Tom Hanks and the politics of reassurance

Tom Hanks’ take on the JFK story is advancing. The actor/producer’s feature film, Parkland, about the events of November 22, 1963, has signed on A-list actors, Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Giamatti, and Jackie Weaver. The producers say the talented thespians will bring VIncent Bugliosi’s 2007 book, “Reclaiming History” to life. That will be a challenge.

Bugliosi’s tome is a flabby 1,600 page doorstop of polemic that managed to win uncritical acclaim while avoiding most of  the new evidence that has emerged since Oliver Stone’s “JFK.” By systematically debunking the oldest and least credible interpretations of the JFK assassination story, Bugliosi (big surprise) found no credible evidence of a conspiracy.

I count Vince as friendly acquaintance. He is an independent thinker (witness his case against George W. Bush for war crimes) but when it comes to JFK he failed to consult the newest best evidence. He didn’t challenge his own assumptions. He avoided the hard questions. IMO

He averted his eyes from the new evidence of CIA negligence, which has actually grown stronger in the last decade. Thanks to a pregnant CIA cable not fully declassified until 1998, we now know that Oswald, the accused assassin, was well-known to five top CIA officers working for deputy director Dick Helms and counterintelligence chief Jim Angleton just six weeks before JFK was killed. They assured the CIA station in Mexico City and the FBI in Dallas that Oswald’s two year residence in communist Russia “had a maturing effect on him.

Six weeks later, the “maturing” Oswald allegedly killed Kennedy.

According Bugliosi and Hanks, the fact that the CIA knew about the psychopathic Oswald and badly underestimated him is no cause for concern.You don’t need to worry about such things on your way to “Parkland.”

Hank’s star vehicle seems sure to be reassuring about national security politics. But will it be faithful to history?

24 thoughts on “Tom Hanks and the politics of reassurance”

  1. Please research the assignation attempt on JFK which cancelled JFKs motorcade 1 hr before it was to go to the Army Navy game out of Ohare Airport on Nov 2 1963. The tip came from an FBI informant- was it the same one who warned of the Dallas plot?( only to have that information(FACT) be ordered to be removed from every single FBI office in the country.

  2. Michael Schweitzer, Attorney at Law (retired)

    Tom Hanks is committing an act of treason against the United States.

  3. I would just like to ad that if anyone here is reading or re-reading ‘Reclaiming History’ they might like to read James DiEugenio’s review of ‘Reclaiming History’ at the same time. It can be found on CTKA’s website and is very in-depth.

  4. Jeff, thanks for clarifying. To me, “negligence” is usually associated with “incompetence” and that is why I have taken it as an either/or situation. Either negligence (incompetence) or deliberate action. But you are correct. In a legalistic sense, negligence, used on its own, has no such implications.

    As an aside, I am very interested in the various standards people use in assessing evidence, as well as their reasons for those standards – particularly when agendas become evident through the use of double standards.

    1. Greg – have you read Barry Krusch “Impossible – The Case Against LHO” ? several volumes of painstaking legal dissection of the validity of the evidence in the case. A real eye-opener, as it’s based on objective analysis and and it blows “lone gunman” theories out of the water on a huge scale.

  5. [quote]we now know that Oswald, the accused assassin, was well-known to five top CIA officers working for deputy director Dick Helms and counterintelligence chief Jim Angleton just six weeks before JFK was killed. They assured the CIA station in Mexico City and the FBI in Dallas that Oswald’s two year residence in communist Russia “had a maturing effect on him”.[/quote]

    That last quote was from Vice Consul Snyder at the US Embassy in Moscow. Snyder had been a “spotter” at Harvard for the CIA Redskin Program – and imo, was still CIA at the time of Oswald’s visit. In any case, there was a Harvard student in Snyder’s office when Oswald came to renounce his citizenship. His name was Ed (sometimes known as “Ned”) Keenan. Anyone with Newman’s book can find him mentioned in it. Keenan was made “persona non grata” in the Soviet Union in 1962 over allegations of spying and there is no doubt whatsoever that Keenan had been one of the Redskin Agents “spotted” at Harvard by Snyder. Unfortunately, Newman was unaware of all this at the time he interviewed him for his book. Could his presence there at the same time as Oswald was also there be a coincidence? Sure. But was it? I think there are greater chances of flying pigs.

    Jeff, your whole “incompetence” theory is “safe” and non-threatening in a limited hang-out kind of way. But if I am right about Snyder and Keenan… then “incompetence” isn’t a tenable theory.

    1. I emphasize CIA’s negligence in handling intelligence about Oswald not because it is “safe” but because is evident, obvious, and proven.

      My description of the CIA’s doesn’t preclude more sinister possibilities. Rather it illuminates what we don’t know: why senior CIA and FBI officials made decisions that protected Oswald in late 1963.

      It also avoids the tired conspiracy-lone nut discourse, which hasn’t moved the dial of public opinion in decades. The vast majority of people don’t believe the official story. They don’t want another conspiracy theory. We have too many of those and most of them are wrong. People want a credible explanation.

      As I pointed out in my post, “Conspiracy theories are a mug’s game,” the obsession with proving/refuting conspiracy theories has become a distraction that plays into the hands of those who would prefer to avoid or deny.

      Let’s not theorize. Let’s describe what is in the historical record. We know there was CIA negligence. Now we need to know its causes.

      1. Jeff, I beg to disagree. Your description of what you see in the record is your theory about it, and denies the alternative explanation that the CIA actions were deliberate.

        There is a whole history of CIA “negligence” which lo and behold resulted in exactly what the WH and/or the CIA wanted.

        1. The Bogotazo in Columbia, 1948. CIA director Hillenkoetter had to explain CIA failure in that one. By the end of the explanation, the CIA was granted greater autonomy, Latin America was virtual lockstep with US aims of anti-communism, and a much feared independent thinking liberal was exterminated. That’s quite some result for negligence.

        2.Next was the Korean War… does the result of that negligence need explaining?

        3. The Hungarian Uprising… another “intelligence failure” that resulted in exactly what was wanted – provoking the Soviet Union into retaliation. I show the document where that aim is explicitly stated.

        And even before the CIA came along, there was the Pearl Harbor intelligence failure which again resulted in exactly what was wanted – an excuse to enter into WWII.

        So I agree with you about the facts… up to calling CIA actions in certain incidents “negligence”. That part is your theory.

        Any discussion about CIA actions / inactions involving Oswald are missing a vital ingredient if such discussions fail to take into account Snyder’s CIA role and Ed Keenan’s presence during Oswald’s “renunciation” of citizenship. What I have presented is factual and has to be dealt with – even if – unlike me – you’re willing to go down the Giant Coincidence road.

        1. Where did I deny that that the CIA’s actions were deliberate? I didn’t. To say there was provabable criminal negligence isn’t a theory. Its documented. And say there was negligence doesn’t preclude the possibility of conspiracy. It just reflects my view that you can’t prove conspiracy on the part of any particular CIA employee. “Conspiracy,” after all, is a crime that requires proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a very high standard of proof. I think the whole discourse of “conspiracy theories” is a “mug’s game” and a favor to denialists, apologiests, and evaders, as I explain in this post. That’s why I stay away from it.

          Since I’m a journalist, not a prosecutor, I don’t feel obliged to meet the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. We journalists publish stories all the time that are based on a more commensensical standard of proof: the preponderance of evidence. That’s my standard in the JFK case.

          You may find this excessively legalistic. But I find that strict adherence to such standards gives me credibility and access to major media platforms that usually reject any critical stance on the JFK story: The New York Times, (which finally acknowledge extreme secrecy that still prevails around Oswald) The Washington Post (where I published the first interview with a CIA officer who had pre-assassination knowledge of Oswald), and (where I laid out “What Can We Do about JFK’s Murder?).

          As for Great Coincidences, they do occur in life but they are not credible in the JFK story. You can look at my writings over the last 25 years and you will find no instances in which I subscribed to Coincidence Theories.

  6. Factually-challenged, CIA-connected, journalist Peter Landesman


    Landesman was a foreign correspondent for the NY Times who had the veracity of his stories continually questioned by other journalists. All his stories have intelligence fingerprints on them and he seems to be part of an Operation Mockingbird Part Two. The subject of his stories always seem to get arrested after the articles are published. Anyway, I just stumbled onto this stuff the other day and found the links fascinating as you can follow the trail to where it leads in the last two links.

    “Ever since the Cold War broke out between the U.S. and Russia, Hollywood has had a fascination with international espionage and the CIA, a government agency whom conspiracy theorists love because they can blame them for almost everything.”

    “The script is by Peter Landesman. Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Scott Z. Burns will produce with McLarty Media, the showbiz consulting arm of D.C.-based international advisory firm McLarty Associates.”

    So Kissinger and McLarty will now be producing, not consulting, on a big budget film where the antagonist is the leftist movement’s FARC, the notorious enemy of their client, the Colombian Government.
    {Kissinger himself will not be able to do international press for the film as he is wanted for questioning for war crimes by a dozen nations.}
    Max Holland of course runs the CIA’s website and produced the discredited “The Lost Bullet” for NatGeo.

    “It’s the one that Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman set up about the real Deep Throat, former FBI number two Mark Felt, based on his memoirs. A script is in by journalist/screenwriter Peter Landesman and ‘Game Change’ and ‘Recount’ director Jay Roach is ready to helm it, with Hanks a possibility to play Felt. ”

    Which all leads to this announcement a few weeks back:

    Advising Landesman on the production as a consultant is former CIA officer Robert Grenier who during his career was assistant deputy director of the CIA for counterterrorism and an undercover field agent in Pakistan and Afghanistan, adding that extra layer of verisimilitude.

    I am sure “Parkland” with help from the Bugliosi book and the CIA will bury the JFK Assassination Research community for decades if successful.

  7. I wasn’t surprised when Hanks et al changed direction and decided to create a drama based on the events at Parkland Hospital, rather than the previously considered 10 part series based upon the entirety of Bugliosi’s book. I’d anxiously awaited the release of Bugiosi’s book, and was incredibly disappointed when it came out. I spotted a lot of mistakes. I then noticed that many of these mistakes formed a pattern. This, then, led me to author a long chapter or short book, take your pick, in which I go through Bugliosi’s citations regarding the shooting one by one and prove beyond any doubt that he’d repeatedly misrepresented witness statements, ignored Warren Commission exhibits, and blew large volumes of smoke in order to pretend the evidence suggests the first shot missed.

    The name of this chapter is “Vincent Bugliosi is the Real Oliver Stone,” should anyone be interested.

  8. What a pathetic joke. There is so much information now available on JFK’s assassination, there is no reason for a poorly educated Hollywood actor to advance this poorly researched piece of fiction. Americans deserve better. The truth will set this nation free, and it won’t come from a couple of CIA hacks.

    1. Agree. We now know that the US CIA Castro Assassination team recalled by JFK’s order to stand-down the Cuban Brigade was then turned on the Pres. by the CIA as payback this edict and for JFK threat to break agency “into 1000 pieces” after Bay of Pigs debacle.

      Please don’t let Warren Commission fiction hood-wink the public.

  9. I was reading phone transcripts last night between LBJ and J.Edgar Hoover. They were dated the 23rd or 24th of November and Hoover clearly states that the man in Mexico didn’t look like Oswald nor did the voice match. He states that it is a “different man”. What do you make of that? The transcript is part of the LBJ library and seems as a credible source.

  10. Never, NEVER has a more qualified man written a book about the assassination then Mr. Bugliosi. This man was a gifted prosecutor who’s job was to examine and determine evidence that could have a man executed. This man’s only agenda was the truth and that’s exactly what he told in his book..the truth. He didn’t look at any new evidence because there is no NEW evidence (or old for that matter)of a conspiracy. The only REAL evidence in this case convicts Oswald 10 times over. Oswald’s rifle, eyewitnesses as Oswald murders a policeman and then tries to shoot another upon arrest.Every possible sign of a “conscienceness of guilt” does Oswald exude. It’s amazing how people ignore all of this damning evidence yet they’ll belive Oswald saying “I’m a patsy” Oswald was no more a CIA agent than I was. What if he didn’t get hired at the TSBD ? Or sent to work in the other building they had ? Or if Mr Truly had laid him off like he was supposed to. Was Truly involved too ? There is nothing fantastic about Oswald shooting the President..a crime of opportunity. What’s fantastic are these insane theories.

    1. BluesDude: Your faith in Vince is touching, and I agree he’s a very capable man and ‘Helter Skelter’ is a hell of book. But when it comes to JFK, I think Vince failed to do what he did very well in his war crimes case against George W. Bush: put a political crime into its political and legal context. In the JFK story, rather than acting as a prosecutor of a homicide case, Vince acted as a prosecutor of conspiracy theorists. As you state:

      He didn’t look at any new evidence because there is no NEW evidence (or old for that matter)of a conspiracy.

      But Vince’s failure to look at new evidence cripples his case. He hasn’t taken the time to look carefully at the CIA men who knew the most about Oswald before JFK was killed. At we don’t have a crazy conspiracy theory. I personally have a negligence theory, though I admits its unproven. I think some top CIA officials were criminally negligent in JFK’s death, including counterintelligence chief James Angleton and deputy director Richard Helms. I explain my views in “What Can We Do About JFK’s Murder?” for

      What’s your theory?

    2. Hi BluesDude. While I agree with you that Mr. Bugliosi is a “gifted prosecutor,” I have to respectfull disagree with you on his assertions that Oswald acted alone. Have you read any other books on the assassination? If so, which ones? If not, I would ask you to please do so. Read both sides with an open mind and then come back here and let us know if you still believe Oswald acted alone in murdering the President. If I may, I’d like to suggest Sylvia Meagher’s “Accessories After the Fact” and Mark Lane’s “Rush to Judgment.” Those two books are good places to start when it comes to conspiracy books.

      As for the original post by Mr. Morley, I’d like to say I’m disappointed that Tom Hanks would take on such a project, and sad that Bugliosi’s sham of a book would be chosen as the basis of a movie. It’s a shame that even after all these years people are still lining up to back a theory of the crime that even some of the Warren Commissioners themselves didn’t believe.

      1. How on earth can you claim ‘rush to judgement’ is a credible piece of work ? Mark Lane can’t even honestly place two men in a car, in their exact seating positions ! Have you seen how he distorted Mrs Marham’s account ? Bugliosi builds the best case against Oswald yet, and i’ve read close to 100 books on this, and nothing comes close to Bugliosi’s book. I’ll wager 99% of people who pan it, like the warren report, have never read it.

        1. Mark lane took the first great step in exposing who shot JFK…Lane was on the trail and realized the real evidence was being destroyed or concealed. Without his Rush to Judgment time would have stood still for many years. Think about it researchers cannot still get hold of valuable documents. Sealed!!! Where is the truth…it is a very small island surrounded by a sea or lies. Oswald is what he claims a Patsy. If RFK had become president the truth would have been exposed…that is why he was murdered

    3. richard bittner

      The Zapruder film presents conclusive evidence of MORE THAN ONCE ASSASSIN. You are obviously suffering from some mental or perceptual defect as is bulosi and hanks and any others who support the earren commissions conclusion.. More than one assassin…that’s all we know for sure…

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