Dead Wrong: Straight Facts On The Country’s Most Controversial Coverups, by Richard Belzer and David Wayne
For someone who is not really a big fan of conspiracy theories I read about them a lot, for one reason or another. There are a variety of insights one gains from a book like this one, even if it could have been about half as long if it had not felt the need to repeat itself so often, not only about the way that a great many people mistrust government, but also some of the ways that governments manage to communicate even to those who do not believe the stories about a given conspiracy. Whether or not you believe that the mafia as well as rogue CIA elements were responsible for JFK’s murder, or that the mafia killed Marilyn Monroe in an attempt to blackmail JFK and RFK but that the conspiracy was one of silence on the part of the government, this book does at least provide plenty of reasons why government can attempt to communicate even when it attempts to silence people or silence efforts to embarrass it. As someone who enjoys the darker side of communication, this is the sort of book I can wholeheartedly enjoy and recommend to others of like mind.
This book is about 300 pages long and it begins with a warning as well as introductions by both of its authors (at the end it contains an afterword by Jesse Ventura, who sought to use this book as a way of promoting his populist message, apparently). The body of the book consists of ten chapters that each deal with a different suspicious death which is discussed in great detail to see how the government’s cover story does not line up with various forensic evidence that demonstrates something more complex was afoot. The ten people are, in order: Frank Olson, the head of Special Operations for the CIA, defenestrated when he tried to leave the service, bothered by biological warfare during the Korean War and overly brutal interrogations, Henry Marshall, an inspector for the USDA who ran afoul of LBJ and his cronies, George Krutilek, an accountant who had the same problem as Marshall, Marilyn Monroe, JFK, MLK, RFK, Fred Hampton, black activist, Vincent Foster, White House counsel for Bill Clinton, and Dr. David C. Kelly, British weapons expert opposed to the Bush-Blair line for invading Iraq in 2003. The various discussions lead the reader to ponder some patterns and generally decrease trust in government and its operations.
Obviously, this book both depends and traffics in the suspicion of government that is so widespread at the moment. Some patterns are easy enough to see–suspicious deaths are a bipartisan matter and appear in times of crisis like the Cold War and our contemporary period. Additionally, there appears to be a fairly standard decision tree when it comes to suspicious deaths. If they can be made to look like a suicide, they will be labeled as such to protect those involved in the operation, and if they cannot be made to look like a suicide then some patsy will be chosen to take the fall who will be labeled as a lone gunman who definitely was not working with anyone else. All of the cases in this book fall into precisely that pattern, with seven of the deaths labeled as suicides even where the cover story makes zero sense whatsoever, and the other three pinned on line gunmen, when in all cases the story that has been told by official stories has often been doubted by many others. Yet even when the cover-up story is doubted, those who hear the story can pay attention to the communication that is being provided that those whose behavior sufficiently threatens others will be silenced and that the circumstances will be arranged so that the truth is always at least somewhat of a mystery.