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A(Belated) Response to Todd Leventhal's Praise of Reclaiming History

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A(Belated) Response to Todd Leventhal's Praise of Reclaiming History

Post by greg parker on Thu 27 May 2010, 9:15 pm

Todd Leventhal is the Chief of the Counter-Misinformation Team for the U.S. Department of State. He is the Department's expert on conspiracy theories, and promotes and discusses related books and issues at

He made the following blog on Bugliosi's Recaliming History in May, 2008.

My comments are interspersed throughout.


Lee Harvey Oswald was famously uncooperative. For a time in grade school, he refused to salute the American flag.”
Does Bugliosi tell you that Lee’s brother, with whom he was living, worked for the Port Security Unit during this period of Lee’s life and that the Port Security Unit’s sole reason for being was to root out subversive elements on the waterfront? In doing so, they used a network of informants. Lee’s actions in class, as did his FPCC antics later in life, had the hallmarks of provocations. Check your history on court cases involving failure to salute the flag. In one of the more famous cases, Felix Frankfurter wrote, “that the school district’s interest in creating national unity was enough to allow them to require students to salute the flag”. According to Frankfurter, the nation needed loyalty and the unity of all the people. Since saluting the flag was a primary means of achieving this legitimate goal, an issue of national importance was at stake. In short, the issue was taken far more seriously than it appears to have been taken with Lee. Did Bugliosi bother to look into any of these precedent cases? No. He did not. The very fact that this failure to salute did not even trigger a back-ground check on Lee or his family to ascertain the genesis of his apparent lack of loyalty is odd to say the least. Added to that is the fact that Lee started saluting the flag again straight after his brother left the Port Security Unit.

When his high school football coach told him to jog around the field with other players, he refused, saying “This is a free country, and I don’t have to do it.” Oswald was a surly loner, ill-suited to working with, much less taking orders, from others.”
This is just cherry picking the evidence. People like Roy Truly, who gave him his job at the Texas School Book Depository, testified that Oswald was polite, always called him “sir” and did his job well with a minimum of supervision. Maybe Bugliosi believes this was a clever ruse by Oswald so as to be able to keep his job long enough in the hope that one day a presidential motorcade would pass by and he could make his mark on history? I mean, any ludicrous notion is preferable to humanizing the Lone Nut, correct?

Bugliosi also points out that Oswald had no help from co-conspirators when attempting to escape, taking a bus and then a cab back to his room.”
Which belies the fact that Oswald denied the bus/cab scenario and that a witness saw him get into a car driven by a dark-complected individual. The police initially took this seriously and advised the media they were looking for the car and the driver. It was only after orders to drop proposed conspiracy charges came through did the police find a bus ticket. Are you even vaguely aware of how “lucky” Dallas Police have been over many decades in “finding” evidence just when they needed to? The bus/cab witnesses by the way, would have to go down as among the worst “prosecution” witnesses in history. Try and read their testimonies and maintain any confidence in the police “getaway” theory.

Oswald only had a total of $183.87 to his name when he killed President Kennedy. He lived in a tiny (1.5 meters by four meters) room, which he rented for eight dollars per week. Nobody had paid him big bucks to be a hit man".
That’s good economic sense. Anyone who did pay him big bucks for such a service would have been sorely disappointed.

As for his living conditions, again you and Bugliosi ignore history – in this case, the history of deep cover agents. Many lived in as big a state of penury as Oswald – if not more so. Even cops go under cover, living in dives and blending in with those they are targeting. I am not saying this was necessarily the case with Oswald, but to not even consider the possibility is avoidance of an area that may point in directions you’d rather not contemplate.

But there’s a natural tendency to suspect conspiracy when a powerful official is killed and this case looked suspicious.
And sometimes conspiracies do exist – even egads! when it looks suspiciously like there may have been one!

Oswald had defected to Russia for three years,”
That is historically inaccurate. Oswald never defected.

tried to travel to Cuba,”
And could have if he had really wanted to, as e.g. a volunteer cane cutter through the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City.

and was killed by Jack Ruby two days after the assassination, in what looked superficially like a gangland slaying to silence him. But Ruby had acted alone and impulsively. He had been within three feet of Oswald on the evening of the assassination, while armed, but had made no effort to kill him, as a conspirator would have.”
For someone who doesn’t believe in conspiracies, you sure profess to know a lot about the behavior of conspirators! Oswald was only killed after he indicated to the head of the Secret Service that he would be willing to talk once he obtained legal representation. Oswald was supposed to have been protected by a tight four man guard around him. Captain Fritz, who organized and ordered that formation, took the front position for himself – then once in the basement, broke the formation by getting well ahead of the prisoner, which in turn opened up the target for Ruby. Fritz of course, was in a position to overhear that statement by Oswald, and to organize Ruby to be ready and available for a “go” signal the entire weekend.

" (Ruby frequently hung around police headquarters and routinely carried a gun for protection.)”
Yes. But that says nothing of what happened.

There’s much more fascinating information in Bugliosi’s extraordinarily well-researched book.”
If I had the time, I’d go through the book and explain all of the missed opportunities, the lack of appropriate research, and the cherry picked and distorted evidence.

The Obama administration, more than any other, has the opportunity to instigate a new, and finally, honest and unfettered investigation into the assassinations of the 1960s. That it chooses to categorize all theories as equally kooky is disappointing to say the vey least.

greg parker

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