Monday, April 27, 2015

Alfred Goldberg - Pentagon Historian wrote Warren Report

 Philip Shenon - from "A Cruel and Shocking Act" (2013):


“Warren asked the director of the National Archives, Wayne Grover, for advice on recruiting a historian for the staff, and Grover said that some of the best in the government came from the Defense Department. He recommended two historians from the Pentagon – one from the army, the other from the air force. After interviewing both candidates, Rankin recommended the air force historian, forty-five-year-old Alfred Goldberg, a man of dry humor who had the instincts of a reporter. Goldberg had launched his career as a military historian while in uniform in Europe in World War II and later earned a PhD in history at John Hopkins University.”

“He was invited to meet Warren in his chambers at the Supreme Court and found the chief justice ‘very easy to talk to – friendly, pleasant, and I got to asking him questions. I asked him, why do you want to hire a historian?’ Goldberg remembered. ‘And he said – and this is a direct quotation – ‘I don’t trust all those lawyers.’”

“Goldberg had assumed Warren wanted him to write a history of the commission and that his job would be to document the work of the investigation as it went along. No, Warren said. He wanted Goldberg to bring a historian’s eye to the events of the assassination itself and to be a writer and editor of the commission’s final report. The chief justice, he said, wanted a report that read like something other than a cold legal brief.”

“Goldberg was given an office on the fourth floor of the VFW building, adjacent to one occupied by a pair of senior IRS inspectors who were trying to reconstruct Oswald’s finances. Goldberg found their work fascinating. The tax agents, Edward A. Conroy and John J. O’Brien, were excited to explain to Goldberg what they were doing. They were in search of the slightest bit of evidence that might suggest Oswald had received money from foreign agents or some other group of conspirators. Goldberg said that he was convinced that if Oswald had spent a a penny more than he earned from his assortment of menial jobs, Conroy and O’Brien would find it; there was a reason why tax payers feared an IRS audit, Goldberg now knew. ‘They got Oswald’s grocery receipts, they got everything,’ he recalled. ‘It was remarkable.’”

“Goldberg received a less friendly reception from some of the commission’s other staffers. ‘A lot of the lawyers looked rather askance at having somebody else, other than a lawyer, involved in the investigation,’ he said. He got a particularly frosty reception from Redlich, who planned to be the central author and editor of the final report and who was territorial about his authority. ‘I had the impression he was holding me at arm’s length,’ Goldberg said. ‘ He could be arrogant and high-handed.’”

“Then there was Rankin’s fearsome secretary, Julia Eide, who had worked for him at the Justice Department. Eide looked on herself as Rankin’s protector and enforcer. ‘She was not easy to get along with,’ Goldberg remembered. ‘Once I sized her up, I was careful not to get in her way.’”

“Alfred Goldberg was stunned that summer when he learned what the chief justice intended to do with the commission’s internal files – he wanted them shredded or incinerated. ‘Warren wanted to destroy all of the records,’ Goldberg recalled. ‘He thought these records would stir up more than they should,’ providing conspiracy theorists with evidence…He worried that much of the paperwork turned over by government agencies, and the CIA in particular, revealed national-security secrets only tangentially related to the president’s murder. ‘He thought the country and the world would be better off with those things never being made public,’ said Goldberg, who decided that he had to move fast – and quietly – to convince Warren to change his mind. As a historian, Goldberg was appalled at the idea that so much raw evidence about a turning point in American history would be lost to future scholars. Worse, he was convinced that if the public ever learned what had happened, the conspiracy theories would spin out of control; Lane and the others would seize on the documents destruction as proof of a cover-up.”

“Goldberg thought that if anyone could change Warren’s mind, it was Richard Russell. Whatever the differences between Warren and the senator, the Georgian was one of the most respected men in the capital, and the chief justice would listen to him….So he went to Alfredda Scobey, Russell’s representative on the staff, and asked her for help. She, in turn, went to Russell, who agreed to talk to the chief justice. And the senator convinced Warren that, whatever the risk of the disclosure of government secrets, ‘it would be a whole lot worse if we destroyed the documents,’ Goldberg said. Warren quickly reversed his order. Russell, Goldberg said, had ‘saved the day.’”

“Goldberg took on several writing assignments. He wrote the special chapter that listed – and rebutted – every major rumor and conspiracy theory. He divided the rumors into ten categories, ranging from the source of the bullets that struck the motorcade to the events at the scene of Tippit’s murder, and the many allegations about ties between Oswald and Ruby. He whittled down the list to 122 ‘speculations and rumors,’ and then answered each one with the ‘commission finding’ that spelled out the truth, as determined by the investigation. In his introduction to the chapter, he noted that every major assassination had produced conspiracy theories and that they began to circulate almost instantly. ‘The rumors and theories about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln that are still being publicized were for the most part buried within months of his death.’”

“As part of his research, Goldberg tried to read every one of the hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles that suggested an alternative explanation for Kennedy’s murder. ‘There was so much literature,’ he recalled. ‘There was an underground network operating already – all kinds of allegations, speculations and rumors.’”

“He was outraged after reading the first of the major conspiracy books – Who Killed Kenendy? By Thomas Buchanan, the ex-patriate American writer for L’Express. The book, released in the United States by the publishing house G.P. Putnam’s Sons, alleged that there had been at least two gunman in Dealey Plaza. Buchanan hinted that the conspiracy was undertaken by right-wing Texas businessmen. ‘I thought it was nonsense, the way most of those books were,’ Goldberg said. He was offended by the way so many supposedly legitimate scholars and journalists did not trouble themselves to research the basic facts of the assassination before rushing garbled conspiracy tales into print. ‘It was a good money-making thing for a lot of people.’ Goldberg said. The conspiracy theorists ‘were, in the main, either ignorant, crazy or dishonest.’”
“Goldberg believed that Buchanan, Mark Lane and others were preying on the confusion of millions of Americans who found it difficult to accept that the most powerful man in the world could be brought down by ‘such a pathetic little man’ as Lee Harvey Oswald. ‘They’d be much more comfortable knowing it was the result of some conspiracy, that some major figures were involved,’ Goldberg said. ‘How could this pipsqueak do all this?’”

“In preparing the ‘rumors’ appendix, Goldberg made use of the final report of staff lawyer Richard Mosk and IRS supervisor Philip Barson, an accountant who had been lent to the commission to complete the investigation of whether Oswald had income from unexplained sources, possibly from conspirators. Goldberg was impressed. In their report in Julyl, Mosk and Barson had been able to account – almost to the penny – for the money that went in and came out of Oswald’s pockets in the final weeks of his life, beginning on September 25, 1963, the day he reportedly left New Orleans for Mexico City. His income, including salary and unemployment insurance, totaled $3,665.89 while his expenses, including the cost of the Mexico trip, totaled $3,497.79. It was a difference of 4168, and that money was apparently accounted for, since Oswald left the $170 in cash for Marina in a drawer in the bedroom dresser.”

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