Lisa Pease’s six-page diatribe against me and my recent book Mary’s Mosaic is, at the very least, a marvel of subjective distortion and shoddy criticism, fueled by her own personal vendetta that someone dared not follow her as she, and her partner James DiEugenio, have attempted over the years to appoint themselves as the ultimate "guardians of truth" in all things Kennedy (see here).
And as usual, Lisa Pease’s only fallback source in her vain attempts to substantiate anything she writes is James DiEugenio, whom she seems to always regard as unassailable. Together, nothing that these two write can ever be challenged or debated – without one of them launching some kind of personal diatribe against anyone who challenges it, establishing a different opinion. Indeed, during his last appearance on Len Osanic’s Black Ops Radio program (June 28, 2012), DiEugenio gushes over "Lisa Pease’s wonderful – and I really think it’s a really wonderful piece of work . . . because it’s done in her usual very intelligent, very elegant, very incisive kind of a style. And I’m going to be doing Part II to which I am actually working on right now . . ." We wait with bated breadth.
What’s particularly revealing in Pease’s latest piece of writing is that she first announces to her readers that she "check[s] every fact, . . . dare[ing] the author to prove his case to me," and then goes on to continue (along with her partner DiEugenio) to make the absurd claim that JFK was not a womanizer, or sexually promiscuous, but always "adorable and sweet," (quoting Angela Greene). We are now, after years of revelation by such authors as Ralph Martin, Seymour Hersh, Nigel Hamilton, and Presidential historians Michael Beschloss and Robert Dallek – to say nothing of the women who have come forward (the most recent is Mimi Beardsley Alford in 2012) – supposed to go on believing "The Doctrine of Pease and DiEugenio" that this was all just a "Republican Party" or "CIA" plot to discredit President Kennedy. Following "the two McCarthyites of the JFK assassination research community," as one researcher recently put it, is like walking into a never-ending fantasy world of ignorance, hopefully having been convinced that the real truth has just been dispensed, when all that has taken place in this case is Pease’s fabricating evidence in order to gin up "facts" to support her delusions.
I am not going to try your patience as a reader by writing six pages of rebuttal, though I easily could take issue with every aspect of Pease’s tangled web of claims where she can’t even correctly restate what I wrote. Indeed, it becomes clear that Pease’s greatest talent is attempting to bestow upon her readers her own vitriolic projections that have no basis or understanding of fact. In doing so, she identifies herself as an intolerant critic who must torture (and therefore misconstrue) the facts in an effort to win an argument, so typical of a fanatical mindset that can’t consider any real alternative other than its own projections.
And so, despite the fact that there was absolutely no forensic evidence whatsoever (as documented in the FBI Crime Report, which was withheld from the defense until the beginning of the trial nine months after the murder) linking Ray Crump, Jr. to the bloody crime scene or to the body of Mary Pinchot Meyer, Lisa Pease wants her readers to believe, as she does, that Ray Crump was actually guilty, because some of the clothes he was wearing that day matched what eyewitness Henry Wiggins, Jr. saw when he viewed the man standing over Meyer’s body within 30 seconds after the two gunshots had ended her life. Wiggins was 126.5 feet away from the murder scene. This was all documented in 1200 pages of trial transcript, something that Pease fails to mention to her readers, because she never read or studied it.
Still, Pease omnisciently claims that in viewing just one picture of Ray Crump in my book, she (and she alone) has decided to proclaim that Crump does, in fact, have a "medium build," and that Wiggins’ description is completely accurate. Wiggins obviously saw somebody who wore similar clothes to Crump that day, but I maintain it wasn’t Ray Crump. Then, ignoring everyone else’s disposition toward Crump, including his attorney Dovey Roundtree, public defenders George Peter Lamb and Ted O’Neill, and anyone else who actually had contact with Crump at the time of the murder, Pease becomes convinced he was only acquitted because he had "a very astute lawyer." Never mind the lack of any real evidence, or the fact she was shot execution-style with a gun that was never recovered, or that no one in Ray Crump’s family or community had ever seen Crump with any firearm. To further make her case, Pease invokes the authority of author Nina Burleigh, who like Pease is sure of Ray Crump’s guilt, but who can’t even correctly document the jury’s composition, in addition to a number of other important neglected facts.
Then, hanging her hat on the fact that because Crump lied (he was concealing a tryst with a married woman) about why he was in the vicinity of the towpath that morning, this is further proof to Pease of Crump’s guilt. Our Dick Cheneyesque "cherry-picker" of facts then takes her distorted proclamations even further. Creating her own testimony, Pease suppresses that Crump had an organic brain impairment before the murder took place and that he was actively alcoholic, which in the perception of his attorney Dovey Roundtree made him “incapable of clear communication, incapable of complex thought, incapable of grasping the full weight of his predicament, incapable most of all, of a murder executed with the stealth and precision and forethought of Mary Meyer’s [murder].” (Mary’s Mosaic, p. 318).
Further accusing me of concealing the fact that Crump had a criminal record before the Meyer murder (which consisted of the unspeakable, heinous crime of having been twice arrested for disorderly conduct, along with having served a 60-day jail sentence for shoplifting – all of which I mention on page 53), Ms. Pease wants her followers to believe that because of Crump’s subsequent career in crime, this is the ultimate sine qua non proof of Ray Crump’s having murdered Mary Meyer. The only thing that becomes clear here is that any psychological understanding and sophistication of the human condition completely eludes Lisa Pease; she’s unable to comprehend how an already psychologically impaired individual subjected to continued abuse over a nine-month period in jail (which according to his attorney Dovey Roundtree likely included sexual assaults) could damage someone to the point of becoming a hardened criminal. And so in Pease’s fantasy world, nothing matters (or is able to be grasped) except her distorted perception of her own opinions that have no real basis in factual evidence.
But not yet content, Pease wants her supporters to believe that all of this "illustrates Janney’s shortcomings as a researcher." She goes on to attempt to prove that I next have "distorted the math" and time intervals in showing that there was a second "Negro male" eluding capture by police immediately following Meyer’s murder. Either Pease didn’t read carefully what I wrote, or she is intellectually challenged by the English language. In either case, she proves only one thing: she hasn’t read the trial transcript. Indeed, her own shortcomings as a researcher won’t even allow her to be factually accurate when quoting what I wrote. "Detective Warner arrested Crump at 1:15pm," writes Pease, which is not only incorrect (and not what I wrote), but reveals how little Pease actually understood what she read.
Very simply (Mary’s Mosaic, pp. 122-128), I demonstrate through an extensive study of the trial transcript, and in an interview with police officer Roderick Sylvis for this book, how he and his partner Frank Bignotti arrived at Fletcher’s Boat House at approximately 12:30pm in order to block the exits of anyone trying to leave the towpath area. That’s what they were supposed to do: wait in their patrol car and guard the exits, a concept that Lisa Pease again is unable to grasp. They waited for about "four or five minutes" and then began hatching a plan whereby Sylvis would begin walking eastward toward the murder scene via the towpath and Bignotti would do the same along the adjacent railroad bed and woods that separated the two. This planning and positioning of themselves, according to Sylvis, took another five minutes or so. We are now at approximately 12:40pm. As soon as they started out, the two officers spotted a young while couple walking westward on the railroad tracks, who they then approached and began talking to. In an interview with Sylvis in 2008, I asked him specifically how long this interrogation had taken. "At least five minutes, probably more," said Sylvis. It is now conservatively past 12:45pm, and very possibly later, approaching 1:00pm, before the two officers start their journey eastward toward the murder scene.
Sylvis told the court that he walked "approximately a mile east on the towpath, at which point he saw "a head jut out of the woods momentarily, just for a second . . ." (Mary’s Mosaic, p.123). When I queried Sylvis about how long it took to walk the mile, he was very clear that he had walked "very slowly" and vigilantly, intermittently stopping to peer into the woods, and periodically calling out to his partner Frank Bignotti. During the interview, Sylvis told me he had to be have been walking for "about twenty minutes." In my book, I gave him the benefit of doubt and stated that "it has to have been at least fifteen minutes or more" (p. 123), before he spotted the head of a second "Negro male." That meant that the time was likely to be at the very least 1:15pm (the time Ray Crump was arrested, seven tenths of mile away) and likely significantly later.
Yet in Lisa Pease’s reverie, this too becomes incomprehensible for her to grasp. Furthermore, Ray Crump – according to the trial transcript – was already in the company of Detective John Warner sometime before 1:15pm at a location of one tenth of a mile east of the murder scene. I maintain that it could have been as much as ten to fifteen minutes before 1:15pm that Warner first spotted Crump (who Warner said "wasn’t running" when he first spotted the about-to-be defendant), before he started interrogating him – first asking him to produce his driver’s license, which Warner studied, then asking him a series of seven questions, before deciding that he would walk with Crump to his alleged fishing spot in order to help him retrieve his fishing gear that Crump said had fallen into the Potomac River. The trial transcript repeatedly documents that Crump was officially arrested at approximately 1:15pm by Detective Bernie Crooke, but he was in the company of Detective Warner before that time. Therefore, the "Negro male" spotted by officer Sylvis, who successfully eluded capture by police, couldn’t have been the defendant Ray Crump. This isn’t rocket science, but for the challenged Lisa Pease, it’s too much to tolerate, given her desperation to find some way to discredit me, whereby she finally resorts to attacking my educational credentials.
In addition, Ms. Pease can’t even seem to fathom or consider how "Lt. William L. Mitchell," a man who told police he was jogging on the towpath when he passed Mary Meyer – allegedly just before the murder took place – told police that a "Negro male" matching Wiggins’ description was following her in an effort to frame Ray Crump. "Mitchell" would then testify against Crump at the murder trial nine months later in July 1965 as part of the CIA’s assassination operation. It doesn’t seem to matter to Pease that "Mitchell" has never been able to be located since the trial, or that his known address during that time was documented as a "CIA safe house" by three separate former CIA employees. At the time of trial in July 1965, Mitchell told a reporter that he had since retired from the military and was now a mathematics instructor at Georgetown University – yet no record of his employment there could ever be located, nor was there ever any bona-fide military service record located for "Mitchell," either in the Pentagon where he was listed in the directory at the time of the murder, or in the main military data base in St. Louis. This was thoroughly researched by the Peabody Award-winning journalist Roger Charles, as discussed in my book, a fact that Pease fails to mention in one of her many deliberate omissions, which also included Damore’s consultation with L. Fletcher Prouty (as documented by Damore’s attorney James H. Smith) to finally understand who "Mitchell" was, before Damore confronted him. Of course, Lisa Pease is entitled to whatever flawed point of view she wants to embrace, but she’s not entitled to her own set of facts.
The rest of Pease’s long-winded misstatements criticizing author Leo Damore, Timothy Leary, Robert Morrow, Gregory Douglas and other sources who I attempted to unravel – explicitly noting their deficiencies and limitations – completely obfuscates the clarity of the emerging picture: Placed in a larger context, and juxtaposed with firm documentation, the aggregate unfolding scenario clearly indicates that Mary Meyer’s life was ended by a CIA assassination. But in the Pease-DiEugenio fantasy world, people are either all white or all black, complete truth-tellers or liars, completely reliable or unreliable. There are no shades of grey; there is no ambiguity; and there is no room for the analysis of intricacy and complexity.
And this is why the Pease-DiEugenio brand of journalistic sophistication (or lack thereof) can’t seem to fathom how JFK advisor Kenneth P. O’Donnell could somehow go on the official record after the 1976 National Enquirer exposé about the Meyer-Kennedy affair and defend the shining Camelot myth in his attempt to negate that there had been a romantic affair between Mary Pinchot Meyer and President Kennedy; yet only a year later, shortly before his death, confide to author Leo Damore some of the intimate details of their relationship. In the same way that O’Donnell never talked publically about how the FBI had discounted his testimony that the Presidential motorcade in Dallas was driving into an ambush where at least two shots had come "from behind the fence [on the grassy knoll]," in front of the motorcade, O’Donnell only mentioned this reality to insiders, which was confirmed twenty-five years later by Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill in his 1987 memoir Man of The House. Both Leo Damore and his attorney James H. Smith worked on one of O’Donnell’s Massachusetts gubernatorial campaigns where the three had become good friends. Yet Lisa Pease can’t fathom that there were many things O’Donnell didn’t want to share publically, and would only confide privately to the people he trusted.
Fabricating evidence is a fatal error for any kind of investigative reporter or critic. What kind of a mindset (or person) would do this? Only a callow, dogmatic "true believer" in the childish Camelot myth, who cannot tolerate being challenged, resorts to a riddled analysis that is filled with factual errors and deliberate omissions and misstatements. This episode in their increasingly virulent and intolerant criticism is both tragic and unfortunate, because some (but not all) of the work of Pease and DiEugenio has made a significant contribution to JFK assassination historical research.
For example, James DiEugenio’s deconstruction of Chris Matthew’s recent book on JFK was an insightful analysis of a flawed work. In addition, DiEugenio and Pease together edited a useful anthology of articles on the assassinations of the 1960s. However, what they have done to Mary’s Mosaic is all too similar to what they do to other first-time authors writing about the JFK assassination: they delight in subjecting those who dare to write about the Kennedy assassination (in a way that conflicts with their own historical interpretations) to the "CTKA buzz-saw."
So, readers and followers beware (those of you who have the patience to read many of their long and pompous reviews): these two Los Angelinos have an extremely inflated opinion of their own importance in the JFK assassination debate. Fortunately, books last; and reviews are forgotten weeks after they are written (if not sooner). Moreover, we are living in the 21st century. In spite of the fact that Pease and DiEugenio would surely resurrect book burnings for those works of which they disapprove – establishing a modern-day JFK assassination Index Librorum Prohibitorum if they could do so –modern-day JFK researchers and the American public do not hunger for another Torquemada or Cardinal Bellarmine. I dare say that if Pease and DiEugenio had been in charge of Galileo’s heresy trial in Rome, he would have been sentenced to burn at the stake, instead of to the life imprisonment (house arrest) levied on him by the Holy Office.
July 6, 2012
Peter Janney grew up in Washington, DC, during the 1950s and 1960s. His father was a high-ranking CIA official and a close friend of Richard Helms, James Jesus Angleton, and Mary’s husband, Cord Meyer. His mother and Mary Meyer were classmates at Vassar College.
Copyright © 2012 Peter Janney