Prouty was in New Zealand when Kennedy was shot, and believed that the Christchurch Star reported on Oswald's background far too quickly. It smelled to him like a CIA-planted cover story. Researcher David Perry looked at this issue to see whether the initial reports on Oswald and his background contained any suspicious information. He found that all the information in the paper was available in the files of U.S. newspapers and ready to be quickly sent over the news wires. And Bob Cotton, Chief Reporter of the Christchurch Star, has explained how the paper they published that day was the result of journalistic diligence, and not conspiratorial machinations.
Proutyism #1 Where Was Nixon During the Shooting?
The Prouty VersionWe have noted in an earlier chapter that, despite frequent denials, Richard Nixon was in Dallas during those fateful moments, attending a meeting with executives of the Pepsi-Cola Company. According to the general counsel of that company, Nixon and the others in the room knelt in a brief prayer when they heard of Kennedy's death. JFK, The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy, p. 310.
The RealityFormer Vice President Richard M. Nixon, who left Dallas only a few hours before President Kennedy was shot to death on a city street, had made a prophetic plea for the chief executive's safety
Mr. Nixon had urged a courteous reception for President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson in an interview printed in The Times Herald Thursday and in the first edition Friday.
The former vice president, who was defeated by President Kennedy in 1960, told The Times Herald by telephone from New York he was shocked and distressed by the news of the President's death.
He said he learned of the President's death while in a taxi driving from Idlewild Airport. He said a citizen ran into the street, hailed the cab not knowing who was inside and excitedly told him, "The President has been shot."
Dallas Times Herald, Nov. 23, 1963, p. A-7.
Proutyism #2 Presidential Protection
The Prouty VersionAs the presidential motorcade began its procession through the streets of Dallas, we note that many things which ought to have been done, as matters of standard security procedure, were not done. These omissions show the hand of the plotters and the undeniable fact that they were operating among the highest levels of government in order to have access to the channels necessary to arrange such things covertly.
Some of these omissions were simple things that were done normally without fail. All the windows in buildings overlooking a presidential motorcade route must be closed and observers positioned to see that they remain closed. They will have radios, and those placed on roofs will be armed in case gunmen do appear in the windows. All sewer covers along the streets are supposed to be welded to preclude the sewer's use as a gunman's lair. People with umbrellas, coats over their arms, and other items that could conceal a weapon are watched.
JFK, The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy, p. 291.
Just Last Week, He Wanted No Special GuardBy Edward Kirkman
Top city police with many years of experience in guarding Presidents and visiting heads of state said yesterday that President Kennedy took too many chances.
On Nov. 14 eight days before the assassin's bullet struck him down the President rode through New York City without a motorcycle escort and with fewer guards than police and the Secret Service wanted him to have.
Authorities believed that Kennedy was too responsive to criticism for his own good.
Heavily Guarded Until Last WeekA frequent visitor to New York City, the President until last week had been heavily guarded, had a motorcycle escort, and traveled heavily-guarded streets which had been cleared of other traffic to make way from him.
There were those who spoke disparagingly of the interruption of normal living occasioned by the President's visits, and this disturbed him.
Small Guard Not Enough for SafetyHe insisted last week that there be no motorcycle escort and that his motorcade stop for traffic lights. His principal protection on the ride from LaGuardia Field to the Hotel Caryle, 76th and Madison Ave., was two city police cars in front of his limousine and one car with Secret Service men immediately behind the limousine.
During the ride into Manhattan, cars containing newsmen on occasion came dangerously close to the side of the President's car before being waved off. While the President's car was stopped for a red light at 72d St. and Madison Ave., an amateur photographer stepped up close and took pictures before he was chased off.
All this was clear evidence to security men that the small guard insisted upon by the President was not adequate to insure his safety.
Queried on this point, Police Commissioner Michael Murphy officially said, "No comment." But those close to him knew that he and his top brass and the Secret Service were deeply concerned.
New York Daily News, Nov. 23, 1963.
What About People Who Actually Know about Motorcades?After leaving the position of Press Secretary for President Eisenhower, James Haggerty went to work for a division of ABC. So it was no surprise when he turned up on ABC's coverage of the assassination. About 2:18 CST on the afternoon of the assassination, the subject of presidential protection came up. Haggerty said:
I have seen many motorcades. . . . A rifle shot . . . from a window of a building is pretty hard to guard against.About twenty minutes later, after interruptions for breaking news, he continues:
In a large city it is impossible to guard every single window. In the years that I served with General Eisenhower, the only time I ever saw all windows guarded in the line of march was in Tehran, when President Eisenhower went to visit the Shah of Iran . . . . That was the only time I saw that.When Fletcher Prouty and other conspiracy authors tell us that security was "stripped away" in Dallas, they sound plausible enough. Unfortunately, plenty of "plausible" propositions happen to be untrue.
The video at right, from the documentary "JFK: One PM Central Standard Time, shows JFK in Berlin. The motorcade route was lined with buildings with open windows and enthusiastic onlookers, as was the site where he gave his famous speech.
The voice over at the end of the clip is former President Bill Clinton.
Unfortunately, Prouty's ideas have little to do with what the Secret Service actually did particularly with a very politically attuned president like Kennedy.
When Kennedy toured Ireland his motorcade wound down Patrick Street, in Cork. As in Dallas, windows were open over the route, and spectators were in the windows. Elliot Perry brought this photo, from the National Archives, to my attention.
The National Archives' collection includes many newsreel films of Kennedy's public appearances. Many of them show people in open windows above his motorcades, appearances, and so on.
Fuhrmann later posted a longer, much more detailed analysis of Prouty's JFK book, debunking Prouty's treatment of issue after issue. Here are his Compuserve posts, included here with Fuhrmann's permission.
Proutyism #3 Army Intelligence Told to "Stand Down"One of the most quoted assertions of L. Fletcher Prouty is the claim that an Army Intelligence unit the 316th Field Detachment of the 112th Military Intelligence Group was ordered to "stand down" and provide no additional security for Kennedy's Texas visit.
The Prouty VersionThe commander of an army unit, specially trained in protection . . . had been told he and his men would not be needed in Dallas. "Another Army unit will cover that city," the commander was told.
I called a member of that army unit later. I was told that the commander "had offered the services of his unit for protection duties for the entire trip through Texas," that he was "point-blank and categorically refused by the Secret Service," and that "there were hot words between the agencies."
This leaves an important question: Why was the assistance of this skilled and experienced unit "point-blank refused?" Who knew ahead of time that it would not be wanted in Dallas?
L. Fletcher Prouty: JFK, The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy, p. 294.
The RealityThe House Select Committee on Assassinations took testimony from Colonel Robert E. Jones, who had been the Operations Officer of the 112th Military Intelligence group from June, 1963 until January 1965. He was questioned about a variety of matters, including his unit's role in the protection of President Kennedy during his Texas trip. Not only did Jones not mention any orders to "stand down," he explicitly noted that his unit provided protection for the president in Dallas! He stated:
We provided a small force I do not recall how many, but I would estimate between 8 and 12 during the President's visit to San Antonio, Texas; and then the following day, on his visit to Dallas, the regions also provided additional people to assist, that is additional people from Region 2. Hearings Before the Subcommittee on the Assassination of John F. Kennedy of the Select Committee on Assassinations, House of Representatives, Executive Session, Washington, DC., April 20, 1978, p. 1-14.Prouty's claim is thus flatly at odds with the on-the-record sworn testimony of the Operations Officer of the unit. Like so many of his claims, it just doesn't jibe with the historical record.
Proutyism #4 Assassins Shooting Blanks?
The Prouty Version. . . Although the gunmen [in Dealey Plaza] may have used "automatic" weapons, it is more likely that what the reporters heard that day was the well-coordinated fire from at least three gunmen in different locations, and that they fired at least three times each.
This is an old firing-squad and professional hit-man ploy. It serves to remove the certain responsibility from each gunner as a psychological cleanser. If three men are to fire, they all know that two guns are loaded and one gun is firing blanks. The gunmen do not know who had the bullets, or who had the blanks. Each man can swear an oath that he was not the killer.
L. Fletcher Prouty: JFK, The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy, pp. 307-308.
The RealityIn how many different ways is the Prouty scenario ludicrous?
Thanks to Gary Nivaggi for point (3.) above, and to Brian Dasher for point (1.)
I continue to be surprised to find Fletcher Prouty quoted as an authority. He was my "cross to bear" before Dan Ellsberg came along. Fletch is the one who blandly told the London Times that I'd invented the Huk Rebellion, hired a few actors in Manila, bussed them out to Pampanga, and staged the whole thing as press agentry to get RM [Magsaysay] elected. He was a good pilot of prop-driven aircraft, but had such a heavy dose of paranoia about CIA when he was on my staff that I kicked him back to the Air Force. He was one of those who thought I was secretly running the Agency from the Pentagon, despite all the proof otherwise. (p. 384)Elsewhere, Lansdale comments on Prouty's "wacky imagination" (ibid.). As if to confirm what Lansdale says, Prouty claimed to see Lansdale in a photo of the three tramps under arrest in Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination!
Proutyism #5 George Bush Named Three Ships
The Prouty VersionRecently I interviewed former CIA liaison officer L. Fletcher Prouty. He is a consultant for the excellent new movie on how the CIA killed JFK, being made by Oliver Stone. He told me that one of the projects he did for the CIA was in 1961 to deliver US Navy ships from a Navy ship yard to the CIA agents in Guatemala planning the invasion of Cuba. He said he delivered three ships to a CIA agent named George Bush, who had the 3 ships painted to look like they were civilian ships. That CIA agent then named the 3 ships after: his wife, his home town and his oil company. He named the ships: Barbara, Houston & Zapata. Any book on the history of the Bay of Pigs will prove the names of those 3 ships. Again, this is more finger prints of George Bush's involvement in the Bay of Pigs invasion. Yet Bush denies his role in this great adventure. Why would Bush be so shy about his role in this war? What is the secret? Is there something dirty about this war that Bush & Nixon don't want the public to know about? (Source: "The Kennedy Assassination: The Nixon-Bush Connection" by Paul Kangas. Originally published in The Realist.)
The RealityProuty's story is absurd on several levels. Thanks to solid research by Jim Olmstead and Gordon Winslow, we know the following:
Finally, the Assassination Records Review Board looked into the claim that George Bush was a CIA agent, and found the following:
A November 29, 1963, memorandum from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover
to the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the
Department of State refers to the fact that information on the
assassination of President Kennedy was "orally furnished to Mr. George
Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency." At the request of the Review
Board, the CIA made a thorough search of its records in an attempt to
determine if the "George Bush" referred to in the memorandum might be
identical to President and former Director of Central Intelligence
George Herbert Walker Bush. That search determined that the CIA had no
association with George Herbert Walker Bush during the time frame
referenced in the document. (Source: Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board, September 1998.)
A November 29, 1963, memorandum from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the Department of State refers to the fact that information on the assassination of President Kennedy was "orally furnished to Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency." At the request of the Review Board, the CIA made a thorough search of its records in an attempt to determine if the "George Bush" referred to in the memorandum might be identical to President and former Director of Central Intelligence George Herbert Walker Bush. That search determined that the CIA had no association with George Herbert Walker Bush during the time frame referenced in the document. (Source: Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board, September 1998.)
| Prouty the Political Activist|
Actor Donald Sutherland (below, right) played a mysterious "Mr. X" in the movie JFK. The inspiration for "Mr. X" is none other than L. Fletcher Prouty. This is not an inference or supposition. Oliver Stone introduced Prouty to the National Press Club as the man who was the basis for "Mr. X," and many of this mysterious figure's words are almost verbatim from Prouty. However, some of Prouty's political connections were not the sort that would find favor among politically-active Hollywood leftists nor indeed among sensible people.
The following is taken from Edward J. Epstein's The Assassination Chronicles.
Aside from advising Oliver Stone, Prouty is also extremely active with other conspiracy-hunters. He served, for example, as editorial adviser to publications of the futuristic Church of Scientology; as a consultant to the far right Lyndon LaRouche Organization, who also provided its convention with a presentation comparing the U.S. government's prosecution of Lyndon LaRouche (for mail fraud) "to the persecution of Socrates"; a board member of the Populist Action Committee, where he joined Robert Weems, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and John Rarick, the organizer of the White Citizens Council; and as a featured speaker for the anti-civil rights organization called the Liberty Lobby, whose founder, Willis Carto, also set up the Institute for Historic Review, a disseminator of books and videotapes that allege that the Nazi death camps in Europe were fictions devised by Zionist propaganda to justify tax money being donated to Israel. (It also published Prouty's own book, The Secret Team: the CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World.)
Prouty not only could produce no documents, he backed away from many of his claims, according to an ARRB record of the interview. According to the ARRB (quoting):