contract agent."

Steve Roe Blog Posts on JFK Revisited

Steve Roe finds additional evidence that debunks the allegation in JFK: Destiny Betrayed

that Oswald not paid by the Marines for the 3rd quarter of 1959.

Stone and DiEugenio falsely accuse the Sixth Floor Museum as openly promoting Oswald as the Assassin.

An exchange of letters between James DiEugenio and Jeremy Gunn of the ARRB.

Is This How Real Documentaries Are Made? There is some 'interesting' editing in Oliver Stone's so-called documentary.

JFK Revisited Screen Writer Crawfishes on Dallas to Chicago Airmail Overnight Delivery James DiEugenio changes his story on the Klein's money order.

Conspiracy theorist James DiEugenio doesn't understand the history of the mail deliver in the United States.

The truth about Jack Ruby and the FBI.

JFK Revisited: Again, Caught Creating False Mysteries "Stone/DiEugenio hatch another Bogus Mystery with Sinister Strap/Sling Mounts on Oswald's Rifle"

Oliver Stone claims that Oswald could not have been in the sniper's nest on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Steve Roe exposes Stone's mistakes.

In an interview on RT [Russia Today], Oliver Stone says that the throat wound might have been made by a flechette.

Steve Roe presents some examples of Oliver Stone's 'creative' abilities.

Oliver Stone distorts the testimony about Oswald's palmprint on the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle.


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