Larry Schnapf' - National Press Club - March 16, 2017
CAPA Board member and Legal Committee Co-Chair
Remarks, Informal Transcript by William Kelly
National Press Club
March 16, 2017
Dr. Cyril Wecht: So at this time I want to introduce one of the members of the CAPA Board of Directors, a practicing attorney in New York City who I respect, who has done a tremendous amount of work on this case with us, and who has acquired a great degree of background knowledge. Jim Lesar, whom you have already heard from and whom I introduced earlier. I'm going to turn over this portion of the program and introduce to you at this time Attorney Larry Schnapf.
Larry Schnapf: I'm Larry Schnapf, I'm co-chair of the CAPA Legal Committee and I'll tell you shortly what we're doing. Before I start, just curious, how many people in this room consider themselves part of the media? Oh good. Okay.
What I'm going to talk about is why the JFK assassination is still important today, and also what we're going to be doing, from a legal standpoint to try to shed some light on this case. Just to let you know I'm a member of the New York State Bar Association and when I told my colleagues I was coming down here, they said why are you wasting your time on the Kennedy assassination, when we have so many pressing modern issues to deal with.
Lo and behold, on my way down this morning, when I was flying down, I was in seat 6B and in seat 6A was Donald Trump Jr. So I spent 45 minutes talking about environmental issues to Donald Trump Jr. So I'm accomplishing both of my goals.
So the Warren Commission was the original fake news full of alternative facts. People that believe in the Warren Commission's conclusions are the equivalent of today's climate deniers. Why do I say that? Because Warren Commission's conclusions was based largely on evidence that would not have been admissible in a court of law, they typically overstated the evidence as to what was really said, they cherry-picked evidence and exaggerated what it meant, they failed to disclose exculpatory information. They failed to pursue leads that would have led to exculpatory information. They bullied witnesses, in fact, it's really interesting with the doctors, to see how many times they go off the record. Whenever witnesses start going down the wrong road, lawyers know what to do. There's a lot of times they go off the record, and you'll see, whenever they go off the record to correct the testimony of the witness.
So they bullied witnesses, they actually changed testimony, from when it was unsworn, then it goes into the record and it's different. They declined to call witnesses who had adverse, or had information that would be contrary to the facts they were trying to establish, particularly with Connelly's ... The doctor in charge of Connelly's surgery and some other doctors that had information that the questions weren't asked that would have been detrimental to the single bullet theory. Many of the potentially exculpatory information is now hidden behind government secrecy. We're hoping that some of this comes out this year.
Even Jesse Curry, who was in charge of the investigation said in his 1969 book that they were unable to put Oswald on the sixth floor at the time at 12:30, at the time of the shooting, firing that rifle. You'll often see every time someone comes up with something contrary, the proponents of the Warren Commission will call it not credible evidence, well that gets us into the press and the press this year, this election cycle was really illustrative of both the press and our institutions. The press was clearly in a bubble, just like the press in 1963 was in a Cold War bunker. They press in 1963 was supporting institutions of this country," again, in the cold war. The press this time around is in an elite bubble it's in the ... I was a journalist, by the way, before I was a lawyer. Well it was a weekly newspaper, I wasn't a big journalist. When I didn’t get to be where I wanted to be by 27, I decided to go to law school. Law school was always a fallback in those days for those of my generation.
There are a couple of journalistic or media theories out there. One is known as "the Overton Window" the other one is known as the "Hallins Sphere,” Basically it's what the media decides what is consensus, what is reasonably in dispute, and what is deviance. What we're seeing in this generation ... I'm also seeing this with the millennial lawyers as well, there seems to be this fear of sticking your neck out. We're seeing a lot of group think, whatever you want to call it, group think, pack mentality, conventional wisdom, consensus, but the reporters tend to not want to go outside of the normal realm. Now sometimes it's that the Charlie Roses and the Chis Matthews in the world don't want to antagonize their sponsors, some don't want to be excluded from going to the exclusive parties , they're afraid if they are appear as an outlier, they won't get invited to the parties where they mingle with other elites and reinforce their mainstream thinking. What the result of this thinking is, is that anyone that ... people that are serious JFK researchers are kind of looked at as deplorable, they are called conspiracy theorists, or buffs. But there's a lot of serious people out here, and the reason I'm here is because of a real concern about our country, and that the same things that happened in 1963 are happening now.
It used to be said that people that believe in a conspiracy couldn’t accept the fact that a nobody killed the president, took down the president. What's really the issue, I think, is that the lone gunmen believers can't accept that in this country, something like this could have happened. Just look at pages 986 to 988 of Vincent Bugliosi's book, and he tells is right there. If there was a conspiracy what does is it say about the United States of America? It means we're no different from the Europeans, that we're like a Banana Republic. This is about protecting the institutions of this country, and that's why…. I will give LBJ the benefit of the doubt, and say in 1963, it was probably an understandable cover up because there was a fear of going to war and our European allies were nervous, it was the height of the Cold War, and I can understand maybe in those days, keeping the secrets away from our citizens. But 50 years later? I mean if Oswald truly was a lone assassin, as Jeff Morley said earlier today, why are the files still being held? What is there to hide?
There are some other analogies, but let me ... Something that's actually right on point is the Cruz Father story, this is a classic example of how the media has been misreporting the Kennedy assassination from day one. First of all Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow, and even the people on Fox, said that Donald Trump said the Ted Cruz's father was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy. He did not say that. He said that Ted Cruz's father was with Oswald in New Orleans in August when he was handing out the pamphlets. He said nothing about being involved in the Kennedy assassination, but that's how it was reported. They missed the real story though. The real story is we don't know who was around Oswald, why don't we know? Were they exiles, or were they real Cubans? Oswald was reportedly handing out supporting free Cuba leaflets. We have reason to believe that the people around him were Cuban Exiles, and why don't we know? Because everything is hidden.
That's the real story, that's what the press should have been investigating. Why don't we know that four people standing around Oswald? And they missed that story completely because of their group think. It was, Donald Trump is crazy, he's calling Ted Cruz's father a conspiracist. It advances their view that Donald Trump was not qualified to be President. It was their bias, and that's what the press did throughout this campaign. The press was chasing profits and they raised Donald Trump up in the primary, when they could have done all those investigations they did later on, but they didn't do that.
Let's turn to Hillary. Hillary and the emails, what does that tell us? There has been a pattern in this country now of government employees trying to evade or prevent creating government records. Back in the 1960's and what we're discovering during this process with the board, it was government records were being destroyed, or being over classified so they can't be disclosed. We have some of that now as well, obviously Hillary's emails, there was a dispute about what was truly security and what was not. What we're having is, instead of having a greater transparency as Obama said on day one of his administration, he was going to be one of the most transparent government ever. We have people at all levels of government create using private emails, why? Because they don't want to create government records that are subject to FOIA.
I have it, we have it in New York. In New York up until six months ago, Governor Cuomo had a rule that government emails could be destroyed in 30 days. When I talk to people in EPA and they have private emails, I ask them ““what records are government records?”, “how do we decide which ones they are”? We have a culture of secrecy, what they're trying to do is not create government records because then they don't have to worry about destroying them.
The FBI. The FBI was in charge of the Warren Commission investigation, it was clearly a politicized investigation. Hoover was in charge of it. What happened this time around? The FBI was still interfering with our political campaign. Now I'm a republican, a Teddy Roosevelt republican. So I'm not some JFK far left democrat that loves JFK. I'm not coming from that direction, so when I say these things, know where I'm coming from, and know I was a former journalist.
So we have politicization of our institutions and it's still going on. Comey says no reasonable prosecutor would have commenced an action. Well he's going to say that the Warren Commission did. They decided ... They became the prosecutor. That wasn't Comey’s role to decide if he was a prosecutor or not, that was a department of justice decision.
You know that today's refugees, the equivalent in the 1960's were the Cubans. Cubans were the refugees in the early '60s, one out of ten Cuban refugees were Castro agents. We would have been in the same situation with our refugees today as with them. A lot of the Cuban exiles were very hostile, they had extremely violent groups. So we would be still back in the same situation occurring now. Today's terrorists was the 1960's communists. We are doing the same thing that we did then. Think about this also, Donald Trump probably has the greatest ... probably has the most hostile relationship with the national security apparatus as JFK. The next person would have been Nixon. We know what happened to JFK, Nixon, once he started threatening the CIA about opening up the “Bay of Pigs” thing, they took him down. So I'm really worried about, whether you like Donald Trump or not, I'm concerned about where this is going. Everything is still in place.
This is what we're going to do. CAPA is obviously pushing to open up the records, we're going to do everything we can, whether it's public events like this, whether it's going to be legal actions against the national archives. We're also going to be conducting a mock trial at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, November 16th and 17th, a two-day trial. We're going to do what's never been done before. Now there have been four mock trials by the way, since the JFK assassination. Yale Law School in 1967 resulted in a hung jury, in 1986 was the televised trial with Vincent Bugliosi and the Hayseed Spencer, he wasn't prepared for the trial and that resulted in a conviction. In 1992 the ABA had a two-day trial which resulted in a hung jury. In 2013, the Dallas Bar Association had a trial, a one-day trial, resulted in a hung jury. So the only time there has been a conviction, in a mock trial, has been the 1986 case with Spencer and Bugliosi.
What none of them have done is the classic criminal case, which is ... we're going to go through the evidence. We're going to go through the hulls that were found on the sixth floor, the bullet fragments, the magic bullet. We're going to get a 3-D scanner, we're going to scan the tool marks on the bullets to see if they really do link back to the rifle. We're going to look at the hair fibers, we're going to look at the paper bag. We're going to look at it as if this was a real trial ... which evidence would be admissible which, evidence would not be admissible.
We think, we're hoping to get Marina Oswald to come in, to testify, to set the historic record straight, you have to ... She is to me a sympathetic figure. She was a 23-year old mother her husband was just murdered, she's not a citizen, and she has a choice. She has a classic Sophie's choice, does she tell the truth about her dead husband, or does she protect her babies and tell the government, she's afraid of the government from where she came, does she tell the government what they want to hear. So, what we're hoping to do, we believe that we have a basis to establish that the Oswald was not convictable, much less not indictable.
If we're successful and we can establish that, in this two-day trial ... Dr. Wecht is going to be on the day two, the day one is going to be a straight ... This started off really as a, you have to think about this ... This begins as a cop killer case. Oswald allegedly shoots Tippit, and you know when you shoot a cop, you know what all the cops are going to do. They're going to do whatever they can to get that guy, right? Then it suddenly becomes the assassination of the President. So if there was planted evidence, it was probably planted to make sure there is a conviction on Tippit. This is an aside. There is a proceeding in Texas known as court of inquiry. It's a real legal procedure that you can file at anytime, and if we're successful in this mock trial, we are going to bring a real legal proceeding in Texas, on behalf of the daughters of Lee Oswald to expunge the stain of their father's name from their name, and try to expunge his arrest record. He wasn't convicted, but he was arrested. So that's what we're going to do in November we're going to be doing the mock trial.
All right, so we're going to do the mock trial, we're going to have it videoed and we are probably going to have to raise some money because we're going to have some expert witnesses. We actually have the people who did the Failure Analysis from the 1992 mock trial that Posner actually used, he only asked for the prosecution side of the file, I have the defense file as well.
Apparently when he did the trajectory cone the first time, it actually focused on the Dal Tex building. We are not trying to figure out who killed the president. That's not our job, we don't have subpoena power. We are just going to show that Lee Oswald was not the shooter, the lone shooter, or not the shooter at all. That's what we hope to prove.
That is what CAPA is going to do in November, we hope that members of the press will follow this mock trial. Bob Tanenbaum who was the Deputy Council to the House Assassinations Committee is on our defense team. We will by April know who the prosecution, and who the judge is. We will have a jury, and it's going to be a full-fledged two-day trial, and we would like you to support us because we need to pay for some of our experts. The lawyers are doing this pro bono, we believe in this so much, I'm taking time off my busy private environmental law practice to do this.
We hope to use this mock trial to show the alternative facts and the junk science, the Warren Commission was the original junk science case. We're going to try to prove that. ###