| Book Reviews / MRS. PAINE'S GARAGE
A Work of Deception From Beginning to End
James H. Fetzer
[Editor's Note: The reasons Thomas Mallon undertook this work related to
the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are truly obscure.
Although the book is subtitled, "AND THE MURDER OF JFK", virtually
every page reveals his incompetentce to deal with this subject.
While it was not written as a novel, it is a work of fiction. ]
The DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE (10 March 2002), p. 6F, has published a review of a book by one Thomas Mallon, MRS. PAINE'S GARAGE (Pantheon Books, 2002), writted by George Bennett of Cox News Service. Bennett's fawning praise provides conclusive proof that he knows no more about the assassination of John F. Kennedy than does Mallon himself. Most Americans today, alas!, the majority of whom were not even alive at the time of his death, are sufficiently ignorant about the history of this case to be easily deceived. Those who know more will recognize it as a work of deception from beginning to end.
Interest in this slender volume implicitly emanates from the proposition that Ruth H. Paine assisted Lee Oswald, the alleged assassin, obtain a position at the Texas School Book Depository PRIOR TO public knowledge that the President was coming to Dallas. Since the extraordinarily vague affidavit she submitted on 22 November 1963, with which this book begins, implies this occurred in mid-October, while announcements of the trip appeared NO LATER than 13 September, such a contention is simply false.
Once recognizing that there was ample time to bring the patsy to the President, the entire Paine affair begins to assume an ominous visage. Interest in Paine's garage, for example, derives from Oswald having stored his Mannlicher-Carcano, wrapped in a blanket, in that place. But no remnants of having been wrapped in a blanket were ever discovered on the alleged assassination weapon--not the least hairs or fibers--which is very curious, indeed, had the weapon actually been stored there.
The alleged instrument, a cheap, mass-produced World War II Italian carbine, has a muzzle velocity of around 2,000 fps, which means that it is not a high-velocity weapon. Since the President's death certificates (1963), THE WARREN REPORT (1964), and even more recent articles in THE JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (1992) report that JFK was killed by high velocity bullets, it follows that he was not killed by Oswald's weapon, thereby greatly reducing interest in Mrs. Paine's garage.
Indeed, though it may come as news to the author, many other students of the case, including Harold Weisberg, WHITEWASH (1965), Peter Model and Robert Groden, JFK: THE CASE FOR CONSPIRACY(1976), and Robert Groden and Harrison Livingstone, HIGH TREASON(1989), have also made the same observation. These are not books cited in this study, however, which raises rather serious questions as to why someone whose knowledge of the assassination appears to be so meager would write a book about it.
He does not know that Oswald had a history with American intelligence; that Oswald was being "sheep dipped" in New Orleans; that Oswald was an informant for the FBI; that the "paper bag" story is a fabrication; that Oswald was in the lunch room on the second floor having a coke during the shooting; that Oswald passed a paraffin test; and on and on. A weightly body of evidence substantiates all of these discoveries, but none of them is even mentioned, much less disputed, by the author of this book.
The sources he does cite, moreover, are far from reassuring. His Acknowledgements, for example, lists six persons, including Mrs. Paine and her former husband, Michael, Priscilla Johnson McMillan and John McAdams. McAdams has gained a certain degree of notoriety for his one-sided defense of the "lone nut" hypothesis, which disregards overwhelming contradictory evidence, including proof that the "magic bullet" theory is not only false but anatomically impossible (Editor's note: See "The Lone Nutter Refutation" in this issue.).
Priscilla Johnson McMillan, however, is the most intriguing name on this list. It was she who "interviewed" Oswald on the occasion of his pseudo-defection to the Soviet Union; it was she who was selected by the United States government to accompany Stalin's daughter, Svetlana, when she defected to the United States; and it was she who was chosen to "baby sit" Marina during those turbulent times in the aftermath of the assassination. Her CIA connections virtually qualify as "common knowledge".
As Noel Twyman, BLOODY TREASON (1997), has observed, the Paines were introduced to the Oswalds by George de Mohrenschildt, a member of the Dallas Petrolium Club, a friend of H.L. Hunt, an ex-Nazi spy, and a CIA operative who would commit suicide when he was about to be interviewed for the HSCA reinvestigation in 1977-78. The connections between de Mohrenschildt and George Herbert Walker Bush have been extensively explored by Bruce Campbell Adamson, OSWALD'S CLOSEST FRIEND (1996). Any other author might have wanted to follow these leads, but not Thomas Mallon.
The book abounds with faulty comparisons and incomplete reports. Mallon remarks that Lee and Ruth were alike because they both had fathers in insurance, but does not observe that, unlike Lee, she did not have an uncle, Charles "Dutz" Murret, who worked for a Mafia chieftain, Carlos Marcello. And he belittles Marina's conclusion that Lee was framed, which diverged from her original position, without admitting she now knows vastly more about the assassination than was available to her then.
The skimpy information this book purports to provide that might be relevant to the assassination tends to exonerate Oswald. When Marina tells him in Russian that the President is coming, for example, he responds "with no more than an uninflected 'Da', a sort of verbal shrug most accurately translated as 'Uh, yeah.'" Taken at face value, that his hardly the type of response that one would expect from an ideologue whose strong beliefs would lead him to commit assassination.
Mallon reports that, on 21 November 1963, Lee tried to convince Marina that she should move back with him as early as tomorrow. That he should have worried about such things at this late date--the evening before the assassination!--does not harmonize with a man intent upon a capital crime from which he was most unlikely to emerge alive. And the very idea that he should have formulated the intention to commit such a monstrous deed on his way to work defies credulity!
The book to which it bears closest comparison appears to be OSWALD'S TALE (1995) Norman Mailer's unfortunate descent into psychobabble. Following Mailer's lead, Mallon takes massive liberties with conjectured reconstructions of the thoughts of Ruth, Marina, and even Lee, even when they were never expressed in English or in Russian. Mallon may have received Rockefeller and Guggenheim fellowships in the past, but--if there is any justice in academia!--that should never happen again.
Mallon predictably makes a point of introducing the alleged "backyard photographs" of Lee with his trusty Mannlicher-Carcano in one hand and Communist newspapers in the other, wearing the revolver with which he is alleged to have shot J.D. Tippit. Robert Groden, THE SEARCH FOR LEE HARVEY OSWALD (1995), pp. 90-95, offers a nice review of evidence that those photographs were faked, which has been confirmed in a study by Jack White. Using the known dimensions of the newspapers, White has proven the person shown in the photographs is too short to have been Oswald.
The book endorses the idea that Oswald was responsible for an alleged attempt on the life of Major General Edwin Walker that occurred on 10 April 1963. But there are many reasons to doubt it. The situations were very different: a high-powered 30.06 rifle versus a medium-to-low powered 6.5 mm carbine; a stationary versus moving target; a miss versus two hits out of three. It is difficult to imagine how their varied circumstances could have been less suggestive of a common shooter!
Unless, of course, their politics were similar--but Walker was a right-wing general, while Kennedy was a left-wing president. Kennedy had even relieved Walker of his command in Germany! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to conclude that these shootings were not performed by the same shooter. It does provide an opportunity for Thomas Mallon to compose another book. If Lee also had a 30.06, then he had to have stored it somewhere. We can now look forward to a sequel, MRS. PAINE'S ATTIC!
Mallon also asserts that, "Oswald took a bus and taxi back to his rooming house in Oak Cliffs, where he picked up the pistol that he used minutes later to kill the patrolman, J. D. Tippit, who stopped him at the corner of Tenth and Patton". If he were correct about this--Mallon offers no reason for thinking so!--then Oswald must have been the only assassin in history to make his escape by public transportation. He also ignores evidence that Tippit was shot with automatic(s) when Oswald was packing a revolver.
Readers may have difficulty reconciling how an author of a book published in 2002 could be so abysmally ignorant of the current state of knowledge about this case as published, for example, in ASSASSINATION SCIENCE (1998) and in MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA (2000), both of which bring together the work of leading experts on various aspects of this case. Indeed, the evidence that the author was not dedicated to the search for truth becomes nowhere more evident than in trashing current research.
Surprisingly, the book contains so much filler that can only be properly described as complete drivel as to raise questions about the author's motivation. Examples abound, including Ruth Paine's extended prayer early on, which ends with her entreaty, "Dear God. Guide me. Oh, guide me.", to which the only appropriate response must be, "Dear God. Spare me. Oh, spare me!" Which causes a serious student of the case to speculate as to precisely what Mallon thought he was doing.
He concludes his work by attempting to ridicule presentations at JFK Lancer's NID 2000 Conference, which featured many of the contributors to these books. Mallon's attacks on this conference, which I co-chaired, are so selective, so biased and unfair that they remove any lingering shreds of credibility that this work might still retain. They establish conclusive evidence that his book abounds with deceptive falsehoods and that its true purpose appears to have been to assassinate assassination research.
Mallon even tries to discredit eyewitness Jean Hill, to whose memory this meeting was dedicated, by observing that, in addition to reporting sensing a shot from the grassy knoll, she claimed to have seen "a little dog" in the backseat with Jackie and Jack. Mallon implies that she is not credible, no doubt ignorant of the fact that photos have shown that Jackie had a small stuffed dog that was given her by a spectator!
He attacks Ian Griggs, Executive Secretary of the Dealey Plaza/United Kingdom Society, even though his report--that Oswald had stayed at an expensive hotel en route to the Soviet Union, a very odd aspect of the government's story--provides another small piece to a puzzle that suggests the alleged assassin was working as an intelligence operative for the United States at the time. Mallon displays arrogance in passing such judgments given his own extremely modest knowledge.
He belittles other contributors to the conference--including, for example, Anna Marie-Walko, Larry Hancock, and Craig Roberts--but tells his readers nothing about the quality of their findings or other contributions, including that Roberts has authored an important book about the assassination, KILL ZONE (1994), based upon knowledge he acquired as a military sniper, which led him to conclude that the official account could not be correct. This is a book that Mallon ought to read.
The author does not even describe the most important symposia held at this meeting, involving some of the leading experts on the assassination. He does not mention the contributions from Peter Dale Scott, David W. Mantik, Noel Twyman, Jim Marrs, and Stewart Galanor, among others. He thereby deceives his readers, who would not know of these omissions unless they had been there. This is a familiar fallacy that is known as special pleading, which serious scholars are taught to avoid. But not Thomas Mallon.
Stewart Galanor, for example, discussed several of the paradoxes of the assassination, among which is that, since there exists extensive evidence of a shot to the throat from in front, yet the official inquiry concluded all the shots had been fired from behind, how could JFK have been shot from in front from behind? Moreover, since the head shot trajectory advanced by the Warren Commission, when properly oriented to correspond to the position of his head at the time of the shot as the Zapruder film displays, has an upward direction, how could JFK have been shot from below from above? Galanor has elaborated these points in his book, COVER-UP (1998), which Mallon also ought to read.
David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., presented evidence that the official account of a shot that passed through the back of the President's neck and exited his throat without hitting any bony structures before impacting Governor Connally and inflicting several wounds is not merely provably false but actually anatomically impossible. When the path it would have had to have taken is tracked from the official point of entry to official point of exit on a scan of a neck with the President's dimensions, any such bullet would have had to impact cervical verteba. This explains why Arlen Specter did not simply ask the physicians their observations of the wounds but hypothetical questions that implied the official trajectory.
Another symposium with Mantik, with Noel Twyman, author of BLOODY TREASON (1997), and with Peter Dale Scott, Ph.D., author of DEEP POLITICS AND THE DEATH OF JFK (1993) and of COCAINE POLITICS (1998), among his many books, discussed the difficulty of conveying discoveries about this event to the American people, especially via the mass media. This appears to be due to media reluctance to come to grips with the case and the influence of illusion and denial in presenting evidence that the American government played a role in the death of the 35th President of the United States, a difficulty compounded by "the silence of the historians". Mallon's book is a stellar example.
This theme was also apparent in a symposium that included Jim Marrs, author of CROSSFIRE (1989), a principal source for the movie, "JFK", and Charles Drago, who is often called "the conscience of the research community". Drago rightly asserted that anyone sincerely interested in this case who does not conclude that JFK was killed as the result of a conspiracy is either unfamiliar with the evidence or cognitively impaired.
Mallon might be excused for not knowing that the autopsy X-rays have been fabricated to conceal a massive blow-out to the back of the head caused by a shot from in front, that other X-rays have been altered by the addition of a 6.5 mm metallic object in an effort to implicate a 6.5 mm weapon, or that the brain shown in diagrams and photos at the National Archives is not the brain of JFK, as previous studies have established.
If he has never read BLOODY TREASON (1997), COVER-UP (1998), ASSASSINATION SCIENCE (1998), or MURDER IN DEALEY PLAZA (2000), that reinforces his lack of qualifications as an expert on the death of JFK. But how can he feign ignorance of the important discoveries presented at the Lancer Conference he attended and pretends to critique? His selective and distorted discussion of this meeting proves that Mallon has produced a work as deceptive about assassination research as it is about the alleged assassin.
Mantik's demonstration that the "magic bullet" theory is anatomically impossible arguably qualifies as the most important presentation at this conference. At a single stroke, it pulls the rug out from under THE WARREN REPORT (1964), The HSCA Report (1979), and CASE CLOSED (1993), which are based upon it. Yet Mallon does not even mention this development in reviewing the very conference where it was presented!
That would have contradicted his depiction of assassination research as a sham.
It must have been ironic for Mallon to sit in the audience and listen to leading experts on the assassination discussing the difficulties of disseminating what we know about the death of JFK, when he himself was engaged in composing a book with the objective of publishing false and misleading information, not only about Oswald but about the conference itself. This was not supposed to be a novel, but it is a work of fiction.
Mallon himself has to be either incompetent or corrupt. If he did not know the current state of research on the assassination, then he was unqualified to write this book. And if he wrote it in knowledge of the current state of research on the assassination, then he is complicit in perpetuating a fraud on the American people. And we know by his own words that he was present for Lancer 2000. Thomas Mallon has to have known better.
The author has discredited himself with this spiteful, misleading, and disgraceful book, which should never have been published. Every one who wants justice for JFK has to expose charlatans of this caliber and the myths that they perpetuate. Mallon now joins the ranks of other authors, such as Norman Mailer and Gerald Posner, who have also written disreputable books about JFK that are destined for the trash bin of history.