The JFK Assassination Diary

Edward Jay Epstein is incapable of writing a dull book. He is the author, for example, of three fascinating books on the Kennedy assassination: Inquest: The Warren Commission and the Establishment of Truth, Counterplot: Garrison vs. Oswald, Ferrie, Shaw, Warren Commission, FBI CIA, the Media, the Establishment and Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald. His three books on the assassination have been collected in The Assassination Chronicles. Also related to the subject are his ebooks Killing Castro and James Jesus Angleton: Was He Right? as well as his classic 1992 New Yorker article, “Epitaph for Jim Garrison: Romancing the Assassination.”

Ed is also the author, most recently, of The JFK Assassination Diary: My Search for Answers to the Mystery of the Century just published in paperback (available here) and as an ebook. The new book is drawn from the contemporaneous journals Ed kept as he worked on the assassination books. Ed sent each section of the book to me as he put it together. I found the journals almost unbelievably interesting and I highly recommend the book. Next week I hope to post an interview with Ed about it. In the meantime, he sends along the following brief note:

As you know I was the only person, ever, to interview the Warren Commission as well as its staff and liaisons with the intelligence services. And I did these interviews as an undergraduate at Cornell with no credentials as a journalist, scholar, or author. My interviews also produced revelations that shook the entire establishment of journalism, which had been blithely reporting up until the publication of my book “Inquest” that the Commission had left no stone unturned in an exhaustive investigation. Yet, in fact, as I showed, it was a brief, sporadic, and incomplete investigation.

Indeed, it was one in which the senior staff lawyer in charge of the crime scene investigation quit after two days, and the young lawyer who took his place, Arlen Specter, was never able to view the single most crucial piece of evidence–the autopsy photographs. As it turned out, the Commission was never able to obtain them, or other pieces of evidence, because Robert Kennedy blocked it. For the same reason, the Commission was not provided with any information about a parallel plot to kill Castro in 1963. So the Commission could not connect dots to which it was denied access.

I had no problem getting this information. Many of the young lawyers on the staff were furious with the way the investigation was handled and the time pressure imposed on them. So they gave me FBI reports, payroll records and their memos, without me even asking. This raises a question.

As these lawyers and Commission members were not bound by any secrecy agreement, as amazing as that might seem nowadays, why didn’t journalists from major news organizations seek out the same information from them? After all, in 1963, the Kennedy assassination was the crime of the century. Fifty years later, I still cannot answer this question. (The question of who killed JFK is far easier to answer.)

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