Judyth Baker's Expert Witness
Copyright © 2004-2008 by David Reitzes
Martin Shackelford, Judyth Baker, friend Anna Lewis Vincent, and Baker collaborator Howard Platzman
The History Channel recently aired several new episodes of Nigel Turner's The Men Who Killed Kennedy, a series that has inspired controversy even in the fringe world of JFK assassination conspiracy theorists.
The second of the three latest episodes, "The Love Affair," is devoted solely to allegations made by one Judyth Vary Baker. Judyth Baker claims, among other things, to have been the long-secret mistress of Lee Harvey Oswald, to have been an exceptionally gifted cancer researcher entrusted by the Central Intelligence Agency with a role in an ultra-top secret CIA plot to assassinate Cuban Premier Fidel Castro, to have been involved in the creation or discovery of the AIDS virus(1) (a claim conspicuously absent from The Men Who Killed Kennedy), and to be the missing link in any number of JFK conspiracy-related mysteries.
Among Kennedy assassination researchers, even among committed believers in conspiracy, Baker's story is not particularly controversial. Many of the details have been widely circulated among assassination researchers over the past four years; and, as far as can be deduced from the public record, her claims have been rejected by every serious, prominent researcher who has come across it -- with one exception.(2)
Following the initial broadcast of "The Love Affair," many inquisitive souls took to the Internet, particularly the History Channel's own "History Alive" web forum, to inquire about what they had seen: Who was this woman? Could she be taken seriously? Had anyone investigated her claims? Did she have evidence to prove any of her multitude of allegations?
One of those who frequently responded to such queries at the "History Alive" forum was someone calling himself "Martin4."
I've known Judyth Baker for four years ["Martin4" assured everyone]. I've studied her evidence, and spent time with her exploring the areas of New Orleans which relate to her account. I've talked with a witness who knew of her affair with Lee Oswald. Another researcher has talked with two other witnesses to the affair. I find her credible.(3)
As is obvious to those who have been following Judyth Baker's saga for some time, "Martin4" was Martin Shackelford, who had been saying much the same thing to researchers for four years -- and explicitly, resolutely refusing to produce even a stitch of evidence.(4)
Should we believe him? Who is Martin Shackelford?
By his own account,(5) Martin Shackelford has been researching the John F. Kennedy assassination for thirty years. According to one JFK assassination-oriented website, "Martin Shakelford [sic] has been one of the most prolific writers ever to write about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This is true, despite the fact that Martin has never authored a complete book. . . . Martin has tirelessly shared his extensive knowledge on the case, his sensible evaluations of the evidence and has relentlessly countered lone assassin fanatics on the internet-based [sic] JFK news groups for years."
Author Harrison Edward Livingstone (High Treason) has written, "Martin Shackelford, although we disagree on some points, is one of the most valuable of all researchers into the assassination of John Kennedy."(6) Shackelford's research has been cited in the work of Dr. David Mantik (interviewed on-screen in The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Smoking Guns), who calls Martin "a committed student of the case."(7)
Author Walt Brown (The People v. Lee Harvey Oswald), seen in The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Guilty Men, has also expressed his respect for Martin,(8) whose name has appeared in the Acknowledgments of books as diverse as Richard Trask's Pictures of the Pain and Noel Twyman's Bloody Treason.
When I first came online and began encountering Martin's occasional messages at the JFK-related Usenet groups in 1998, it was apparent that he was exceptionally well informed. But it also became apparent before long that Martin was not averse to making claims he could not or would not substantiate.
For example, in a 1999 newsgroup message posted in response to a request for help from a newcomer to the assassination subject, Martin cited "A deposit of over $200,000 by an offshore bank into the account of George DeMohrenschildt [sic] in December 1963" as a prime example of evidence of conspiracy in the JFK case.(9) I took issue with Martin's contention, as Oswald's friend George De Mohrenschildt left the U.S. for Haiti half a year before the assassination. To link him to the murder of the President seems a little unreasonable without some solid evidence. (George De Mohrenschildt was a Russian-born oil geologist who briefly befriended Oswald and his Russian wife, Marina, when they moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area in mid-1962. Although, unlike the other Russian emigres in the area that briefly befriended the Oswalds, De Mohrenschildt genuinely liked Lee Oswald, he eventually was put off by Oswald's abusive behavior towards Marina and had largely broken off contact with the Oswalds by the time he moved to Haiti in June 1963.)(10)
I wish I could discuss this in more detail at present, but I am not presently at liberty to discuss all of the evidence on this point. Suffice it to say that the $200,000 sent to DeMohrenschildt [sic] was not intended for DeMohrenschildt [sic].(11)
It seemed odd that Martin would cite such information as one of his prime examples of conspiracy evidence, then refuse to substantiate the matter. But I trusted Martin; I assumed that he was pursuing a genuine lead that he had reason to believe would prove fruitful, and he would go public with his findings at the appropriate time.
But when I asked Martin over two years later if he was ready to explain this claim of his and reveal his source, he became evasive; all I got in response was a brush-off and a referral to a book by Edward Jay Epstein that I already knew was the source for Martin's claim about the $200,000 (Epstein records a hearsay report about "several large deposits -- one of which exceeded two hundred thousand dollars in late 1963 -- that came from a Bahamian bank"; Epstein reports nothing sinister about these allegations, which he relates to De Mohrenschildt's professional activities in Haiti),(12) but which said nothing whatsoever to support Martin's contention that this alleged deposit "was not intended for DeMohrenschildt [sic]," much less that any of this had any relation whatsoever to the murder of John F. Kennedy.
I sought to remind Martin that he had once claimed to have some secret evidence on this point, something that he was "not presently at liberty to discuss." Was he now at liberty to discuss it, I asked. If not, all he had to do was say so. Or had this "evidence" of his turned out to be worthless, and if so, had he planned to let anyone know at any point?
These last questions were asked in December 2002. Martin never responded. ("Martin Shackelford: Judyth's Expert Witness" was initially uploaded to the Web on December 30, 2003. Martin has since responded to it twice, first in a newsgroup post of December 31, 2003 [charmingly entitled, "Martin Responds to Dave the Liar"], then again in a post of January 7, 2004. In neither post does he mention his allegation regarding George De Mohrenschildt, either to support it or retract it.)
I have occasionally wondered whether his source for the claim -- a claim posted by Martin, a veteran researcher, specifically to convince a newcomer that a conspiracy had killed JFK -- could be a certain Judyth Vary Baker. In fact, it is.
In Judyth's 2006 book -- since withdrawn from circulation amidst Judyth claims that Harrison E. Livingstone and Martin Shackelford stole the manuscript from her and published it without her permission -- Lady J writes: "Lee told me that a fund of $200,000 [sic], created to generate income, was in the hands of his friend, George DeMohrenschildt [sic], and that from these funds, his [Oswald's] wife and children by his first marriage [i.e., Marina, Rachel, and June Oswald] would receive support. Lee had accepted all these proposals and conditions."(13)
So Martin's support for this notable "conspiracy evidence" turns out to be, not widely published journalist and author Edward Jay Epstein, as Martin claimed, but rather Judyth Vary Baker, the self-proclaimed witness whose credibility Martin has been unsuccessfully trying to establish for nearly a solid decade. To date, Martin has never acknowledged this, much less explained why he would play such a shell game with the evidence.
Another completely unrelated claim of Martin's has caused some concern among his peers in the conspiracy research community. Some background information is necessary to understand the issue.
Back in November 1994, at the Assassination Symposium on Kennedy (ASK) in Dallas, Canadian bookseller Al Navis gave a presentation in which he made a startling claim. It concerned Lee Bowers, the eyewitness who, at the moment of the assassination, had a clear view of the rear of the stockade fence on the grassy knoll, where many theorize a shot or shots came from.
Navis said that when he was a teenager he had briefly corresponded with Bowers, and that Bowers wrote to him something that he never told anyone else: that he had actually seen men fire from behind the fence. If true, this would be sensational news; but Bowers died in a car accident in 1966, and Navis says he has no idea where the letter is.
Because Navis's allegation differs so greatly from what Lee Bowers told others (he was interviewed by the Dallas police, the FBI, the Warren Commission, author Mark Lane [Rush to Judgment], and others; and was interviewed on film by Mark Lane and filmmaker Emile de Antonio), and because Navis couldn't produce the letter itself, most researchers tend to discount the claim, at least until such a time as the letter should turn up.
But not Martin Shackelford. In October 1999 Martin assured posters to the JFK newsgroups that Lee Bowers was an eyewitness to a grassy knoll gunman.(14)
Actually, Lee Bowers made it quite clear to everyone from the Warren Commission to Mark Lane to his minister, Reverend Will Bailey, that he had seen no one fire a weapon from behind the fence.
When I suggested to Martin that Al Navis's allegation remains unsubstantiated because he never produced the letter he alleges Bowers sent him, Martin firmly disagreed:
"Al Navis never produced the letter"? I saw a photocopy of the letter at the Dallas conference where he made his presentation about it.(15)
I pointed out to Martin that author Walt Brown had written an article describing Al's ASK presentation, and Walt made it vividly clear that Navis did not have a copy of the letter with him. In fact, Navis promised Walt he would try to find a copy, and Walt was very disappointed when it never turned up.(16)
Martin brushed this aside and insisted he had seen a photocopy of the letter with his own eyes at ASK. "I saw the photocopy of Bowers' letter at the conference where Al Navis made his presentation," Martin told another newsgroup poster. "Navis read from it during the presentation. So, yes, I believe the letter exists."(17) ". . . I KNOW that a photocopy exists because I saw it," he said (with emphasis as in the original). "I believe the photocopy was of an original letter."(18)
"Navis has had a good reputation for integrity," Martin noted (and I would not contest this). "I don't believe he would attempt to foist a forgery on anyone."(19) (Agreed; no one but Martin has ever claimed Al had a document in Dallas at all, much less a forged one.) When a poster expressed doubts that the letter ever existed in the first place, Martin replied, in part:
I saw a photocopy of the letter in Dallas.
I don't care whether you believe it exists or not.(20)
Trust me, Martin was essentially saying. I've seen the evidence with my own eyes.
But if that's the case, then Martin's eyes apparently were playing tricks on him, as Al Navis recently confirmed to me via e-mail that Walt Brown was right: Navis did not have a copy of the Lee Bowers letter with him when he made his ASK presentation in 1994; he only paraphrased from memory what he said Bowers had written him. In fact, Al told me, he doesn't think he ever made a photocopy of his correspondence with Bowers. (And no, he never did locate the letter.)(21)
As noted above, "Martin Shackelford: Judyth's Expert Witness" was first uploaded to the Web on December 30, 2003. In his December 31, 2003, newsgroup post entitled, "Martin Responds to Dave the Liar," Martin Shackelford writes yet again:
At the ASK Conference he [Reitzes] mentions, I saw a photocopy of the letter, which Al brought with him, and referred to from the podium.
In a newsgroup post of January 7, 2004, Martin repeated the exact same claim, and was still insisting upon it three years later:
Al showed me a photocopy at a Dallas conference after his presentation, yes.
Trust me, Martin says. I've seen the evidence with my own eyes.
He can't simply admit he made a mistake, and anyone who suggests otherwise is a liar.(22)
But if Martin's newsgroup performance regarding Al Navis's allegations proved surprising, things were only going to get worse.
In late 1998, Martin had contributed an article entitled, "Garrison's Case Finally Coming Together," to the web-based periodical, Fair Play. With regard to both its overall factual inaccuracy, its many unexplained leaps in logic, and its persistent reliance on innuendo, the article was, to be blunt, appalling. While I did not fancy myself an authority on the subject of Jim Garrison's ill-fated New Orleans-based JFK conspiracy probe, I couldn't understand how someone as intelligent and knowledgeable as Martin Shackelford could write such an ill-informed and frankly illogical article.
Perhaps most disturbing of all, though, was that the article ignored one of the most fundamental tenets in research: Cite your sources. If you make a claim, reveal what your basis for it is and where precisely you got the information. Otherwise, how is anyone to determine whether the evidence you cite or the interpretations you've drawn from such evidence are legitimate?
Because I had recently begun studying the Garrison case and knew how misguided Martin's article was, and because I was aware that Martin was a researcher that many looked up to, I could well imagine how far astray it could lead some, particularly newcomers to the subject or casual students who trusted longtime researchers like Martin to offer some guidance. I decided to write a critique of Martin's article. Conspiracy theorist Robin Ramsay would later refer to it as "a devastating assault on recent attempts [sic] to salvage Garrison."(23)
Because I was on friendly terms with Martin and wanted to stay that way, I let him know via e-mail that I was going to be posting an article that was heavily critical of what he had written. "Criticism is not a problem," he assured me.(24)
When my article appeared, a footnote stated:
Martin Shackelford is a Kennedy assassination researcher whose broad knowledge and temperate approach to both the evidence and his fellow researchers I greatly admire. Author Harrison E. Livingstone has called Shackelford "one of the most valuable of all researchers into the assassination of John Kennedy." It is not my intention to belittle Shackelford in any way with this critique. Rather, it is precisely because of the position he holds in the research community that I feel the need to respond in detail to this particular article of his.
In an e-mail Martin explained to me that the reason he hadn't cited his sources in the article was because it had been originally written as a newsgroup post.(25) (This is a non sequitur, as one can certainly cite sources in a newsgroup post.) As to why he didn't add the proper footnotes when Fair Play inquired about adding it to their website, he said he just didn't have time.(26)
He supplied sources for some of his claims, but the one that I was most interested in was his allegation that
Another recently-released [sic] document connects [Clay] Shaw to the top secret [CIA] project ZRCLIFF, which was run out of William Harvey's super-secret Staff D along with the ZRRIFLE assassination program.
I wanted to know precisely what this document said to purportedly link acquitted Garrison suspect Clay Shaw to this hush-hush CIA project, but Martin said he didn't have the document handy. I suspected Martin had simply made a mistake; I didn't believe there was such a document, because a fellow researcher had alerted me to a mention of CIA project ZR/CLIFF in the writings of a pro-Garrison researcher named Bill Davy. After seeing what Davy had written, I thought it reasonably obvious that Martin was unintentionally distorting information from Davy's work.
As I explained in my critique of Martin's article:
Bill Davy writes that freelance pilot Leslie Norman Bradley was once considered for a CIA operation called ZR/CLIFF, "but for unknown reasons the offer of employment was withdrawn."(27)
What does this have to do with Clay Shaw, one might ask. A Houston man named Sam Kouffroth told the FBI that he'd once asked Bradley "how he had been making a living since being released from the Cuban prison and he replied that it was pretty rough but that Clay Shaw of the International House was 'helping us.'"(28)
It seemed a reasonable enough hypothesis that Martin was simply conflating these two separate anecdotes from Davy's work (although the astute reader will note that even this Leslie Norman Bradley person was not himself connected to ZR/CLIFF, whatever it was: he was considered for it but ultimately rejected).
Martin was, after all, familiar with Bill Davy's work; he had posted a brief article of notes on Davy's manuscript, Through the Looking Glass: The Mysterious World of Clay Shaw, which was later expanded and published under the title, Let Justice Be Done: New Light on the Jim Garrison Investigation -- from which I quoted the information about Leslie Norman Bradley and Sam Kouffroth. Through the Looking Glass was also one of the items Martin named in a newsgroup post, at my prompting, as one of his sources for the Fair Play article -- but not for the "ZR/CLIFF" claim.(29)
However, Martin specifically denied that Bill Davy was his source for the alleged Shaw-ZR/CLIFF connection, and said his source was "a new CIA document" -- but he no longer had the document close at hand: "I would have to do some digging to get the document reference again," he said.(30)
This was already over four months after my critique of his article had appeared, so apparently he wasn't much interested in "digging" for this evidence -- despite the fact that such evidence could have validated, for the very first time, Jim Garrison's claim that Clay Shaw had been a clandestine operative of the CIA.(31)
A few weeks later, however, Martin suddenly changed his tune. "I posted the specific citation quite some time ago," he claimed.(32) "The Shaw/ZRCLIFF document was published as a photocopy in [the conspiracy-oriented periodical] Probe," he now said. "I've mentioned this before," he insisted, "but you continue to report that I've given no cite."(33)
This certainly came as news to me, and a search of newsgroup archives yielded nothing whatsoever to support this new claim, much less his original allegation about Clay Shaw. This was the first time, as far as I could tell, that Martin claimed his source was not an actual document in his possession, but rather something he'd seen published in a magazine; and I certainly could find no trace of a citation from Martin in any of his newsgroup messages from late 1998 or early 1999. (Anyone have an issue of Probe with Martin's "new CIA document" in it? No one else seems to have seen it.)
Moreover, it seemed awfully strange that, up until now, it had been Martin's position that he simply "didn't have time" to look up a citation for his claim,(34) and only three weeks before he had insisted that he "would have to do some digging" to find it;(35) but that all of the sudden his position became that he already did produce the appropriate citation -- and had done so "quite some time ago."(36)
This was his story, however, and he was sticking to it. Over the next few years I occasionally reminded Martin he still owed me a citation for the claim, and he continued to insist that he had posted it long ago -- but he could never seem to put his hand on the appropriate citation again, and could not produce a URL at Google's Usenet archives where his alleged posting of the citation could be found.
Then, in a newsgroup post of May 6, 2003, Martin dropped another bombshell:
As for the Shaw document you keep harping on, Dave [Martin writes], I posted it at the time, your interpretation of it differed, and you insisted that it didn't support what I had said. Doesn't ring a bell? I thought you kept better track of your victory claims.(37)
Here was truly astounding news. Not only had Martin posted the relevant document, but, according to him, he and I had discussed it at the time and noted differing interpretations of it!
Does anyone doubt for a minute that no such exchange ever occurred? If so, feel free to proceed directly to Google's Usenet archives and search for it yourself. I wish you luck.
So once again we find Martin Shackelford making a claim he cannot support and doggedly insisting that he saw the evidence with his own eyes -- and this time he also insists that I must know perfectly well he had the evidence, because I saw it, too!
The above information was included in my original December 30, 2003, version of this article. Martin's reply, in his December 31, 2003, newsgroup post, "Martin Responds to Dave the Liar," is a fascinating one:
The CIA document relating to Clay Shaw was published in Probe Magazine, as I have mentioned before, but which Dave, again conveniently, omits to mention. [?] I don't recall which issue, and haven't spent time digging it out to satisfy Dave's demands, so apparently he doesn't consider the source reference worth mentioning -- he just claims there was none. [??] Then he seems to suddenly recall my mentioning Probe -- and makes a distinction betweeen "an actual document in [my] possession" and a photo-copy of the document in Probe, suggesting that he suspected Probe of publishing phony documents [???????] --though he steps back from actually make [sic] the absurd accusation. He then hammers on the point that I said I "didn't have time" to dig out the cite -- presenting it as a contradiction to mentioning Probe as the source. [??] Clearly, it was the SPECIFIC source, not the general one (a Probe issue) that I didn't have time to dig out, thus there was no contradiction. [???] Like some of his allies, he has a gift for creating contradictions where there are none. [!]
In both a newsgroup post of December 31, 2003 and at this webpage (in a revision uploaded January 2, 2004), I tried to point out to Martin the illogical and seemingly irrational nature of his argument, including the fact that my alleged suspicion about Probe "publishing phony documents" exists solely in his imagination.
But in a newsgroup post of January 7, 2004, Martin repeated the same bizarre passage word for word, as if repeating it somehow made it less nonsensical.
Trust me, Martin says. I've seen the evidence with my own eyes.
Perhaps Martin would have been better served by the candor he'd displayed back in December 1998, when he sheepishly admitted (in response to a Usenet critique of this same Fair Play article by researcher David Blackburst):
The Garrison piece was written in a short period of time as a newsgroup post, primarily from memory, late at night. [Fair Play editor] John Kelin asked if he could run it, and I agreed. Clearly, I should have gone over it more carefully before agreeing to publication.Sadly, such forthrightness had long since evaporated from Martin's writings. For example, he pulled the same "I already produced the evidence (and you saw it)" trick during a newsgroup exchange in which he claimed to have discovered an error (yes, just a single one) in Patricia Lambert's landmark study, False Witness: The Real Story of the Jim Garrison Investigation and Oliver Stone's Film JFK.
But Martin refused to simply cite the alleged error and explain what the contrary evidence was: "I did that a while back," he said in a newsgroup post of June 8, 2000, "as Dave and others here are aware." (Emphasis added.)
But he never did, no "others" came forward to support his assertion, and the reader is invited to search Google's Usenet archives for it. Again, good luck.
Martin resorted to the same "I already produced the evidence" stunt with regard to another matter involving a claim he made about author Gus Russo. First he refused to produce the evidence, then he said he already had, but would not do so again.
The Russo matter is a particularly revealing example of Martin's apparent inability to admit error, and so deserves recounting, despite the trivial nature of the claim itself. Martin, who naturally disapproves of any television program that challenges conspiracy theories of Kennedy's assassination, praised author Gus Russo as "the only guy with the guts to publicly disassociate himself from the PBS 'Frontline' program on Oswald . . .", which concluded that Oswald alone killed Kennedy.(38)
Gus Russo was one of the chief researchers for the landmark PBS broadcast of Frontline: Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald? And, as a number of people were quick to point out to Martin, it wasn't Russo who disassociated himself from the program; it was journalist Anthony Summers, who had his name removed from the show's credits because of his disagreement with the program's conclusions. But Martin stubbornly refused to admit he was wrong.
Even Gus Russo himself made a rare appearance at the newsgroup to try to set Martin straight:
For the record, I DID NOT disassociate myself from the Frontline program (Tony Summers did). I was reasonably happy with the final show. However, I DID say that we all would have done things differently if we were in [producer] Mike Sullivan's shoes. For example, I would have had far less of my friend Gerald Posner and more of Arcacha [Sergio Arcacha Smith] and Robert Kennedy, which Mike felt veered away from the topic of an Oswald bio. Bottom line: I am proud of the show and of much of the new material we dredged up.
Martin wasn't having it; he was right and everyone else (including Gus Russo) was wrong. His original allegation about Russo "was accurate," he said.(40)
In his December 31, 2003, newsgroup post, "Martin Responds to Dave the Liar," Martin again denied that he made any error, accusing both Gus Russo and myself of "quibbling over the distinction between [Russo] 'disassociating' himself and 'distancing' himself, and this is Dave's big point, it seems."
Of course, I said nothing even vaguely like this in my article. As I tried to point out to Martin, this is an example of what is known as a "straw man" argument: misrepresenting an adversary's argument so it can easily be refuted. The real issue Martin was evading is that his claim about Gus Russo is factually inaccurate, which, for whatever reason, Martin refuses to admit.
But in Martin's second newsgroup reply (of January 7, 2004) he repeats the exact same argument verbatim.
He can't simply admit he made a mistake, and anyone who suggests otherwise is a liar.
So here we have five separate subjects about which Martin has made allegations he cannot support, but he claims to have seen evidence supporting all of them -- evidence he cannot produce.
There was a time I considered Martin Shackelford an ally in the search for the truth about John F. Kennedy's death. If I had a question, particularly with regard to the photographic evidence that Martin had made his area of specialization, I thought I could count on Martin for a sound, reasonable answer.
I am saddened to report that I have lost an ally.
January 9, 2004 (revised March 21, 2008)
July 2004 Addendum
In the months subsequent to the posting of the above article, I tried numerous times to motivate Martin Shackelford to respond to its contents. In every case, Martin declined.
However, in a newsgroup post of July 8, 2004, Martin did imply that my arguments were without merit -- or at least lacked "proof."
Nevertheless, I noted, Martin could not demonstrate any inaccuracies in my article.
Martin's response, from a newsgroup post of July 9, 2004:
You ignored them.
You remember that, don't you, Dave?
And so it goes.
October 2004 Addendum
With Martin still popping up at various Internet forums to defend Judyth Baker, it may be worth mentioning another individual whose credibility he has endorsed in connection to Judyth Baker's story:(41) Michael Riconosciuto, a convicted drug dealer who, among many other things, claims to have been a CIA agent, to have met personally with Osama bin Laden, and to have attended the military autopsy of a life form from outer space.
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The Top One Hundred Martin Shackelford Excuses
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1. Judyth Baker with Howard Platzman, Ph.D., "Deadly Alliance: Outline of the Conspiracy."
2. The initial version of this article was uploaded to the Web on December 30, 2003. In a newsgroup post of December 31, 2003, entitled, "Martin Responds to Dave the Liar," Martin Shackelford writes:
Dave seems to be engaged in a warped form of flattery--devoting whole threads on the newsgroup to attacking me, and now adding "research articles" to his website for the same purpose.Martin, of course, has conveniently deleted some key words from what I wrote; what I actually said was: "Many of the details of Judyth's story have been widely circulated among assassination researchers over the past four years; and, as far as can be deduced from the public record [emphasis added], Judyth's claims have been rejected by every serious, prominent researcher who has come across it -- with one exception." In other words, if any serious, prominent researchers beside Martin take Judyth Vary Baker's story seriously, they have refrained from publicly expressing their support. (Since these words were written in 2004, three researchers considerably more prominent than Martin have endorsed Judyth's story: Harrison E. Livingstone, Jim Marrs, and James Fetzer.)
Any pretense at objectivity is dropped immediately, as he refers to: "the fringe world of JFK assassination conspiracy theorists."
It doesn't take long for him to add another:
"Judyth's claims have been rejected by every serious, prominent researcher who has come across it--with one exception." The statement, of course, is false.
Both in a newsgroup post of December 31, 2003, and at this webpage, I pointed out that Martin had altered my statement and distorted what I said. In a newsgroup post of January 7, 2004, Martin repeated his exact same, misleading argument.
3. "History Alive" web forum post, November 28, 2003.
4. In his December 31, 2003, newsgroup post, "Martin Responds to Dave the Liar," Martin writes, "He [Reitzes] then pretends that my History Channel website posts were in some sort of disguise, though I used my first name, as I do on the newsgroup." Of course, I never said that Martin's posts to the History Channel forum sought to disguise his identity; it is simply a fact that these posts identified him only as "Martin4," while his newsgroup posts identify him as "Martin Shackelford."
I explained this both in a newsgroup post of December 31, 2003, and at this webpage; but in a newsgroup post of January 7, 2004, Martin ignored what I said and repeated his previous statement.
"Martin Responds to Dave the Liar" continues, "He [Reitzes] claims that I have refused 'to produce even a stitch of evidence.' He omits that I have indicated the evidence will be in her book, and that I agreed NOT to post it prior to publication. [Emphasis as in the original.] Thus, he makes a rather typical pre-publication agreement appear sinister."
Here I'm afraid Martin is bending the truth, as no "pre-publication agreement" has ever kept Martin (or Judyth, or Judyth's co-author, Howard Platzman) from publicly making numerous claims based on Judyth's story for the past four years (including, ahem, an entire hour-long episode of The Men Who Killed Kennedy -- way to keep a lid on the story, guys); Martin only invokes the specter of the "pre-publication agreement" when someone requests that he produce evidence for any of his claims.
In fact, at the same time Martin was using this very excuse at the newsgroups, Judyth Baker wrote me in an e-mail of October 10, 2000:
The rumors about a book are just that. There may never be a book, i am not interested in books, there are what? hundreds ofthem about this? Another book will not change things. I just want to talk to people one by one, and show them what happened. It will take whatever is left of my life to do that, i suppose. [All spelling and capitalization reproduced as in the original.]I pointed this out both in a newsgroup post of December 31, 2003, and at this webpage; but in a newsgroup post of January 7, 2004, Martin offered no comment.
5. Martin Shackelford, testimony before the Assassination Records Review Board, November 18, 1994.
6. Harrison Edward Livingstone, Killing the Truth: Deceit and Deception in the JFK Case (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1993), p. xi.
7. David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., "Special Effects in the Zapruder Film: How the Film of the Century was Edited," anthologized in James H. Fetzer, Ph.D., ed., Assassination Science: Experts Speak Out on the Death of JFK (Chicago: Catfeet Press, 1998), p. 267.
8. JFK/Deep Politics Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 4, July 1998, p. 39.
9. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, October 1, 1999.
10. Warren Commission Report, pp. 280-83. For a detailed account of Oswald's experiences with De Mohrenschildt and other Russian emigres in Texas, see Gerald Posner, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK (New York: Random House, 1993), pp. 77-121.
11. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, October 2, 1999.
12. Edward Jay Epstein, The Assassination Chronicles: Inquest, Counterplot, and Legend (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1992), p. 567.
13. Judyth Vary Baker, Lee Harvey Oswald: The True Story of the Accused Assassin of President John F. Kennedy by His Lover (Victoria, B.C.: Trafford Publishing, 2006), p. 520.
14. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, October 3, 1999.
15. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, October 4, 1999.
16. Walt Brown, "The Lee Bowers Letter: The One That Got Away," JFK/Deep Politics Quarterly.
17. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, July 18, 1999.
18. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, July 21, 1999.
19. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, November 4, 1999.
20. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, November 5, 1999.
21. Al Navis, e-mail to author, December 22, 2003.
22. In his December 31, 2003, newsgroup post entitled, "Martin Responds to Dave the Liar," Martin claims that in my discussion of the Al Navis/Lee Bowers letter issue, I resorted to "omissions" to make a "false point." According to Martin, the entire "false point" I sought to make is "that I [Martin] believed Al Navis with regard to a letter from Lee Bowers," and that I countered this by "saying only that Navis doesn't currently know where the letter is." This is an example of what is known as a "straw man" argument: misrepresenting an adversary's argument so it can easily be refuted, regardless of what the genuine issues at hand may be.
I pointed this out both in a newsgroup post of December 31, 2003, and at this webpage. In his second newsgroup response (of January 7, 2004) Martin repeats his argument word for word.
After arguing about some things I never discussed at all in my article, Shackelford finally gets around to addressing Al Navis's denial that he had a copy of the letter with him in Dallas: Martin dismisses this because, he says, ". . . Dave doesn't have the credibility to convince me based on a claimed message. We've seen those kind here before."
Though Al Navis is a merchant whose e-mail address is listed publicly, and Al responded to my own e-mail query about the Bowers letter within a mere three hours of my sending it, Martin's second newsgroup response (of January 7, 2004) reports no attempt to verify the statement of Al's that I reported here.
23. Robin Ramsay, Who Shot JFK? (Great Britain: Pocket Essentials, 2002), p. 44.
24. Martin Shackelford, e-mail to author, December 1, 1998.
25. Martin Shackelford, e-mail to author, December 1, 1998.
26. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, December 25, 1998.
27. William Davy, Let Justice Be Done: New Light on the Jim Garrison Investigation (Reston, Virginia: Jordan Publishing, 1999), p. 88.
28. William Davy, Let Justice Be Done: New Light on the Jim Garrison Investigation (Reston, Virginia: Jordan Publishing, 1999), pp. 88-89.
29. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, December 25, 1998.
30. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, April 15, 1999.
31. See for example Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins (New York: Warner Books, 1991), p. 100.
32. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, May 11, 1999.
33. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, May 9, 1999.
34. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, December 25, 1998.
35. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, April 15, 1999.
36. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, May 11, 1999.
37. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, May 6, 2003.
38. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, October 27, 2001.
39. Gus Russo, newsgroup post, October 31, 2001.
40. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, March 17, 2002. Martin did not contest that Anthony Summers had disassociated himself from the Frontline broadcast; his back-up argument was that Gus Russo had made some allegedly disparaging remarks about the show at a 1993 conference, and might have chosen to take his name off the show had he a suitable opportunity to do so, although Martin could produce no evidence to suggest that Russo had any less of an opportunity to do so than Anthony Summers. Martin wrote that "anyone who listens to the tape [of the conference] will hear Russo's criticism of the 'Frontline' show. It wasn't 'another person who did so.' It was another person who took his name off the show. Each of the two disassociated themselves in different ways. By the time Russo learned how it had been edited, it was a bit late to remove his name, had he wanted to do so." When Russo categorically denied this, Martin responded, "Gus, I will say only that the tone of your comments today is substantially different from the tone of your comments in November 1993." When I asked Martin specifically to either support or retract his claim that Gus Russo "publicly disassociate[d] himself from the PBS 'Frontline' program on Oswald," and was, in fact, "the only guy with the guts" to do so, Martin only replied: "The statement was accurate." (Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, March 17, 2002.)
41. Martin Shackelford, newsgroup post, September 23, 2004.
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