Friday, November 19, 2010

                 Did Castro Kill Kennedy? A Review
                        John Delane Williams                     

    Andrei Moscovit's book Did Castro Kill Kennedy? [1] is an important addition to the JFK assassination literature. The book has an unusual publication history. It was published in Russian in the United States in 1987. It was republished in Russia in 1991. Finally, it was translated into English by V. Klimenko and published in the U. S. in 1996. Somewhere along the line, errors in grammar, capitalizations and incorrect English have crept into the text. On p. 142, two sentences leaves one with the feeling that moving back and forth between the languages can be problematical:  "Above all, this called for restoring the reputation of the primary witness: Ellen Markham. (Let us remember that it was just then, at the beginning of March, 1964, that Helen Lane  told the Commission about his telephone conversation with Ellen Markham..." Those familiar with the story realize that it is Helen (not Ellen) Markham, and Mark (not Helen) Lane. These sorts of errors make one wish for a good editor who is also familiar with the JFK assassination story. Notwithstanding these occasional faux pas, this is a useful addition to the JFK case.
    This book is much more an interpretive piece than it is an introduction of new evidence, though new information about Oswald's stay in the Soviet Union is presented. However, Moscovit uses the available information in some fairly unique ways that bear consideration.    Moscovit creates four parts to his analysis. He begins with the murder of Oswald, then the murder of Tippit, then the murder of JFK, and finally, consideration of possible conspirators. His reverse temporal consideration of the murders is deliberate and leads him in his analysis.
             How Did Ruby Get into the Garage?
    Moscovit disputes whether Ruby entered the auto ramp from Main Street and walked past Roy Vaughn, a Dallas Policeman; this scenario was used in the Warren Commission reconstruction. Vaughn denied that Ruby could have entered thru that door between 11:17 A.M. (the time stamped at the Western Union) and 11:21 A.M. (the time of the Oswald shooting). At least four different people saw Ruby in or near the police station on the morning of November 22, 1963. Three TV station crew members saw Ruby outside the police station between 8:00 and 9:30. (p. 44). Evangelist Ray Pershing met Ruby in an elevator going to the third floor around 9:30 A.M. Muscovit maintains that Ruby must have had an accomplice who got the Western Union receipt. Officer Frank McGee testified that he saw Tom Howard (a future Ruby lawyer, with a shady reputation) at the police station as Oswald was being taken out of the jail elevator just before his final walk. Howard posted a bond for Ruby at the police station five minutes after the shooting. Howard died at 48 of a heart attack on March 28, 1965. [2]. It is Muscovit's contention that Ruby briefly posed as a TV crew member and came to the garage at the same time as two crew members brought in a camera. Two officers recalled that three crew members pushed a camera past them. There were only two crew members present. Moscovit surmises the Dallas Police covered up this information to cover their own incompetence for not checking for credentials.

                      The Murder of Officer Tippit
    Moscovit first addresses the time of the Tippit murder. The Warren Commission places this at 1:15. Other witnesses put it earlier; Helen Markham said it was 1:06 or 1:07. [3] T.F. Bowley went to the fallen police officer. He glanced at his watch, seeing 1:10, meaning the shooting took place at 1:09 or earlier. [4] The earlier times reported by witnesses required that Oswald be driven to the site; not enough time was allowed for walking. Muskovit describes a scenario that can serve as his thesis for the Tippit murder. The plan was to pick up Oswald at the Texas Schoolbook Depository. Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig saw a person whom he later identified as Oswald be picked up in Dealey Plaza in a light green Nash Rambler station wagon. [5,6] He was then to be taken near his apartment and was to wait for a ride to a rendezvous spot. At the rendezvous spot he was presumably to get a getaway car (Muskovit suggests  a 1961 red Falcon with stolen plates that would be recognized by Tippit). If things went according to Ruby's plan, with any luck, both Tippit and Oswald would be killed. In particular, if Oswald survived, killing Oswald became Ruby's job. While there is only scant evidence for this scenario, some evidence exists. Frank Wright heard the shots and ran outside in time to see a grey (possibly Plymouth) coupe and a man run to it from Tippit's cruiser; he quickly drove off. [7] Six people identified Oswald as being the person running toward the nearby Bouw-Texaco gas station (p. 153). A mechanic who worked in a garage noticed a man acting suspiciously, trying to hide in a 1961 red Falcon, with license plates PP-4537, the license plates that belonged to a close friend of Officer Tippit; the car the plates belonged to was a light and dark blue Plymouth (p. 155). Obviously, considerably more substantiation is necessary to accept Muscovit's thesis regarding Tippit's death.                  
    Muskovit had one major advantage over North American JFK researchers; he could investigate the Soviet aspects of Oswald's life with much greater access. One informant told Muskovit that Oswald was pointed out to him at the foreign language institute, when workers would be normally expected to be working at their jobs. Another informant was shown pictures of Oswald and his coworkers. They were seen to be working on secret military production. Muskovit concluded Oswald was really a Soviet agent, trained at the Minsk KGB school.
    Muskovit surely is more daring than other authors. He names Charles Givens, then a 38 year old employee of the TSBD, as a possible accomplice of Oswald. He also names Dallas Police Officer Henry Olsen and Reserve Officer Richard Croy as likely to have been involved in the planned killing of Oswald at his encounter with Officer Tippit. Muskovit presumes LHO to be a shooter, with John Connelly as his target, invoking the Jarnagin [8] story. Carroll Jarnagin was a lawyer who supposedly overheard Oswald and Ruby discuss the assassination of Governor Connally in October, 1963.
    The Henry Hurt [9] interview of Robert Easterling is woven into Muskovit's theory. Easterling was reportedly being set up to be Oswald's driver. Both were apparently scheduled to be killed near the Bouw-Texaco station, according to Muskovit. Easterling bolted from the plan and failed to pick up Oswald at the Greyhound station.
                        Body Tampering
    Muskovit also concluded that JFK's body was tampered with- but for reasons that they wished to keep medical conditions secret. It is now known that JFK suffered from adrenal insufficiency, likely to be due to either Addison's disease or Pott's disease. [10]
More recently, it has been revealed that at different times JFK had venereal infections-presumably far more embarrasing to have been found out than Addison's disease or Pott's disease. [11] Commander Humes' well known assertion that he was unaware of possible shots from the front in the throat at the time of the autopsy [12] is countermanded by  Robert B. Livingston, M.D., who stated that he called Dr. Humes on the day of the assassination but prior to the autopsy. He told Dr. Humes that, judging from the news reports from the doctor's at Parkland Hospital,  JFK had a small frontal neck wound of entry. [13]  Further, conversations between Parkland Hospital and the Bethesda autopsy room occurred at least seven different times during the autopsy. [14] One might infer that tampering with the autopsy report itself (including the destruction of the first draft) may have made body tampering unnecessary. This is not to say body tampering didn't take place, however. Much of the information presented in this paragraph has become available since Muscovit first wrote the book.
                     The Cuban Connection
   In what is surely the main aspect of the Muskovit theory, the involvement of Castro and the Cubans, the least amount of tangible evidence is presented. Muskovit rounds up the usual suspects: The Mafia, LBJ, the FBI, right wingers and wealthy oilmen, the CIA, anti-Castro Cubans, the military industrial complex, Khrushchev, and Castro. While the involvement of one or the other suspects would seem to be indisputable, either in the assassination or the coverup or both, Muskovit concludes the ultimate decision making emanated from Castro.
   The threat to Castro ultimately was the cause for Castro to peg JFK for assassination, according to Muskovit. Ten weeks before the assassination, Castro gave a interview to Daniel Harker indicating that U.S. leaders could pay with their own lives for plotting against Castro. [15] When asked of this interview, Castro explained that it would have been insane for Cuba to plot to assassinate the American president. [16]. The Cuban Embassy in Mexico was said to be aware of the assassination prior to the actual assassination. [17] Muskovit does not address the story of Richard Case Nagell, which could explain this pre-knowledge. Nagell was said to have flown to Havana on September 19, 1963 to confer with Cuban aides to see if they could shed light on the assassination plot. Their only advice was to shoot Oswald in the hope that it would stop the plan. [18] Nagell subsequently took two shots in a San Antonio bank, presumably to take him out of any consideration of shooting Oswald and to put himself in jail at the time of the assassination. [19]  Perhaps among the more interesting aspects of the Cuban connection is in relation to two unusual flights by Cubana Airlines from Mexico City to Havana. The first of these involved a five hour delay, with departure at 10:30 P.M. on November 22, 1963. Years later it was determined that this person was Miguel Casas Saez, who had been in Dallas from the beginning of November until the 22nd. Saez had arrived in a two engine plane, did not go thru customs, and rode in the cockpit as the only passenger aboard. [20]
A second flight was associated with Gilberto Policarpio Lopez, who was said to have driven to Texas from Tampa on November 20th after having secured a visa to visit Mexico. Muskovit questions whether Lopez is one of the Latins encountered by Rose Cheramie. Lopez flew out of Mexico City on Cubana Airlines on November 27th, again as the only passenger. [21] It would be interesting to know if Cubana Airlines were simply not encountering much business in Mexico City, or if these two flights were glaring exceptions.
    It would appear that Muskovit built no stronger a case for Castro as being the central plotter than could have been made for the suspects whom he rejected for that role. Had Muskovit taken the more modest thesis of claiming there was a Cuban connection with at least one of the sniper teams in Dealy Plaza, his interpretations would have been more believable. Perhaps Muskovit was trying to fill the void of determining the central plotter, given the likelihood of multiple assassination teams.
1.  Muscovit, A. (1991, 1996, English version). Did Castro Kill        Kennedy? Washington, D.C.: Cuban American National Foundation.
2.  Roberts, C. & Armstrong, J. (1995). The Dead Witnesses. Tulsa,      OK: Consolidated Press International.   
3.  3H, p.306.
4.  22H, p. 202.
5.  6H, pp 266-267.
6.  23H, p. 817.
7.  Nash, G. & Nash, P. (Oct 12, 1964). The Other Witnesses.           The New Leader.
8.  26H 254-261.
9.  Hurt, H. (1985), Reasonable Doubt. New York: Holt, Rinehart &      Winston.
10. Livingstone, H.E. (1992). High Treason 2:The Great Coverup. New      York: Carroll & Graf.
11. Hersh, S. (1997). The Dark Side of Camelot. Boston: Little,        Brown & Co.
12. Shaw, J.G. with Harris, L. (1976, 1992). Cover-up. Austin, TX:      Collector's Editions.
13. Fetzer, J.H. (1997). Statement of 18 November 1993. #2 In          Fetzer, J.H. (Ed.) Assassination Science: Experts Speak out on      the Death of  JFK. Chicago: Blackfeet Press. (pp. 149-152).
14. Livingston, R.B. (1997). Statement of 18 November 1993. In         Fetzer, J.H. (Ed.) Assassination Science: Experts Speak out on      the Death of  JFK. Chicago: Blackfeet Press. (pp. 161-166).
15. Blakey, G.R. & Billings, R.N. (1981). The Plot to Kill the         President. New York: Times Books.
16. 3HSCA, p. 210.
17. 11HSCA, p. 494.
18. Turner, W.W. (July 25-31, 1975). Bank Robber, 'Manchurian          Candidate' linked to JFK Asssassination Probe. Los Angeles         Free Press.
19. Russell, D. (1992). The Man Who Knew too Much. New York:           Carroll & Graf.
20. Hurt, H. (1985).
21. Johnson, J. (Nov. 19, 1989). Did Castro murder JFK? A New Look      at Some Old Puzzles: The CIA, Castro, and Revenge. p. 5D. cited      in Muskovit, p. 318.
From The Fourth Decade: A Journal of Research on the John F. Kennedy Assassination. (1998). 5, 4, 19-22.

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