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CTKA formerly published Probe Magazine. Most of the articles on this site first appeared in Probe. We will occasionally add new articles as appropriate.
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Jim DiEugenio analyzes and summarizes Larry Hancock’s interesting and unique new book Nexus: The CIA and Political Assassination
Jim DiEugenio reviews the work of Chris Matthews on the life and death
of President Kennedy, including his latest biography, “Jack Kennedy:
Mark Lane’s latest book,
The Last Word: My
Indictment of the CIA in the Murder of JFK.”
Review by Martin Hay
BETRAYAL IN DALLAS: LBJ, the Pearl Street Mafia, and the Murder of President Kennedy
Reviewed by William Davy
The Second Dallas, a DVD Robert Kennedy documentary produced, written and directed by Massimo Mazzucco. Reviewed by Jim DiEugenio
The Connally Bullet Powerful evidence that Connally was hit by a bullet from a different assassin, by Robert Harris
Journalists and JFK, those who were in and around Dealey Plaza that day and those who made a career of the case afterwards.
Intro By Gary King.
Joseph Green on the late Manning Marable’s new full scale biography of Malcolm X.
JFK and the Majestic Papers: The History of a Hoax by Seamus Coogan
– and –
Seamus Coogan on Joseph Farrell’s new book LBJ and the Conspiracy to Kill Kennedy: A Coalescence of Interests
A Comprehensive Review by David Mantik of Hear No Evil: Social Constructivism and the Forensic Evidence in the Kennedy Assassination
by Donald Byron Thomas
The Real Wikipedia? by JP Mroz and Jim DiEugenio (3 part series)
Sirhan and the RFK Assassination
Part I: The Grand Illusion Part II: Rubik’s Cube by Lisa Pease
Who is Anton Batey?
CTKA takes a close look at a most curious radio host who is a JFK denier, Chomskyite, and yet happens to be in league with John McAdams and David Von Pein. Yep, its all true.
Inside the ARRB Reviews of Douglas Horne’s multi-volume study of the declassified medical evidence in the JFK case. Reviewed by Jim DiEugenio, David Mantik and Gary Aguilar.
Exclusive excerpts from Mitchell Warriner’s long awaited new book on
the Jim Garrison investigation
Gary Aguilar and Pat Speercontinue to critique the work of Professor
John McAdams, “JFK Assassination Logic”
Billy Kelly does an update and addition to the Chicago plot to kill JFK.
Joseph Green reviews the new book edited by Caroline Kennedy and
Michael Beschloss, “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy”
Bill Davy continues our Wikipedia exposure series by examining an entry dealing with the JIm Garrison investigation.
The Real Wikipedia?
Will the Real Wikipedia Please Stand Up?
by J. P. Mroz
I: The Stakes
The events that served as a catalyst for this article can be traced back to early last summer, when Jim DiEugenio, as a guest on Len Osanic’s Black Op Radio (show #430, July 2, 2009), extended a collective challenge to David Reitzes, David Von Pein, John McAdams, and Gary Mack: “I will debate any part of my Bugliosi review to any one, or any more than one of them. … Let’s see if their arguments will stand up.”
The gauntlet was thrown. Eventually, after several weeks, John McAdams alone (and undoubtedly to the surprise of some) brazenly dared to reach down and pick it up.
The actual debate, which consisted of a well-planned format that traversed twenty key points of JFK assassination research—all agreed upon in advance by both parties, took place in the early fall of 2009 during two Black Op Radio shows. If you haven’t yet taken in this debate, then I highly recommend that you do.1
Why such a recommendation? Certainly not for the purpose of deciding “a winner.” First of all, let’s admit up-front that it is highly unlikely that any one of us who has taken an interest in this ongoing forty-six-plus year-old JFK debate—no matter what side we may by now have obligingly settled on—could ever truly consider ourselves impartial observers. And secondly, and more importantly, calling “a winner” to any such event would debase the topic itself, rendering it to the likes of a tawdry entertainment—a mere boxing match of sorts. And though boxing matches certainly do have their place, any discussion or debate about the murder of a president that took place in broad daylight within a major US metropolis some forty-six years ago demands higher and more careful scrutiny than one which would seek to make assessments by merely awarding pugilistic points.
So let us be willing to accept the reality that agreement will not always be possible. “Truth,” said the philosopher David Hume, “arises from disagreement among friends.” And here, perhaps, comes the ultimate test for truth-seekers, i.e., distinguishing between true and false “friends.” Because it logically follows that those who would knowingly mislead or misdirect cannot themselves be truth-seekers.
Which brings us to the central focus of this article: disinformation within JFK research data. But more specifically, a provable purveyor of such disinformation: that self-described “free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project,” aka, Wikipedia. But before laying out the details that expose Wikipedia’s hand in plying JFK assassination disinformation, let’s continue to explore the underlying significance of last fall’s debate, by setting our hands on some deeper ramifications.
JFK researchers will recognize that the real value that last fall’s debate provides must eclipse any aspect of “infotainment.” After all, if the audience for such a debate is one of merely entertaining “armchair sleuths” (the equivalent of TV “couch potatoes?”), then why not instead schedule debates on, say, OJ’s guilt or innocence? The obvious answer is that, in the grand scheme, JFK’s death still matters—greatly.
In the Introduction to his thought-provoking book, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, Jim Douglass explains:
In the course of my journey into Martin Luther King’s martyrdom, my eyes were opened to parallel questions in the murders of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Robert F. Kennedy. I went to Dallas, Chicago, New York, and other sites to interview witnesses. I studied critical government documents in each of their cases. Eventually I came to see all four of them together as four versions of the same story. JFK, Malcolm, Martin, and RFK were four proponents of change who were murdered by shadowy intelligence agencies using intermediaries and scapegoats under the cover of “plausible deniability.”2
The fact remains that the murder of John Kennedy in 1963, together with those that followed it—Malcolm X in ’65, and Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy in ’68—continue to have an enormous impact upon our lives even now as we near the close of the first decade of the 21st century. For one may convincingly argue that, during those four and-a-half inglorious years—November 22, 1963 through June 5, 1968, these four public executions did not happen in isolation but rather, taken as a whole, represent nothing less than a concerted cumulative right-wing putsch that effectively shot dead the very life of our democracy. What has been at stake over the intervening four and-a-half-plus decades, and remains at stake even now, then, is truly nothing less than the brutal decapitation of our democratic republic by a ruthless national security state intent on waging a covert war against “We the People.”
Proven disinformationists like John McAdams3 will, no doubt, scoff at such an idea, having us instead believe that it is merely coincidental that these four “proponents of change,“ in the span of some four and-a-half years, were so brutally and publically slaughtered by barrages of bullets. But the facts (or “factoids,” as Prof. McAdams is fond of calling them, and by this he really means any fact that he may take issue with in his attempts to misdirect) suggest otherwise. And though the scope of this article will not permit a thorough exploration of Douglass’ premise, its validity is one that nonetheless merits diligent pursuit and testing by dedicated assassination researchers. And this, always in the face of practiced disinformationists who would attempt to ridicule or shame those who might dare to consider, let alone glimpse, the bigger picture. For isn’t this a primary objective in the dissemination of disinformation? To frame within the lowest levels of abstraction those most crucial issues that affect our well-being, not only for the purpose of confusing us but also to distract us from, and thus obstruct, the viewing of “the big picture?”
The key point about the debate comes not from our goading on two adept competitors engaged in a point – counterpoint exchange, but instead, we ourselves being goaded by the depth of the ramifications their exchanges reveal, goaded on to greater reflection. And then the question of whether or not we come to agree or disagree with the terrain that our individual reflections may eventually cover becomes almost immaterial when compared to the catalysts that spur each of us, as true free-thinkers and “friends,” on to discerning interaction. For, as David Hume reminds us, thus arises truth.
II: Matters of Credibility
“I regard it as a pseudonym and I don’t really have a problem with it.” ~Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales’ initial response to the so-called “Essjay controversy.”
Judging from the feedback to Black Op Radio, the debate seemed to have attracted a wide audience. Yet, even after McAdams and DiEugenio had parried through hours of point – counterpoint swaps and swipes, two overarching questions seemed to persist: To what value? For what purpose?
As visitors to http://www.ctka.net are well aware, the site not only provides a wealth of information on the Kennedy assassination but also advocates that its readership go beyond the assimilation of this information. CTKA regularly posts Action Alerts, prompting its readers to take action by writing to key people in the media in regard to the dissemination of JFK disinformation. So with the fallout of feedback on last fall’s debate, especially in regard to points of disinformation, Jim DiEugenio advised Len Osanic’s Black Op Radio listeners in the same vein: “I think that we should encourage your listeners to go ahead and start putting things from, say, the CTKA site, or articles from the Mary Farrell site, or articles from the History Matters site—start putting them on Wikipedia. Let’s start doing that to counteract what McAdams is doing.”
On the surface, this seemed like a good idea. At the same time, I had my reservations. Because, over the last several years, I had loosely followed the ongoing saga about Wikipedia’s (un)reliability as a source of information, as well as the accusation by some that, on issues of greatest import (i.e., the JFK assassination and 911, to name just two), Wikipedia is a source of disinformation. But before exploring that question, let’s first get a glimpse of a pair of incidents that have prominently raised the question of Wikipedia’s credibility. Because such a glimpse provides an entryway into the larger issue of Wikipedia’s role as a source of disinformation.
The case of Wikipedia’s credibility is illustrated by two incidents that have been widely detailed and discussed both over the Internet and in print and broadcast media. Let’s briefly recount them here. First, in late 2005, came the notorious “Seigenthaler incident.” In a November 29, 2005 USA Today editorial entitled, A False Wikipedia ’Biography’ 4, John Seigenthaler, himself, laid out the case for questioning Wikipedia’s competence as a reliable source of information. His complaint was triggered by this false claim that appeared within his Wikipedia biographical entry:
John Seigenthaler Sr. was the assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the early 1960’s. For a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever proven.5
Now, most serious JFK researchers are aware that John Seigenthaler was a dedicated Kennedy supporter. In fact, in 1961, Seigenthaler resigned his position as a noted staff writer for The Tennesseean so he might serve as an administrative assistant to newly sworn Attorney General, Robert Kennedy. But it wasn’t just for desk duty that Siegenthaler traded in his promising career in journalism for (what turned out to be) a brief stint in politics. Real field work soon evolved. During the Freedom Rides of May 1961, Seigenthaler was called upon to serve as chief negotiator in the DOJ’s attempts to ensure protection for the Freedom Riders. And despite assurances from the Governor of Alabama, John Patterson, that protection would be provided, as the Riders approached Montgomery their promised state police escort all but evaporated, leaving them easy prey for an unruly racist mob lying in wait. During the ensuing attack upon the Riders, Seigenthaler was struck by a pipe and knocked unconscious.
The preceding very brief encapsulation on Seigenthaler is a matter of an uncontested public record. So it is with such “bona fides” that one can more clearly view the perniciousness of the hoax perpetrated on Seigenthaler four decades later via Wikipedia. And the facts about this incident, as Seigenthaler describes them, make it difficult to view Wikipedia as completely innocent in the perpetration of the hoax. According to Seigenthaler, despite his earnest efforts to have Wikipedia expunge the above quoted defamatory statement, it nonetheless remained intact within his Wikipedia biographical entry for a period of more than four months: May 26, 2005 through October 5, 2005. Finally, after pleas to Wikipedia co-founder, Jimmy Wales, it was deleted.
Why more than four months to correct such a blatant defamatory statement? No doubt, there is a long list of viable answers that might explain Wikipedia’s (in)action. But at the top of that list would have to be the Communications Decency Act passed by congress in 1996. To quote from Seigenthaler’s 11/29/2005 USA Today editorial:
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, passed in 1996, specifically states that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker.” That legalese means that, unlike print and broadcast companies, online service providers cannot be sued for disseminating defamatory attacks on citizens posted by others.6
In other words, without the threat of a lawsuit, Wikipedia has little incentive to correct any defamatory statements about anyone. So it would appear that, when it comes to a question of defamation, the court of public opinion is the only one that Wikipedia truly fears. Eventually Wikipedia did cede to Seigenthaler by making the necessary corrections he had requested. But what does this incident say about Wikipedia’s priorities, let alone any responsible journalistic oversight, when it took more than four months, the looming threat of bad publicity, and finally, the grace of Jimmy Wales to relent?
A little over a year later, scandal struck again, this time with the so-called “Essjay Controversy.”7 And the spark that produced this Wiki-conflagration was an article written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Stacy Schiff. Entitled, Know it All: Can Wikipedia Conquer Expertise?8, the article appeared in the July 31, 2006 edition of The New Yorker. Some six months later, in February 2007, Ms. Schiff was given a resounding answer to her article’s leading question.
It seems that a major source for Schiff’s article was one “Essjay,” a Wikipedia administrator who, hiding behind a Wikipedia screen name (as, by the way, all Wikipedia administrators do), represented himself to Schiff as a “tenured professor of religion at a private university.” He also claimed to “hold a Ph. D. in theology and a degree in canon law and [to have] written or contributed to sixteen thousand [Wikipedia] entries.” As circumstances would later reveal, “Essjay,”—real name, Ryan Jordan—had yet to earn even a single degree from any reputable undergraduate institution. In fact, at the time when Schiff interviewed Essjay/Jordan for her article, he was a twenty-four year old community college drop-out. So much for Wikipedia credentials.
In late February 2007, largely on the prompting of Wikipedia critic, Daniel Brandt, The New Yorker provided an Editor’s Note as an addendum to Schiff’s article, stating (among other things) that:
Essjay was recommended to Ms. Schiff as a source by a member of Wikipedia’s management team because of his respected position within the Wikipedia community. He was willing to describe his work as a Wikipedia administrator but would not identify himself other than by confirming the biographical details that appeared on his user page. At the time of publication, neither we nor Wikipedia knew Essjay’s real name. Essjay’s entire Wikipedia life was conducted with only a user name; anonymity is common for Wikipedia administrators and contributors, and he says that he feared personal retribution from those he had ruled against online.9
And what was Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales’ response to such deception from within his ranks? Later, he did publically distance himself from Essjay/Jordan and his inventively imagined credentials. But Wales’ immediate reply was telling. The February 2007 Editor’s Note to Schiff’s article quoted Wales as saying: “I regard it as a pseudonym and I don’t really have a problem with it.”
Now one may find, based upon his resolving the four-month-long lingering Seigenthaler scandal, that Jimmy Wales has a big heart. But judging from this initial statement regarding the Essjay controversy, one would have to ask,: “What exactly was going on upstairs in that head of yours, Mr. Wales?”10 A mere misstep brought about by the use of a pseudonym? Could Wales have been serious? The dismissive nature of his reaction, which Wales had to have known would be published for all to read in a major periodical, The New Yorker, seems to reveal a naiveté betraying blindness of immense proportions. And as we shall see, such a blind eye at the top, whether intentional or not, fosters an army of equally blind and biased Wiki-worker-bees whose collective anonymous swarm provides the cover of obfuscation for what, on certain controversial subjects, can be called a disinformation machine.
III: First Steps
“The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.” ~Socrates
If Socrates is correct, then we owe ourselves at least a small digression here in order to come to grips with the definition of the central term of this article, i.e., disinformation. For if we’re to be at all successful at unearthing it, we must first be able hold in our minds the strongest possible image of what it is we’re looking to uncover.
James H. Fetzer, Ph. D., tells us, quite matter-of-factly, that “disinformation involves the dissemination of incomplete, inaccurate, or otherwise misleading information with the objective, goal, or aim of deceiving others about the truth.”11
Within his carefully worded definition, Fetzer exposes four inextricably linked essential elements that are present in any piece of disinformation: (1) source, (2) object (3) (il)logical means12, and (4) intentionality. Let’s briefly explore Fetzer’s definition by taking apart its key pieces so that we can come to a greater understanding of the extent of its practical application. And then apply it to the subject at hand.
Fetzer’s definition recognizes the possibility of any configuration of individuals or groups acting either alone or together, with or without government or intelligence agencies, whether covert or not (though, most likely, they will be), as a potential source of disinformation.
The definition provides a key phrase that sets off specific intentional limits: “incomplete, inaccurate, or otherwise misleading information,” as a means of focusing it upon the second essential element, i.e., the object, which will always be some form of distorted data. And here, within this essential element of distorted data, are also inextricably entwined the remaining two essential elements—(il)logical means and intentionality. For if one can prove that the object for dissemination has in fact been distorted, either through its “incompleteness,” its “inaccuracy,” or through its ability to somehow otherwise “mislead,” (e.g., fabrication of evidence) then it logically follows that one steps that much closer to the questions of “How?”, the (il)logical means, and thus, “Why?”, the intention.
Let’s briefly examine a piece of JFK disinformation as a means of illustrating the point.
The “Tague Bullet”: In support of Oswald as the lone assassin, the disinformationist13 here argues that Oswald alone fired a Mannlicher Carcano—which uses copper-coated bullets—from the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. But what about the lack of copper jacket on the curbstone recovered from whatever it was that struck James Tague?
No problem. Upon striking the pavement, that copper jacket must have been entirely sheared from the bullet. (Or with Gerald Posner, the twigs of an oak tree miraculously stripped the jacket from the projectile.) Here, the distorted data is the conclusion itself, revealing the logical fallacy of circular reasoning (i.e., by implication: Oswald fired copper-coated bullets from a Mannlicher Carcano, and so the James Tague strike must have had its copper jacket stripped by striking the pavement because copper coated bullets are the only ones used in a Mannlicher Carcano and that’s what Oswald fired).
Again, for emphasis: The point illustrated is that the distorted data that the disinformationist presents will most often be coupled with a(n) (il)logical means that upon close examination will, in turn, reveal an underlying logical fallacy. (Instances of fabricated evidence present exceptional cases to this general rule). For the purpose of a facile illustration, the above example of circular reasoning is blatant. One must recognize, however, that not all examples will be so. More subtle cases of disinformation will involve, in varying degrees, traditional logical fallacies of, say, Special Pleading, Appeal to Authority, Hasty Generalization, Straw Man, Red Herring, etc.14 15 The point being that, buried within most pieces of disinformation, one will inevitably find an underlying logical fallacy that serves as a (futile) support for the disinformationist’s distorted data. The importance of this point will become increasingly apparent as we review a specific example of JFK disinformation put forward by Wikipedia.
Finally, we come to the fourth and final essential element exposed by Fetzer’s definition of disinformation, i.e., intentionality, for in order to categorize any piece of information as disinformation, one must first be able to demonstrate within reasonable conclusive limits intent to deceive. And this is because, though one may be guilty of faulty reasoning or research, one may, at the same time, be innocent of any intent at deception. Thus, without reasonable proof of intent to deceive, it follows that the purveyor of the information in question may himself be either misinformed, or worse, incompetent in his own reasoning or research. Thus, in either case, without a proven intent to deceive, the object of dissemination cannot truly be called disinformation, but is instead misinformation.
In sum, as one writer on disinformation has so succinctly put it: “Disinformation requires intentionality while misinformation does not.”16 And as we shall also see in the case of Wikipedia, exposing its motive of deception, its intentionality, is key to understanding its role as a purveyor of JFK disinformation.
IV: Poking Around the Hive
“That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe for the moral and mutual instruction of man and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature when she made them like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.” (Thomas Jefferson, 1813) ~from Wikipedia Administrator Rodhullandemu’s profile page
Wikipedia—which gets its name from the Hawaiian word “wiki,” meaning “fast”—bills itself as, “a free content encyclopedia that can be read or edited by anyone.” “Imagine a world in which every single person is given free access to the sum of all knowledge. That’s what we’re doing.”17 This is what Jimmy Wales would have us believe.
But shouldn’t “the sum of all knowledge” also include crucial JFK research data that has been available in the public domain for decades? As I previously pointed out, Jim DiEugenio’s suggestion earlier this year that Black Op Radio listeners take up the challenge of updating Wikipedia seemed, on the surface, a practical one. Yet, as I also stated, even before taking on the challenge, I did have my doubts. How can I explain it? Let’s see: (1) Fast; (2); Anyone can edit; (3) The sum of all knowledge; (4) The Truth about the JFK assassination. I don’t know—call it intuition if you must—but somehow, somewhere, I sensed a Wiki-roadblock looming up ahead.
At the same time, the thought did occur to me that perhaps Jim D.’s challenge did hold real promise. Not in any advance that could be made by any number of users actually updating Wikipedia with crucial JFK assassination research data, but rather, in discovering where exactly Wikipedia might “choose to draw its line in the sand.” At which point in the JFK case, I began to wonder, would those buzzing anonymous administrators who are empowered with controlling the Wikipedia “free edit process” be forced to bring it to an abrupt halt, saying in effect by their oversight actions, “This far and no farther.”?
As I have previously stated, I had suspected that Wikipedia was in fact carefully controlling the information surrounding events of far-reaching import, namely, both the JFK assassination and 911. In fact, by letting the Siegenthaler libel hang around and gain publicity, that tended to paint JFK researchers who contributed as goofy. I was hardly alone in my suspicions. To name just a few who have voiced them: On his forum, John Simkin has devoted several pages of discussion to the topic of Wikipedia as an agent of disinformation in JFK research18. Jim Fetzer has on numerous occasions also discussed the same topic in relation to both JFK and 911.19 And, in the course of attempting to correct verifiably false information on the Wikipedia entry for Fletcher Prouty, Len Osanic, of Black Op Radio, has had his own run-ins with the “Wiki-buzzsaw.”20
Though Wikipedia is often called “egalitarian” and “anti-elitist” because, after all, “anyone can edit,” the practical nature of the situation proves otherwise. One can state with absolute certainty that any edits to any Wikipedia articles that touch upon any level of public controversy—such as the JFK assassination or 911— will only be allowed to stand if such edits already conform to Wikipedia’s so-called Neutral Point Of View, or in Wiki-speak, NPOV. (Caveat Emptor: the onset of the condition known as “group think” has been traced to the perusal of NPOV 😉
Now at this point, in order to better understand Wikipedia’s NPOV, we could begin to explore the background history that led to its ongoing development and evolution. As others have, we would first talk philosophy and perhaps epistemology. It would inevitably take us into a discussion about that other co-founder, Larry Sanger (who Jimmy Wales denies was ever a co-founder), and Sanger’s mother-of-all-edit-war-stories that touched upon those prickly issues of authority and anarchy and “who rules.” Which opened the way for the sacred word of the relativity-of-truth, but which eventually tarnished Sanger with such disrepute that, in December 2001, the dot-com bust seemed just as good an excuse as any for that other co-founder (who still insists he’s not a co-founder but, really and truly, the one and only) to send Sanger packing, leaving behind in his roiling rancorous wake the torment and pangs from which grew the mission that fostered the word of the book of NPOV.
But I’ll spare the mythos and saga. Not only because it’s already been told21, but because it’s also a distraction. “Sometimes,” as the saying goes, “the view from the sidelines is best.” But in order to appreciate that view, in order to understand the true nature of the hive, you’ll first need to inspect its basic structural mechanism.
Wikipedia polices its site through a hierarchical structure that has administrators (“admins” or “sysops” in Wiki-speak) operating above the level of the common Wikipedia user-editor. The clout that Wiki administrators have over the anyone-is-free-to-edit Wiki-user includes at the very least the ability to: (1) delete entire articles or sections of articles; (2) protect articles from further edits by blocking specific users; (3) “revert” (Wiki-speak for “reinstate”) text more efficiently; and (4) monitor a compiled “watchlist” (Wiki-speak for a list of Wikipedia entries over which an administrator claims oversight). And when, for any reason, such administrative policing powers might prove themselves insufficient at resolving conflict, there is first, the Mediation Committee (Wiki-speak: MedCom), and then, when absolutely necessary, Wikipedia’s own equivalent of a Supreme Court: the Arbitration Committee (ArbCom). According to its own description, ArbCom “has the authority to impose binding solutions to disputes between editors.” (Beginning to smell a faint sweet scent of elitism wafting from those “anti-elitist” combs? Read on.)
Yes, sandwiched in between admins, MedCom, and ArbCom there are also (1) bots , i.e., “automated or semi-automated tools that carry out repetitive and mundane tasks in order to maintain … English Wikipedia articles;” (2) bureaucrats, who are granted the power to “promote other users to administrator or bureaucrat status, grant and revoke an account’s bot status, and rename accounts;” and (3) stewards, who are granted the power to “change any and all user rights and groups;” and (4) a host of other Wiki-levers-and-pulleys.
Far from egalitarian, it sounds like a hierarchical bureaucracy to me.
Now I’m quite sure that the Wiki-speak that describes its NPOV and ArbCom processes is bound to placate the minds of the average avid Wiki-worker-bee. And that same Wiki-speak may even go so far as to assuage the doubts of some genuine Wikipedia skeptics. But such an assuagement could not possibly arrive before any genuine skeptic has had a good look at data that accurately describes the demographics of the Wikipedia user population. Why? Because a compilation of accurate statistics, available as periodic snapshots, which could show us a true picture of Wikipedia user activity by user rank, would in turn show us which groups of users are actually performing the bulk of the work for Wikipedia. But a true skeptic would not stop there. A true skeptic would want to know the level of user activity by user rank for edits that reflect user conflicts and resolutions. Why? Because this data would tell us the actual number of conflict incidents, topic of conflict, number of users, ranks of users, and the user rank where the incident was finally resolved. In other words: When, how often, by whom, at what levels of rank, and for what topics is the “Wiki-utopian” NPOV invoked, and at what levels of rank are these conflicts finally resolved.
The problem here is that—no surprise—the user statistics that any genuine skeptic would want to see are not readily available on the Wikipedia site. The current (June, 2010) Users and Editors page for the English language quotes the current total number of registered users as 12,619,939. But don’t let this number mislead you because it cannot possibly reflect a true level of activity: A user could register an account, perform a single edit, and never again return. A more accurate statistic would be the total number of active registered users, which can be found on the Special Statistics page. Currently, there are a total of 139,664 such active registered users. And even that number cannot account for the bulk of Wikipedia activity performed, because it is all-inclusive of “users who have performed an action in the last 30 days.” Again, a single edit over the last 30 days might account for a huge majority of this total number of 139,664 “active registered users.” So we’re left guessing and wondering. Or are we?
Wikipedia does publish current numbers for its heaviest hitters—its Arbitration Committee (11 active members), bureaucrats (36 active users), stewards (0 active users), and administrators (1,732 active users). (The number of Arbitration Committee active members is found within the preceding link of the same name; numbers for bureaucrats, stewards and administrators are found within Special Statistics.) Now, there may be some overlap among these four ranks of users, but because these numbers are so relatively small, it’s a safe bet that any overlap will be statistically insignificant. So we’ll simply total all four groups to arrive at: 1,779 heavy-hitting users.
Exactly how heavy-hitting is this current group of 1,779 select users? In terms of the actual percentages of work that they perform, it appears that Wikipedia is not sharing that data with the public. But perhaps that question of the amount of work is moot. Perhaps the real question about heavy-hitting doesn’t involve a bit of heavy-lifting. Yes, “”Anyone can edit!”, but of the 139,664 registered users who made at least a single edit within the last 30 days, a very select group of only 1,779 users—1.27% of all active registered users— had the collective final say on whether or not any of those edits actually stuck around.
So the question becomes: Since such a relatively small select group of Wikipedia users is actually invoking its NPOV in order to determine “neutrality,” can the resulting point of view really be called “neutral?” I’ll leave the answer to that question for the reader to ponder, but in the meantime, here’s my own conclusion:
Since such a small select group of Wikipedia users retains absolute power over the finality of decisions involving all of its content, then Wikipedia’s NPOV is not just a mere contrivance, it is whatever its governing elite decides it will be.
Now before I began to take on Jim D.’s Black Op Radio challenge, I hadn’t yet plugged around in the Wiki-catacombs to the degree that I now have. So I only had just a sense of what I was up against. But enough so, I realized that finding where Wikipedia would “draw its line in the sand” would call for a careful plan of action: (1) No direct edits to any Wikipedia articles, as such edits would most likely be most visible through any administrator’s “watchlist;” and (2) Limit changes to only the External Link sections of Wikipedia articles.
And so, on February 15th of this year, I took on the challenge by first registering as a Wikipedia user with a “screen name” of: Monticello1826.22 Though, as of this writing, Wikipedia does not currently show a record for the screen name “Monticello1826” (and perhaps this is because I have been an inactive Wikipedia user since March 15, 2010), a “user talk page” for that screen name does still exist and can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Monticello1826
Over the course of one month, I proceeded to add a few articles to the External Link sections of Wikipedia entries that touched upon the JFK assassination. I started slowly and cautiously, according to the simple plan I described above, waiting up to a week between changes to see if they would “take.” And by and large they did. This contributions page shows a complete history of the actual changes I made under the Wikipedia screen name, Monticello1826, by simply adding links to the External Link sections of just four Wikipedia entries: (1) Vincent Bugliosi; (2) Gerald Posner; (3) Lee Harvey Oswald; and (4) Reclaiming History.
A link to Gaeton Fonzi’s Reply from a Conspiracy Believer23 added to Bugliosi’s Wikipedia entry on February 15th presented no problem. And neither did a link to Michael T. Griffith’s Hasty Judgment: A Reply to Gerald Posner—Why the JFK Case Is Not Closed24, added to Posner’s entry on the 21st, nor John Armstrong’s Harvey & Lee: How the CIA Framed Oswald25, to the Lee Harvey Oswald entry on the 27th. After three weeks without incident, I was beginning to feel I was erring too much on the side of caution. My next Wiki-move would be brash. It was time to test the limit.
So when I read the following paragraph within the “Backyard photos” section of the LHO entry, I knew I had found my tripwire:
These photos, widely recognized as some of the most significant evidence against Oswald, have been subjected to rigorous analysis. Photographic experts consulted by the HSCA panel concluded they were genuine, answering twenty-one points raised by critics. Marina Oswald has always maintained she took the photos herself, and the 1963 de Mohrenschildt print bearing Oswald’s signature clearly indicate they existed before the assassination. Nonetheless, some continue to contest their authenticity. After digitally analyzing the photograph of Oswald holding the rifle and paper, computer scientist Hany Farid concluded that it “almost certainly was not altered.”
Late Thursday night / early Friday morning, March 11th—12th, I inserted Jim Fetzer’s and Jim Marrs’ co-authored article, The Dartmouth JFK Photo Fiasco26, into the External Link section of Wikipedia’s LHO entry. The next morning, I awoke to find it had been removed. And there, waiting for me on my “Wiki-talk-page,” was the ultimatum, “this far and no farther,” the long-awaited Wiki-ticket.
V: That’s the Ticket
“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” ~The Wizard of Oz (1939), based on L. Frank Baum’s classic allegorical “children’s” tale, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
CONCORD, N.H. – The infamous photograph of Lee Harvey Oswald holding a rifle in his backyard would have been nearly impossible to fake, according to a new analysis by a Dartmouth College professor.27
So began the Holly Ramer blip on The Huffington Post that touched off a storm of controversy last fall. With the timing of its appearance, just two and-a-half weeks before the 46th anniversary of the assassination, and short on details but big on hype, Ramer’s post appeared designed to “stir the pot.” It did. Within the next several days, it generated high traffic for HuffPo, with more than 17 pages of comments from readers. Not bad results for a post of a mere 407 words.
“Over the years,“ we were told, “many others have pointed out what appear to be inconsistent lighting and shadows [in the Oswald backyard photos]. But Hany Farid, director of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth, said the shadows are exactly where they should be.” The HuffPo piece went on to explain that Farid, working with “modeling software, … was able to show that a single light source could create both a shadow falling behind Oswald and to his right and one directly under his nose,” and that “Farid’s latest finding … is in keeping with his earlier research that showed the human visual system does a poor job at judging whether cast shadows are correct.”
Much to their credit, HuffPo editors did permit a comment posted on November 19, 2009 by one of its readers, Michael David Morrissey, to remain at the top of the comment queue for all to read, where it remains still today. Morrissey’s comment directs readers of the HuffPo piece to “a thorough and devastating rebuttal to Farid on OpEdNews.” And what would that “thorough and devastating rebuttal” be? –none other than the same Fetzer and Marrs co-authored OpEDNews.com article, The Dartmouth JFK Photo Fiasco, that had just earned me my first (and last) Wiki-ticket.
For the benefit of those readers who have not yet had a chance to follow Fetzer’s and Marrs’ point-by-point rebuttal, let’s briefly focus on a few key points using the disinformation deconstruction technique covered in section III above. The source is, of course, Dartmouth Professor Hany Farid. And here, it is probably worth noting that, on the first page of his CV28, Prof. Farid acknowledges having received grants from: (1) the Department of Homeland Security (225K); (2) the U.S. Air Force (380K); (3) the Bureau of Justice Assistance (“a component of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice,” 29 125K); and (4) the National Institute of Justice (“the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice,”30 940K) ; totaling $1,670,000. In addition, Farid’s CV acknowledges grants from the National Science Foundation (“an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense … ”31) totaling $1,489,000. When one adds these two sums, one arrives at a total of $3,159,000 of government funding over the course of nine years.
Does money talk? Let’s find out.
Continuing now with the second of our four basic elements of disinformation (outlined above in section III), the object is, of course, Farid’s findings, which have been published in the online journal Perception.32 I invite the reader to step through Farid’s four page document, the title of which poses the leading question: The Lee Harvey Oswald photos, real or fake? But before even doing that, let’s save ourselves some time. According to our deconstruction technique, we should realize that in most pieces of disinformation, the object will show itself as distorted data. Recall also that, coupled with such distorted data, we should expect to find an (il)logical means. And in the case of Farid’s findings, one doesn’t have to go to any great length to uncover his distortion of data coupled with his illogic. Because as Jim Fetzer points out, Farid has limited his digital analysis of the photo(s):
He simply reconstructed portions of a backyard photo—we do not know which one he chose—but only seems to have reconstructed the head and neck, not a full figure corresponding to the image. Nor does he appear to have used the sun as his light source, which means that his “conclusion” is based upon a flawed methodology. Since digital photography did not exist in 1963, it is also relatively effortless to state—with a high degree of confidence—that no digital tampering of the original photos took place.33
So at the highest level of Farid’s study, Fetzer justifiably calls Farid to task for having “violated a basic canon of scientific research, which is that all the available evidence that makes a difference to a conclusion must be taken into account. It is impossible to demonstrate that a photo is not fake by selecting one issue, excluding consideration of the rest of the evidence, and showing that it would have been possible under special conditions.”34 Simply put, Farid’s distortion of data is the limitation of his digital reconstruction to just “the head and neck, [and] not a full figure corresponding to the image,” along with his failure “to have used the sun as his light source.”35 And the illogic that is coupled with Farid’s distortion of data? Farid has, as they say, “stacked the deck.”36
Now that we have covered the first three elements in our deconstruction, i.e., source, object, and (il)logical means, there remains just one for our consideration, intentionality. Here, Fetzer best sums the situation:
Farid has in fact published numerous articles regarding the use of digital analysis of photographs, which suggests that he possesses the academic ability to have analyzed them properly. Even on our charitable interpretation—that he was simply unaware of other problems and had not done a search of the literature to dispel his ignorance—then at the very least we would expect that his analysis of the nose shadows would be competent.
His conclusion supports our inference. If Farid studied more than one of these photographs, as he claims, then he should have noticed that the nose shadow remains constant across different photos, an obvious indication of fakery. In fact, the figure’s entire face remains constant in these different photographs. Either he did not know there was more than one or he is deliberately deceiving us.37 (emphasis added)
Clearly, Farid demonstrates a level of competence as both an academic and as a digital forensic analyst—so much so that, as already pointed out, Farid has been the benefactor of at least $3,159,000 from key segments of our government.
With that background in mind, one should now have a greater appreciation for Fetzer’s and Marrs’ article as the “tripwire” that led to the expected Wiki-ticket, –which, by the way, still stands on my Wiki-talk-page, and reads as follows:
Welcome to Wikipedia. Although everyone is welcome to contribute to the encyclopedia, one or more of the external links you added to the page Lee Harvey Oswald do not comply with our guidelines for external links and have been removed. Wikipedia is not a collection of links; nor should it be used as a platform for advertising or promotion, and doing so is contrary to the goals of this project. Because Wikipedia uses nofollow tags, external links do not alter search engine rankings. If you feel the link should be added to the article, please discuss it on the article’s talk page before reinserting it. Please take a look at the welcome page to learn more about contributing to this encyclopedia. Thank you. Rodhullandemu 00:32, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Now in the real world, should one be stopped for a traffic violation, say, one at least has the physicality of the experience serving as an anchor to the reality of the situation. Here, by contrast, we have the anonymity of one, Rodhullandemu, whose only evidence of physicality are the keystrokes that he’s left behind on my Wiki-talk-page. And the most curious thing about the content of his message is not so much what it tells me, but what it doesn’t. Yes, I’m told that an external link that I posted to the Wikipedia LHO entry does “not comply” with Wikipedia’s boilerplate guidelines for external links, but, “exactly which guidelines?” I’m left wondering. Further, Rodhullandemu goes on to explain, in ever so politely worded terms, that “Wikipedia is not a collection of links; nor should it be used as a platform for advertising or promotion, and doing so is contrary to the goals of this project.”
In its overt politeness and careful wording, Rodhullandemu’s response appeared to be the work of one practiced in the art of Wiki-etiquette. The response told me nothing about exactly why the external link to the Fetzer /Marrs article had been removed, but what it did tell me was that, if he wasn’t already a Wikipedia administrator, bot, bureaucrat, or steward, then Rodhullandemu was certainly auditioning to Wiki-higher-ups for the part.
Yes, I had activated a tripwire. And yes, just as expected, they had drawn their line in the sand. And though I certainly didn’t expect any official email from a Wiki-oversight-committee stating their policy on such controversial issues as the JFK assassination, I was, nonetheless, interested in what further information I could possibly draw out from this Rodhullandemu, and whoever else might have placed the Wikipedia LHO entry on their Wiki-watchlist. And I wasn’t without my suspicions. During the weeks before I received that fateful Wiki-ticket, I had been poking around in the hive and had come across someone who might be holding such a strong proprietary interest over the LHO entry. So strong, in fact, that he probably had placed it right at the top of his Wiki-watchlist, which, of course, means that he comes from a pool of just 1,779 heavy-hitting Wiki-anti-elitist-elite. The suspect? The Wiki-admin, Gamaliel. But before we get to our prime suspect, Gamaliel, we should first return to Daniel Brandt, because Brandt provides such an inimitable means of introduction.
“If Jimbo Wales is the God of the Wikipedia cult,” hypothesizes one critical web site38, “then “Daniel Leslie Brandt is the devil who makes them go into hissy fits by force-feeding them the apple of truth.” Remember Mr. Brandt? He’s the man whose February 2007 letter forced The New Yorker to include their Editor’s addendum to Stacy Schiff’s article, which in turned exposed the Essjay Controversy. Well, Brandt, who has resoundingly prevailed in his own private war with Wikipedia, has, over the course of his battling, taken to exposing as many of the Wiki-anti-elitist-elite as he possibly can. Why? One of Brandt’s biggest qualms with Wikipedia is that it operates under the cover of blanket anonymity, which, in turn, holds no one accountable for any content. As Brandt puts it, “There is a problem with the structure of Wikipedia. The basic problem is that no one, neither the Trustees of Wikimedia Foundation, nor the volunteers who are connected with Wikipedia, consider themselves responsible for the content. If you don’t believe me, then carefully read Wikipedia’s disclaimer. … The very structure of Wikipedia is geared toward maximum anonymity and minimum accountability.”39
So Brandt has taken to poking the hive vigorously by “outing” a swarm of drones. His web site, http://www.wikipedia-watch.org (a wonderful source of information that the ruling cabal at Wikipedia would probably prefer you didn’t have access to), contains a table of prominent Wiki-worker-bees listing screen names and user rank, alongside real-world information, which includes, at the very least: name and location; and in more than a few cases, age, date of birth, real-world professional title and place of employment, as well as a convenient thumbprint photo.40 (In case you happen bump into them at your local supermarket?)
At the top of the list is, of course, Jimmy Wales. But if you page down just sixteen names from the top, you will find our prime suspect, the Wiki-admin, Gamaliel, who in real-life is (according to Brandt’s table), Robert (Rob) Fernandez, of Tampa, Florida, USA. It seems that, during the course of his battles with Wikipedia, Mr. Fernandez must have taken to extremes in rubbing Mr. Brandt the wrong way, because in addition to appearing on Brandt’s Wikipedia’s Hive Mind page, Brandt also went to the trouble of saving an old webpage of Fernandez’s that Fernandez “had forgotten to take down.” Why did Brandt save Fernandez’s old webpage? “I moved it to my site as soon as I discovered it, because I knew he would whitewash it.” explains Brandt. (emphasis added) This concept, of conveniently erasing a problematic past act, figures prominently in Fernandez’s career as a gatekeeper.
This old page that Brandt saved is of interest here because it tells us a little more about Gamaliel/Fernandez than he is probably willing to divulge now on Wikipedia. If you check out that saved webpage (as I had before receiving my Wiki-ticket), you will find a small self-descriptive blurb from Gamaliel/Fernandez:
I spend most of my time on the web at a site called Everything2, an amazing project which is something like a user generated encyclopedia with a community built around it. I’m a volunteer Content Editor on the site, where I go by the screen name Gamaliel. Drop by and check it out, you’ll be surprised.
I invite the reader to navigate to Gamaliel’s/Fernandez’s Everything2 profile page. Perhaps, as Gamaliel/Fernandez promises, you, too, will be surprised.
What will probably not surprise the reader by now, however, is the proprietary interest that Gamaliel/Fernandez has taken to the Wikipedia Lee Harvey Oswald page. On his Wikipedia profile page, Gamaliel/Fernandez boasts:
What I’m proudest of and spent more time working on than anything else are my contributions to Lee Harvey Oswald. The Oswald entry is even mentioned in a newspaper article (broken link) on wikipedia. If you want to witness insanity firsthand, try monitoring these articles for conspiracy nonsense.
So having done ample poking around in advance of receiving my Wiki-ticket, I was that much more suspicious of Rodhullandemu’s overt civility. It was clear to me that the real point-man on the Wikipedia LHO entry—to which I had added the Fetzer/Marrs link—was Gamaliel/Fernandez. Rodhullandemu, was simply doing his chore-duty. (Which made me all the more convinced that Rodhullandemu was auditioning for a bigger role in the hive.)
Over the course of the weekend of March 13th–14th, I had some extended exchanges with Rodhullandemu via his Wiki-talk-page.41 Eventually, in the face of my arguments, Rodhullandemu relented, stating: “I do not want to get into a content-based argument with you and invite you to replace the link, and see what other editors make of it. I am not a gatekeeper for this, or any other article, and am not qualified to measure competing claims here.”
Hmm … Did I suspect a set-up here? Did I have any hint as to exactly who those “other editors” might turn out to be?
Suffice it to say that, in the interim that transpired after Rodhullandemu so cleanly dispatched me, I had the opportunity to take a few peeks at key parts of the ongoing internal dialogue from another Wiki-talk-page. Here, culled from more than a few furtive peeps, is just one telling Wiki-speak exchange:
Since I’m not all that big into the JFK/Oswald thing I’m not too concerned about maintaining my edits for this article. I added the opposing view because it looks like there is going to be a big blow-up over the photos. I have no interest in changing it back but if you are invested in this particular article you should probably be prepared for a lot of activity regarding the photos and the recent analysis. I have no doubt that a lot of high school and college folk pretty much pull the information for their JFK papers right out of the Wiki article and like you said, conspiracy people abound. -Preceding unsigned comment added by Grifterlake (talk o contribs) 00:22, 19 November 2009 (UTC)
Don’t worry, we have years of experience dealing with the conspiracy folks. If you are really bored, check out the talk page archives – it’s like a never ending series of car crashes. Gamaliel (talk) 00:26, 19 November 2009 (UTC)42
Further, this revealing comment by Gamaliel/Fernandez appears on the Wiki-LHO-talk-page within a discussion about the backyard photos:
As I said in my edit summary, conspiracy theorists take issue with every detail of the Kennedy assassination. To include each of their challenges would overwhelm the text. Gamaliel (talk) 22:22, 19 November 2009 (UTC)43 (emphasis added)
Here, the reader should note that, earlier this spring, I had been in touch with Jim DiEugenio about my research into Wikipedia and the events surrounding the removal of the Fetzer/Marrs external link from the Wikipedia LHO entry. Key in my correspondence to Jim was the above Gamaliel/Fernandez quote about “conspiracy theorists[’] issue[s] … overwhelm[ing] the text.” My comment to Jim was: So, in other words, all contributions contrary to the Krazy Kid Oswald Theory are dispatched & disposed within the Wiki black hole titled: John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories so as not to “overwhelm the text!” And things like the backyard photos being genuine, that Oswald ordered the rifle, that he manufactured a package to carry it to work, and that in the face of the legendary path of CE 399/the Magic Bullet, these are all not theories, but facts? To Gamaliel, that is the case. Therefore, The New York Times, Warren Report, Reclaiming History, and John McAdams’ web site are credible troves of “fact;” Probe Magazine is not.
During a subsequent Black Op Radio show44, Jim discussed these events, and focused specifically on Gamaliel’s/Fernandez’s policy for the exclusion of anything that might “overwhelm the text.” Jim’s take on Gamaliel’s/Fernandez’s justification? “This is just crazy. This is just nutty. Because the main argument is that the Warren Commission patched together a story after the fact. And there’s so many holes in that story—because it was patched together after the fact—that it’s like a sieve. That’s the whole argument—at least the main argument, I believe—against the Warren Commission and the FBI. So if you’re going to discount all that, then, yeah, you can dismiss all this stuff as to assassination conspiracy theories.”
In any event, as expected, Gamaliel/Fernandez deleted my link to the Fetzer/Marrs OpEd News article. It was actually anti-climactic to read Gamaliel’s/Fernandez’s reply to my request for information concerning the deletion of the Fetzer/Marrs article. What more could one expect but more Wiki-speak?
I concur with Rodhullandemu’s initial objections. A single blog post does not add a unique resource. The article is too broad of a topic to host links targeting only small parts of the article, and the source of this link is of dubious reliability. If you look at the links already on the article, they generally are not blogs commenting on small aspects, they are broad overviews or unique resources. Gamaliel (talk) 21:28, 15 March 2010 (UTC)45
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” ~from George Orwell’s 1949 dystopian novel, 1984
In our brief deconstruction analysis, we’ve seen that, unless one is unduly charitable, there is an extremely high probability that Hany Farid’s four-page study on the Oswald backyard photos is a blatant piece of disinformation. Do the people at Wikipedia know this? One cannot, of course, read their minds. But what we can do is observe their behavior: It should now be evident to the reader that Gamaliel’s/Fernandez’s policy of not “overwhelm[ing] the text” by excluding any counter discussion or external links to such counter discussion amounts to a policy of nothing less than blanket censorship. And such a policy of blanket censorship on Wikipedia’s LHO entry applies not just to questions and issues concerning the so-called “backyard photos,” but also to every other aspect of the entire Wikipedia LHO entry. It is necessary to look at this page because (1) Gamaliel/Fernandez himself says it is the work of which he is the “most proud;” (2) it tells us why Wales had an uncaring attitude about the Siegenthaler dust-up; and (3) it shows that Wales doesn’t give a damn about who works in his publishing company.
At the very top of the article, after a paragraph that briefly summarizes (1) Oswald’s arrest in the wake of the assassination of JFK and the killing of Officer J.D. Tippit; (2) his denial of being involved in either killing; and (3) his subsequent killing by Jack Ruby in front of live TV cameras in the basement of Dallas Police headquarters, we are told: “In 1964, the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald acted alone in assassinating Kennedy, a conclusion also reached by prior investigations carried out by the FBI and Dallas Police.”
From here on out to the end of the Wikipedia LHO entry, just about all of its information is in support of the Warren Commission Report’s 1964 conclusions. With the exception of a very brief and dismissive mention of the House Select Committee on Assassination’s (HSCA) 1979 assertion that there was a “ ‘high probability that two gunman fired’ at Kennedy and that Kennedy ‘was probably assassinated as the result of a conspiracy’, ” as well as the use of a few very selectively drawn conclusions from the HSCA that duly support the 1964 Commission’s conclusions, Gamaliel/Fernandez and those at Wikipedia who are supporting his policy of blanket censorship would have us believe that there have been absolutely no new developments in the ensuing 46+ years that would merit any direct mention in the LHO entry.
This is strongly proven by an analysis of the footnotes. In an essay of over 150 references, 11 are from the HSCA—which was the most recent federal inquiry into the case. Two are from Tony Summers’ book, Not in Your Lifetime, and two references are to the work of Don Thomas on the acoustics evidence that indicates two gunmen. In other words, of the library of several hundred books criticizing the Commission, Gamaliel/Fernandez used exactly one. The crucial work of Sylvia Meagher, Howard Roffman, Philip Melanson, Bill Davy, and John Newman do not exist for him or the readers of this essay. Which is bizarre, since it is largely that work that has placed the Warren Commission in disrepute to the point that Gamaliel/Fernnadez is one of the few who still believes it. But further, the work of Davy, Melanson, and Newman revolutionized the way we percieve Oswald. Which is not important to Gamaliel/Fernandez. The rest of the footnotes, about 90%, are to the Commission, and the likes of Gerald Posner, The Dallas Morning News, and Vincent Bugliosi. There is not one footnote to the files of Jim Garrison or the depositions of the Assassination Records and Review Board. In fact, the ARRB does not exist for Gamaliel/Fernandez. Which is stunning, since they enlarged the document base on Oswald and the Kennedy case by 100%. But since much of their work discredited the Commission, it gets the back of Gamaliel’s/Fernandez’s hand. If that is not Orwellian, then what is?
Just how bad is Gamaliel’s/Fernandez’s work here? This is the third paragraph, which appears at the end of the introduction: “In 1964, the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald acted alone in assassinating Kennedy, a conclusion also reached by prior investigations carried out by the FBI and Dallas Police.” He leaves out the following: (1) Oswald never had a trial; (2) the Commission never furnished him with a lawyer posthumously; (3) the FBI report was so bad it was not included in the Commission volumes; and (4) even Burt Griffin of the Commission suspected the Dallas Police helped Jack Ruby enter the jail to kill Oswald. So much for the “investigations” of the FBI and the Dallas Police. This gives us a good idea of what the rest of the essay will be like.
Some of the most conspicuous omissions from the Wikipedia LHO entry include the following:
Within the section: 1.5 Attempt on life of General Walker, there is absolutely no mention of Walker’s own contention to the HSCA that the bullet in evidence could not have been the one that was fired at him.46 Within the same section: 1.5 Attempt on life of General Walker, we are told that: “In March 1963, Oswald purchased a 6.5 mm caliber Carcano rifle (commonly but improperly called Mannlicher-Carcano) by mail, using the alias A. Hidell. as well as a revolver by the same method.”, but Gamaliel/Fernandez fails to tell us that since Hidell’s name was not on the application for that P.O. Box., Oswald, in fact, could NOT have retrieved the rifle from the P.O. box alleged to have been his.47 Within the same section: 1.5 Attempt on life of General Walker, despite the statement that: “neutron activation tests later showed that it was “extremely likely” that that it was made by the same manufacturer and for the same rifle make as the two bullets which later struck Kennedy.”, Gamaliel/Fernandez leaves out this: These same neutron activation analysis (NAA) tests have been thoroughly discredited by the independent work of Bill Tobin and Cliff Spiegelman48, and Eric Randich and Pat Grant.49
Within the section: 1.7 Mexico, there is absolutely no mention of either: (a) the findings of the Lopez Report that severely question Oswald’s presence in Mexico City; or (b) the FBI’s own finding that the CIA’s Mexico City tapes of Oswald could not in fact have been Oswald.50 Within the section: 1.9 Shootings of JFK and Officer Tippit: there is absolutely no mention of the problem involved with the chain of evidence in the four shells supposedly recovered from the Tippit shooting that are now in evidence.51
But perhaps no reference points out the utter dishonesty and unwarranted “pride” of Gamaliel/Fernandez than the footnote concerning Oswald’s Dallas post office box. This is where he was allegedly sent the Mannlicher Carcano rifle. This is the rifle the Commission named as the murder weapon. As alluded to above, and as the FBI knew, there was a serious problem with the application for that box. Anyone can see that by turning to Cadigan Exhibit 13 in Volume 19 of the Commission52 —Oswald’s application for the Dallas post office box. The problem here is that the rifle was ordered under the alias Hidell, yet the Dallas P.O. box was in the name of Lee Oswald. For the post office to deliver merchandise sent to an individual not named on the delivery box, two postal regulation rules had to be broken. Normally, under those circumstances, the rifle should have been returned to the mailer. So what did Gamaliel/Fernandez, or one of his cohorts like John McAdams, do to deceive the reader and get around this problem? They provided a link—footnote 115— to the application for Oswald’s post office box in New Orleans, the place where the rifle did not go. Why? Because Oswald signed his name and listed the names of Marina and Hidell on that particular application card—the one that has nothing to do with the Dallas P. O. box. (Please see Volume 17, p. 697.53) On July 5th, 2010, the false and misleading information that the Dallas box had both names—Oswald and Hidell—on it was in the text of the essay. It was gone the next day. But the telltale footnote referenced above remained. The deliberate substitution of false evidence—the contents of Volume 17 clearly labels that P. O. box application as New Orleans—in order to mislead and create a phony case against Oswald is pure disinformation in every aspect.
Apparently, any mention of the above proven facts risks “overwhelm[ing] the text.” Yet planting a false P. O. box does not. We could go on and on with further refuting evidence, but the above items amply demonstrate the purpose of Wikipedia’s LHO entry: i.e., to keep the reader safely within the sanitized walls of the Warren Commission’s 1964 duplicities that still attempt to peg Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin. In that regard, the entry may as well have been writen by Arlen Specter.The omission of such important—some would say crucial—information in Wikipedia’s LHO entry amounts to nothing less than “the sieve” approach that DiEugenio has described, i.e., an approach that selects only WCR and FBI criteria which have been “patched together after the fact” in order to name Oswald as the lone gunman assassin of JFK.
Recall that intentionality is a key element to disinformation; one must be able to demonstrate a source’s intent to deceive. And a blanket denial of all access to all refuting information is not just another way of “stacking the deck,” it is by its blanket nature revealing of its intentions: deception by outright censorship. Gamaliel’s/Fernandez’s comment regarding any attempts to break through such blanket censorship, i.e., “it’s like a never ending series of car crashes,” further reveals acknowledgement of, and complete confidence in, this blanket power of censorship.
Based upon our outlined careful means of deconstruction, one would have to be extremely charitable to conclude that Wikipedia’s LHO entry is anything but a carefully crafted piece of disinformation.
Most recent poll numbers expose the fact that a huge majority of Americans—upwards of 75%—would reject the findings of Wikipedia’s LHO entry.54 55 56 How then can Wikipedia’s 1964 sanitized version of events be seen as reflecting a neutral point of view? How can you possibly have reliable poll numbers that clearly demonstrate a resounding rejection of the Warren Commission’s findings, while at the same time, an online encyclopedia supposedly drawing its writers from the very same population sample that nonetheless demonstrates blanket support of the Commission’s findings? The simple reality of the situation reveals its absurd incongruity. Unless, of course, you happen to be among the elite 1.27% Wiki-worker-bees who happen to have the final say over the “neutrality” of Wikipedia’s NPOV. Then, it would appear that holding two contradictory pieces of information simultaneously in one’s mind while accepting both of them is obviously a practiced art.
So goes another day in Wiki-World: “A never ending series of car crashes” from which Gamaliel/Fernandez always escapes and which always escapes Gamaliel/Fernandez. One wonders if Orwell at his Newspeak best could ever have imagined it.
Jimmy Wales’ “people’s encyclopedia” is anything but.
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1. Listen to Black Op Radio show #442 Debate Part ONE, Debate Part TWO & #443 Debate Part THREE, Debate Part FOUR ; or read transcripts of this audio—MS Word format—at: Part ONE, Part TWO, Part THREE, Part FOUR
2. James W. Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, (Orbis Books, 2008), p. xvii
3. Read about John McAdams undercover work as a disinformationist using the alias “Paul Nolan” in section III of Jim DiEugenio’s review, Inside the Target Car, Part Three: How Gary Mack became Dan Rather
4. John Seigenthaler, A False Wikipedia ’Biography’, USA Today, November 29. 2005
7. If you dare trust it, read Wikipedia’s own take on the Essjay Controversy
8. Stacey Schiff, Know It All: Can Wikipedia Conquer Expertise?, The New Yorker, July 31, 2006
10. For an evidentiary record that may help explain just what was going on in Mr. Wales head, please see Daniel Brandt’s, The Essjay Evidence, March 4, 2007
11. James H. Fetzer, Disinformation, from http://www.assassinationscience.com
12. The term (il)logical is used here for two reasons. First, in order to distinguish it from any sense of physical means, which plays no role here in our discussion here on disinformation. And second, the parentheses around the prefix of the word “(il)logical,” is to alert the reader to the fact that though all disinformation may appear logical on the surface, upon closer inspection it will inevitably be found to be illogical.
13. This example of circular logic is implied by Vincent Bugliosi in regard to the Tague bullet. Read Jim DiEugenio’s Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, and Bugliosi’s Bungle, Part 7, section IV for a summary.
14. T. Edward Damer, Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments, (Wadsworth Publishing; 4th edition, 2000) “ATTACKING FAULTY REASONING is the most comprehensive, readable, and theoretically sound book on the common fallacies. It is designed to help one construct and evaluate arguments.”
15. Also worthy of exploration is this online resource: The Fallacy Files: Taxonomy of Logical Fallacies
17. Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Responds, Slashdot.com interview with Wales, July 28, 2004.
21.Marshall Poe, The Hive, The Atlantic, September, 2006
22. Sally Hemings aside, Jefferson remains a model for our country’s potential. Apparently, JFK also greatly admired the man, as his famous quote during a White House dinner honoring Nobel Prize winners attests: “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
26. Jim Fetzer and Jim Marrs, The Dartmouth JFK Photo Fiasco, OpEdNews.com, November 18, 2009
27. Holly Ramer, Hany Farid, Dartmouth Scienctist, Says Controversial Oswald Rifle Photo Real, Huffington Post, November 5, 2009
28. Hany Farid, Curriculum Vitae
32. Hany Farid, The Lee Harvey Oswald backyard photos: real or fake?, Perception, 2009, volume 38, pp. 1731 -1734.
33. Fetzer and Marrs, Ibid.
34. Fetzer and Marrs, Ibid.
35. Also, a view of this link: http://i35.tinypic.com/35bgozc.jpg, raises the legitimate question as to whether Farid’s study ever considered more than just one of the backyard photos.
36. Because there is much more below the surface that further demonstrates the invalidity of Farid’s findings, Fetzer’s and Marrs’ point-by-point refutation merits careful study. I invite the reader to examine the details that Farid presents, weigh these against those that Fetzer and Marrs present, and then come to his or her own conclusions based upon the evidentiary record.
37. Fetzer and Marrs, Ibid.
41. To read these exchanges in their entirety, go to: 13 Lee Harvey Oswald: External Link Deletion
42. Archived Wikipedia Talk Page, 33 Oswald Backyard Photographs, November 19, 2009
43. Archived Wikipedia Talk Page, Backyard photograph analysis becoming controversial, November 19, 2009
44. Black Op Radio, Show 470 with Jim DiEugenio, April 15, 2010
45. Archived Wikipedia Talk Page, 4 LHO entry: Removal of External Link to Fetzer/Marrs Article, November 19, 2009
46. James DiEugenio, Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, and Bugliosi’s Bungle, Part 1, ~from Section VII: “As Gerald McKnight notes in his fine section on the Walker shooting in Breach of Trust, the Dallas Police always referred to the bullet fired into Walker’s home as being a steel-jacketed 30.06 bullet. (p. 49) But in less than three weeks after the assassination the FBI now changed the bullet to a 6.5 caliber, copper-jacketed bullet. But Walker, who actually held the bullet in his hand, was stunned when he saw how the bullet had been changed while viewing it during the HSCA hearings. Walker was so shocked that he wrote letters to HSCA Chief Counsel Robert Blakey, Attorney General Griffin Bell, and the Dallas Police Chief all protesting the bullet substitution and how it compromised “the integrity of the record of the Kennedy assassination.” (Ibid, pgs 52-53) He wrote to Blakey in no uncertain terms: “The bullet before your Select Committee called the “Walker bullet” is not the Walker bullet. It is not the bullet that was fired at me and taken out of my house by the Dallas City Police on April 10, 1963.” (Armstrong p. 511) (But to show just how powerful the forces arrayed against Oswald were, the bullet today in the National Archives allegedly tied to the Walker case is copper-jacketed. See Armstrong, p. 507)”
47. John Armstrong, Harvey and Lee: How the CIA Framed Oswald, (Quasar Books, 2003), pp. 476 – 477
48. John Solomon, Scientists Cast Doubt on Kennedy Bullet Analysis, The Washington Post, May 17, 2007
49. Betty Mason, Challenge to lone gunman theory, Contra Costa Times, August 20,2006
50. Armstrong, Ibid., p. 651.
51. Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins, (Warner Books, 1991), pp. 198 – 200.
52. Warren Commission Report, Volume XIX, Cadigan Exhibit 13
53. Warren Commission Report, Volume XVII, p. 697: CE817, CE818, CE819
54. Lydia Saad, Americans: Kennedy Assassination a Conspiracy, Gallup, Inc., November 21, 2003
55. Gary Langer, John F. Kennedy’s Assassination Leaves a Legacy of Suspicion, ABC News, November 16, 2003
56. Dana Blanton, Poll: Most Believe ’Cover-Up’ of JFK Assassination Facts , Fox News, June 18, 2004
See Who’s Editing Wikipedia – Diebold, the CIA, a Campaign
By John Borland