03/01/2016

Mr. "X" Gets It Wrong

or

Fletcher Prouty In New Zealand

 

I was recently asked (03/01/2016) about Prouty's claim (which you will see later) of a Christchurch Star newspaper Extra edition. Years ago when I was in contact with the Christchurch Star's Bob Cotton he looked into the claim and couldn't confirm or deny it. However, we decided it might have been another embellishment on Prouty's part because Prouty put the term Extra in quotation marks.

In 1992 Birch Lane Press released L. Fletcher Prouty's JFK. Prouty a retired United States Air Force Colonel previously authored The Secret Team. This 1973 paperback revealed much about the deceit and deception within the Central Intelligence Agency. Prouty became the model for Oliver Stone's character X played by Donald Sutherland for the movie JFK. As a devotee of The Secret Team I assumed Prouty would bring the same level of objectivity to JFK. I was surprised when I ran across the following on page 308:

"In a long account in the Christchurch Star about Lee Harvey Oswald -- which included that fine studio portrait in a business suit, white shirt, and tie -- these press services provided, and the Star published some very interesting information.

According to the account, Lee Harvey Oswald:

"defected to the Soviet Union in 1959"

"returned to the United States in 1962"

"has a [Russian] wife and child"

"worked in a factory in Minsk"

"went to the USSR following discharge from the Marine Corps"

"became disillusioned with life there [in the USSR]"

"Soviet authorities had given him permission to return with his wife and child"

"had been chairman of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee . . . and much more."

"By what process could the wire services have acquired, collated, evaluated, written, and then transmitted all that material about an unknown young man named Lee Harvey Oswald within the first moments following that tragic and 'unexpected' event -- even before the police had charged him?"

Prouty is not logical in his efforts to convince us that the communication was extremely swift. In my opinion he needs to recheck his times as well as press sources operating at that moment. Additionally, Oswald was not the unknown young man Prouty claims nor was it difficult to obtain details on Oswald once he was taken into custody. First consider the time zone shift.

He states "For those of us who just happened to be in far-off Christchurch, New Zealand, for example, the Kennedy assassination took place at seven-thirty on the morning of Saturday, November 23, 1963." He then continues, "As soon as possible, the Christchurch Star hit the streets with an 'Extra' edition." Read a little further and you discover "as soon as possible" becomes "This newspaper ran an 'Extra' edition that was on the streets before noon in Christchurch."

It would appear over the years the Christchurch Star has received numerous requests concerning Prouty's claims about the release of this "Extra." Bob Cotton, Chief Reporter for the Star, has been interviewed numerous times about the event. He has indicated that Prouty's information is flawed and "These theories are based on inaccurate assumptions about the Star newspaper's production."  

Prouty creates confusion by maintaining the release of information on Oswald could not occur until Oswald was charged with the crime. Any student of the Kennedy assassination remembers Oswald wasn't charged for many hours and then for the Tippit shooting. He was, however, taken into custody at 1:50 PM. (8:50 AM, New Zealand time.) The Warren Report referencing Dallas Police Chief Jessie Curry's testimony at 12H30, the testimony of reporter Glen King at 15H55 and King's notations in Decker Exhibit #4 (DE4) shows the press had knowledge Oswald was in custody "within an hour of Oswald's arrest." (10:00 AM, New Zealand time.) In fact, King points out there was a live TV news broadcast concerning Oswald at 3:26 PM (10:26 AM, New Zealand time.)

To me and by Prouty's own admission the newspaper had at least one and possibly one and a half hours to get the Extra on the street. To make this perfectly clear, we can convert Dallas events to Prouty's time zone (New Zealand). Kennedy is shot at 7:30 AM. Oswald arrives at the jail at 9:00 AM. The press knew of Oswald's being in custody by 10:00 AM, and could start their research on him. The wire services would actually be competing to get the facts out to their subscribers. King's live TV coverage commenced at 10:26 AM. In essence, the New Zealand newspaper would have from shortly after 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM to get the Extra out. Remember an Extra is not a complete newspaper. It is a quick "replating" usually of the front and back pages containing a compilation of immediate facts on a specific subject.

We next tackle the question of "By what process could the wire services have acquired, collated, evaluated, written, and then transmitted all that material about an unknown young man named Lee Harvey Oswald . . ."

Prouty is old enough to remember that Oswald was not unknown. In November of 1959 the newspapers were alive with articles about young men deserting to the Soviet Union. In a rather brief period there were detailed reports not only about Oswald's defection but that of Nicholas Petrulli and Robert Webster. There was also extensive coverage of each individuals return to the United States during May and June of 1962.

Specific to Prouty's claims about Oswald:

"defected to the Soviet Union in 1959"

This was reported along with the Petrulli/Webster defections in The Washington Post, 11/01/59, the Washington Evening Star, 11/25/59 and the New York Times, 11/01/59.

"returned to the United States in 1962"

Reported in The Washington Post, 06/09/62 with additional notes that a total of three Americans had returned home. Besides Oswald, Webster returned as an immigrant in May, 1962 and David Johnson returned with his wife and twin sons within a week of his defection.

"has a [Russian] wife and child"

Reported in The Washington Post, 06/09/62.

"worked in a factory in Minsk"

I was unable to find an appropriate New York or Washington press citation for this item although it was well reported in the Dallas/Fort Worth newspapers.

"went to the USSR following discharge from the Marine Corps"

The Washington Post, 11/01/59, The Washington Post, 11/16/59, the Washington Evening Star, 11/25/59 and the New York Times, 11/01/59.

"became disillusioned with life there [in the USSR]"

The Washington Post of 6/9/62 reported that Oswald was returning to the United States and although he had given no reason for his return, "David Johnson, a Philadelphia railroad worker, and his wife and twin sons returned after becoming disillusioned in one week with the Soviet Union."

"Soviet authorities had given him permission to return with his wife and child"

The Washington Post, 06/09/62.

"had been chairman of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee"

Colonel Prouty forgets that Oswald on or about August 10, 1963 while in New Orleans had "approached the city editor of 'The States-Item' newspaper, cajoling him to give more coverage to the FPCC campaign." Later he had an altercation with some anti-Castro Cubans which resulted in his arrest. On August 16, Oswald was filmed by WDSU and WWL passing out FPCC leaflets. He was contacted by the local radio station and appeared espousing Marxist and FPCC views on the radio show Latin Listening Post.

"In a long account in the Christchurch Star about Lee Harvey Oswald -- which included that fine studio portrait in a business suit, white shirt, and tie -- these press services provided . . ."

This photograph appeared on page two of the Fort Worth Press, 11/16/59 with an article by Kent Bifle entitled "Turncoat Hangs Up on Mother."

In my view there are many legitimate pro-conspiracy researchers that spend much time refuting the distortions printed by authors such as Prouty. Prouty only succeeds in confusing the novices and clouding the historical record. As friend and fellow researcher Harold Weisberg once said "If it won't sell, if it doesn't fit their theories then they will make it up."

Copyright 1993 by David B. Perry    All rights reserved

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