In my earliest years of JFK inquiry I was totally focused on events in Dallas, with the evidence from the TSBD, the evidence linking Oswald to the shooting – the boxes, the rifle, the shells, the limo, all that sort of thing – and of course the Plaza witnesses.   I prowled CompuServe, ordered all the back issues of the Assassination Chronicles, the Third and Fourth Decade, subscribed to PROBE. I even spent one Christmas holiday cutting apart the Groden and Trask photo collection books to piece my own sequential photo record of the motorcade. And of course, as mentioned in SWHT, I traveled to Texas and spent extended time with Anna Marie Kuhns Walko’s files and copy machine.

Now if Gerry McKnight had put out “Breach of Trust” earlier, I could have saved myself five or six years at all that but eventually it became clear even to me that the official investigation and the evidence entered into the record could lead you in circles forever. A decade or so later, work from the ARRB would make that even more clear – I mean if you question the autopsy Doctors, using official photos and X-rays, and after hours they still cannot show you the fatal wound that killed the President (and they jokingly say, gosh you – ARRB staff – have a real problem, hope you work it out) you have to wake up a bit.  After all, the autopsy was performed while Oswald was still very much alive, and it was a legal autopsy – yet no wounds are marked on the photos or X-rays. Would the Jury have accepted the Doctors statements in a court of law, would it have appreciated Humes sense of humor, or would a good legal defense not have torn the autopsy to shreds.  And if the autopsy goes, so goes a great deal of the case – plus I suspect a jury would really begin to question a lot of other things more closely.

So, after what seemed like a great while (and was the better part of a decade), I decided that the clean, structured approach of continuing to be involved with the official story and records was simply a matter of “entanglement”, there was plenty of evidence but it had largely been assembled to support the case against Oswald, the case showing him as a lone participant. Staying stuck in the Plaza, the TSBD, at Parkland or Bethesda was not going to bring me any sense of closure.  So, if the doors on the house are locked, what do you do – well you start looking for open windows.  It’s nice to go in the straight forward way, but if you can’t, you can’t.

If the observations and evidence from November 22, 1963 won’t take you to closure (although they most  probably would have with a full and open ended criminal investigation starting that day) what are you going to do?  It seemed like the only hope was to see if you could find a window into the actual conspiracy, someone who had known at least something about it and who talked to somebody. OK, fine, well it turned out a lot of folks had been talking and new ones seemed to appear yearly – people had talked to Garrison, people had talked to the media, people had even (Heaven forbid) talked to authors and shown up in books.  And that started my people files, a huge amount of NARA document searching and the quest to wade through all those names.

Now anyone still reading is asking themselves, why is he boring us with all his wasted time.  The answer is that folks have been asking me why I have two books out and what the difference is in the two.  Cutting to the chase, “Someone Would Have Talked” contains my “bottoms up” effort to find and evaluate credible windows into the conspiracy (if you don’t see one of your favorite names in the book, say Fred Chrisman or James Files,  it doesn’t mean they were not studied – enough said).  It’s a bottoms up study of people, how they connect and what they can tell us about the attack in Dallas.  It was published first as pretty much a huge spiral bound research document and grew into a real book over the years, especially when I got to the point of dealing with both the attack itself and the implications which led to the suppression of a full investigation.

But if SWHT was “bottoms up”, that still left the question of origin, how did the conspiracy start, who initiated it and how did it evolve down to the shooting in Dallas.  After studiously avoiding that question for two or three years, even I had to admit there had been no closure.  So, deciding that I had not gone nearly far enough out on the limb, I decided to start at the top and do a “tops down” study – if the actual tactical people identified in SWHT were involved, how did it happen?  The result is in NEXUS.  And that’s why there are two books and why I’m off into other subjects.

Which is perhaps more than anyone wanted to know, but if you were curious, now you do.

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About Larry Hancock

Larry Hancock is a leading historian-researcher in the JFK assassination. Co-author with Connie Kritzberg of November Patriots and author of the 2003 research analysis publication titled also Someone Would Have Talked. In addition, Hancock has published several document collections addressing the 112th Army Intelligence Group, John Martino, and Richard Case Nagell. In 2000, Hancock received the prestigious Mary Ferrell New Frontier Award for the contribution of new evidence in the Kennedy assassination case. In 2001, he was also awarded the Mary Ferrell Legacy Award for his contributions of documents released under the JFK Act.

6 responses »

  1. Lonestar says:

    Larry, I have always thought of your research as extremely solid and truthful. The fact that you will not go out on a limb as you say until you can check and double check facts is a credit to you, and it’s just a shame that all researchers aren’t as thorough. In my opinion, this demonstrates the validity of your work. I consider SWWHT as one of the best books on the case, up there with works like The man who knew too Much and The Last Investigation. I look forward to reading Nexus.

    • Thank you Sir, I surely do appreciate that – sometimes its really quite tempting to jump on with some of the more sensational sources, especially if they are saying what you would like to hear…grin. But I find it much more valuable when the dots begin connecting themselves without being pushed together. In that vein, I’ve been amazed that we have been able to flesh out and corroborate so much of Nagell’s basic story (which on the face of it is often rejected for being so sensational). Finding the likely identity of “Bob” was a real thrill.

      One thing though, I’m very pleased with Nexus – but unfortunately the first edition does contain some typos, some bad sentence structure, etc. Those were things we did catch and JFK Lancer, the publisher, is working on a corrected edition now. After some inquiry, it appears that the edited and corrected file may not have been what was used for the initial printing – that process was a bit rushed in order to get it out for the conference in November and unfortunately circumstances prevented it from being caught and corrected with another edition nearly as quickly as one would like. That’s being done now.

      In any event, at some point in the near future, I’ll probably put some categories up on this blog so I can respond to questions or dialog about Someone Would Have Talked and NEXUS separately. If anyone has suggestions for other categories just post them or drop me an email One category will probably be the subject of covert warfare operations, which is one of my main current interests. I’m tracing some of the individuals mentioned in my JFK work over a much broader time scale, through Laos, Vietnam, Latin America…to Chile, Nicaragua, etc. There may not have been a “Secret Team” but there definitely was an “A Team” when regime change was the order of the day.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Excellent point in several of your blogs re: lack of a formal criminal investigation. Not sure Oswald would be found innocent in a jury trial, but associates, including DeMohrenschildt, Aracha Smith and the New Orleans network would have been put under close legal scrutiny. Your superb books plus the recent work of David Kaiser and Russ Baker suggests the interpenetration of organized crime, anti-Castro Cubans and the Dallas right formed a much tighter working alliance than previously known.

    • I have a hard time guessing how a trial would have come out in 1964, what we know now which questions a lot of the forensics evidence and even the FBI tests/experts has taken a long time to come out and shaking any of it lose in 1964 would have depended on Oswald’s legal counsel as to how intensely they decided to challenge items. Probably the most easily contested points would have related to chain of possession and that could have forced a number of items out of court. We also know from actual CIA documents (from the Garrison trial) that they were willing to move heaven and earth to keep individuals off the stand and away from Garrison and that surely would have been true in Dallas. Their ability to intercede and block people from being called once out of State was impressive to say the least. And not just CIA, the totally illegal games that Justice played in supporting Shaw and in bringing an autopsy Doctor secretly into New Orleans show how much risk they were willing to take. If a trial occurred today, with an aggressive defense team, I think Oswald would stand a good chance of getting hit with nothing more than conspiracy or accessory charges. In 1964 I’m not sure that his defense team would not have taken the same tactic as Rubt’s or Sirhan’s or even Ray’s and we would have seen a deal cut and Oswald in jail for life after a guilty plea.

      On your interpenetration point, the thing that encourages me is that we can begin to sketch out how and where it actually occurred rather than leaving it something nebulous. We know that the Office of Security, Counter Intelligence and Staff-D all made use of crime resources for some very specific things – on a fairly routine basis, especially with Staff D. I pay a lot of attention to detailing that in NEXUS. We also know that certain areas of Operations used ultra right business interests routine, primarily those that conducted business in areas of specific project covert operations, I try to lay several examples of that in appendices in SWHT. My point would be that we don’t have to paint with the sort of broad brush we did in the first few decades, we actually know where to look now (which shows I’m an incurable optimist I suppose).

  3. rich schrader says:

    Great piece on your work methodology. A valuable companion piece might be an update on Lane’s brief contra-Warren Commission with the new material you and others have unearthed in the past decade and a half.

    • Thank you Rich, of course I have to admit that it took me a decade of stumbling along before it began to dawn on me…grin.

      Actually we are working to flesh this out in a number of ways. Next month the Dealey Plaza UK conference at Canterbury will have a session devoted to “why we don’t know” and I’ll help lead that discussion. And next November in Dallas at the JFK Lancer conference we will be devoting several presentations and some work sessions to it. The goal is to put together the most current and hard hitting case we can to present during the 50th anniversary – a case that hits home the point that official investigation and WC report simply does not stand with what we know now. We may not be able to agree on the conspiracy, but we can certainly make a solid case as to why the official verdict should be regarded as an open issue.

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