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The JFK Amnesty Initiative - 19 Years Later


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#1 Charles Drago

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Posted 30 August 2016 - 10:32 AM

During the 1997 JFK Lancer November in Dallas conference, George Michael Evica, researcher Chris Courtwright, attorney William Xanttopoulos, and I created a plan to, in the words of the official press release reproduced below, "[form] a task force to draft legislation establishing a legislative amnesty initiative. Its goal will be to encourage surviving material witnesses in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to come forward."

Author John Kelin, who was present when initial plans for what has come to be known as the Amnesty Initiative were developing, reported fully and fairly on the proceedings in his appropriately named -- and celebrated -- Fair Play newsletter. 

Kelin had attended our impromptu end-of-conference workshop on the Amnesty Initiative. The room was packed with researchers who were very taken with the idea. On stage and seated at a long table were GM, Xanttopoulos, and another well-known researcher who had had absolutely nothing to do with the formulation of our plans yet had been invited by Debra Conway, without our knowledge or consent, to play a controlling role in what was to unfold.

At the height of the excitement about the idea, after the need for funds to launch the initiative had been detailed by GM, one or two audience members rose and asked how they should make out their checks. At least a dozen donations -- some quite considerable -- soon were collected. Checks were made out to GM (he was, appropriately, held in the highest regard and trusted). The plan was to set up a dedicated account ASAP. Until that happened, the checks would remain in GM's custody and not be cashed.

Very soon thereafter, GM called to tell me that the uninvited researcher, with the full blessing of JFK Lancer and no one else, was being positioned to gain control of the Amnesty Initiative. Those of us who had originated the project were being cut out of leadership roles.

GM mistrusted the researcher on many levels and would have nothing to do with him/her. Accordingly, GM informed JFK Lancer that he would tear up the checks and return them to the donors. He argued correctly that it was his good name that had prompted the flow of donations, and that since he was withdrawing from the project, he could not in good conscience entrust the money to others.

GM followed through.

In the hands of JFK Lancer and the puppet researcher, the Amnesty Initiative quickly died.

If that doesn't stink of an operation, I don't know what does. At the very least, it just plain stinks.

Here is John Kelin's report:


The Truth Commission

by John Kelin

The concluding afternoon of the November in Dallas conference brought what is, arguably, the most exciting development in the Kennedy case since the advent of the ARRB. Exciting, because of its great potential. A long shot? Probably. But there is so much promise there.

The development is exciting because it could lead to the break, or breaks, that actually solve the case --- a notion that, not so long ago, seemed far-fetched to many interested parties.

The general idea is probably best explained in a press release sent out by JFK Lancer a few days after their conference ended:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOVEMBER 24, 1997

JFK RESEARCH GROUP TO INTRODUCE LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVE

DALLAS, TX: JFK LANCER, at its 1997 November In Dallas Conference, announced the formation of a task force to draft legislation establishing a legislative amnesty initiative. Its goal will be to encourage surviving material witnesses in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to come forward.

The initiative is designed to be the logical successor legislation to the historic JFK Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992. It is modeled on the South Africa Commission of Truth and Reconciliation, and is intended, in the words of Conference Chair George Michael Evica, "...to make historical sense of the flood of new and important documents made available by the Assassination Records Review Board." Evica added, "We are offering what most likely will be the last opportunity for these witnesses to clear their conscience, serve their country, and tell the truth."

The task force, in consultation with its legal advisor Miami attorney and former federal prosecutor William Xanttopoulos, will draft the new legislation that, it is hoped, will be acted upon in the next session of congress.

The idea of a Truth Commission, as it has thus far been referred to, was apparently first mentioned in The New York Times in July 1997. It was first broached at the Lancer conference by William Xanttopoulos, during his November in Dallas presentation, in which he discussed legal issues surrounding the case. The notion rapidly gained momentum.

"It's no secret," George Michael Evica said, "that a great many representatives, and certainly senators, are either former military intelligence or intelligence-associated people, or they are in close contact with intelligence people. In many ways, I think this [Truth Commission] would let them off the hook. They're going to say, 'Look, this is going to be a popular thing. It's the 35th anniversary [in November 1998] and people want to know. And it's not as if people are going to be indicted. It's amnesty --- it's immunity --- you come forward and tell the truth.' I think it could work."

"I think there are two other components that will make it work," Charles Drago said. "It's a fabulous, important, potentially earth-shattering idea that we've got to pursue.

"Two elements," Drago repeated. "One: financial. I think one of the jobs that we have to do as a community is to think about fund-raising, think about seed money to support this campaign [to] get this bill done, because --- this is the second part of the equation --- there has to be a high-profile, public opinion campaign, public relations campaign, to drive up the support of the rank-and-file, of the voters out there, which in turn will help to influence their elected representatives."

An audience member raised the prospect of another rash of mysterious deaths, should key figures suddenly express a willingness to talk. The same man also suggested a civil suit might be a better strategy than amnesty.

As to the former, William Xanttopoulos said the witness protection program should keep witnesses from harm. As to a civil suit, he didn't think it was a good idea. "You are cast in the position of the outsider, the dissenter, the people with the way-out case ... [also] you get a civil case going --- you get subpoena power, but the discovery in civil cases is very limited."

George Michael Evica suggested that surviving Secret Service agents were one potentially excellent source for the sort of material witnesses that were being discussed. Charles Drago said to bear in mind the distinction between individuals and institutions. "Our greatest opposition to any amnesty program might not come from hestitant individuals, but from the institutionalized powers, entities, that caused this thing to happen."

"I think that they [Kennedy-era Secret Service agents] would really respond to and respect the Federal authority of a Federal agency like the ARRB," said Vince Palamara, the Secret Service expert. "Even if privately they didn't like [having to come forward]..."

"I think the problem here is, we've got to decide whether we want justice or the truth," said Ian Griggs. "Under an amnesty we can't get both ... my personal view is, truth before justice. But then, if we got that, then afterwards we'd be saying, 'that guy should be shot!'"

This observation drew both laughter and applause, to which Ian replied with a slight laugh, "That's supposed to be a serious remark! But, you know, it's a real quandry, isn't it? We gotta have one or the other. But, let's have one or the other."

Charles Drago commented: "I would say that truth equals justice in this case only, if justice means doing right by him [JFK] --- and making sure the system that he died for can be jump-started, preserved, and that that can't happen again."



At this point you have every right to ask why GM, Courtwright, Xanttopoulos, and I didn't move forward with the idea.

The answer: I cannot be certain, but to the best of my knowledge Bill Xanttopoulos was disenchanted by the hijacking of the Amnesty Initiative and faded away. My good friend Chris also seemed to lose interest, but as is the case with Bill, I don't feel comfortable speaking for him. GM and I clearly understood that, without Lancer's resources, we would be hard-pressed to move forward.

GM, as late as the very beginning of 1998 (a scant few months after the conference), wrote of the Amnesty Initiative in Lancer's Kennedy Assassination Chronicles. He accurately indicated that the "massive information drive" we had undertaken to inform the media of our work failed to generate any momentum whatsoever. 

Clearly GM was holding out one last hope that, out of such failure, a re-formulated executive team would emerge to breathe new life into the Amnesty Initiative.

It was not to be.


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"[Y]ou can't blame the innocent, they are always guiltless. All you can do is control them or eliminate them. Innocence is a kind of insanity." -- Graham Greene, The Quiet American

"If an individual, through either his own volition or events over which he had no control, found himself taking up residence in a country undefined by flags or physical borders, he could be assured of one immediate and abiding consequence. He was on his own, and solitude and loneliness would probably be his companions unto the grave." -- James Lee Burke, Rain Gods

a wind has blown the rain away and blown
the sky away and all the leaves away,
and the trees stand. i think i too have known
autumn too long
-- e. e. cummings

#2 Charles Drago

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Posted 30 August 2016 - 10:33 AM

More on the Amnesty Initiative from John Kelin, writing of the 1997 Lancer conference in the 20th issue of Fair Play


Up next was William Xanttopoulos (referred to here as William X), a former prosecutor in the Southern District of Florida who is now in private practice. He discussed some of the legal issues surrounding the JFK case, but his most interesting comments addressed the notion of justice, and some of the practical avenues still open.

He began by discussing the fact-finding process, which in a formal sense consists of a body such as a grand jury investigating a crime under the guidance of a prosecutor, and leading, perhaps, to an indictment and trial. Results are made public, and most important, William X said, "there is going to be with [a] verdict, a belief by the public that justice has been rendered."

There is also a presumption that the fact-finding process is final. "It is very rarely revisited," William X said. "It is very rarely overturned. And it is accepted generally by the public to be valid.

"That is the traditional case, and that is how it ought to work. Unfortunately, the reason we're all here is, that is not the case in the death of John F. Kennedy. Because, due to the death of Lee Harvey Oswald, the public was deprived of a trial. There was no jury verdict, there was no finality. And there was, basically, a lack of respect --- it took over time to accumulate --- for the, quote, 'verdict' of the Warren Commission."

So what do we do now? he asked. "Can we have justice 34 years later?" To answer his own question, he cited the example of 87-year-old Maurice Papon, the accused Nazi collaborator now standing trial in France for alleged war crimes committed in the early 1940s.

In view of that, William X declared, "It's possible. Is it possible in America? There was the case of Byron de la Beckwith. Does everyone know who Byron de la Beckwith is?" Most everyone did. De la Beckwith shot and killed NAACP Field Secretary Medgar Evans in 1963, and twice stood trial in the 1960s but was never convicted. Not until the 1990s was he finally brought to justice.

So it is possible.

"The way I have thought that this could be done is by some sort of creative solution," William X said. "At the present time in South Africa, they are grappling with a similar type of issue. They are grappling with issues --- crimes against humanity, crimes against blacks that were committed under the prior government. And because they had that problem, they had to try to grapple with how that should be solved. And what they did was come up with a solution that was a bit controversial. But it has been working there to some extent. It's called the Commission of Truth and Reconciliation." This Commission has, among its objectives, promoting national unity and reconciliation in South Africa; establishing as complete a picture as possible the causes and extent of Apartheid; granting amnesty to those who come forward with all the relevant facts; and compiling a report on the findings of the Commission.

An American commission modeled on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission could work in the quest for justice for JFK, William X said. As the Lancer Conference neared its end, this idea --- which in all likelihood had been percolating for some time, somewhere behind the scenes --- was debated and discussed, and resulted in some concrete ideas, which are discussed in the article The Truth Commission.

Under such a Commission, William X said, there is a tradeoff between truth and justice. He noted Charles Drago's remark that he preferred truth over jail time for anyone revealed to have participated in the conspiracy to kill JFK.

"The fact that we could bring out the truth --- if we could do [everything] possible to encourage formal authority to finally take those steps to bring out the truth, which is really the compelling of witnesses to give the final testimony --- I think we will have accomplished and done a great thing."


http://spot.acorn.ne....ue/oview3.html


  • Greg Burnham and Larry Trotter like this
"[Y]ou can't blame the innocent, they are always guiltless. All you can do is control them or eliminate them. Innocence is a kind of insanity." -- Graham Greene, The Quiet American

"If an individual, through either his own volition or events over which he had no control, found himself taking up residence in a country undefined by flags or physical borders, he could be assured of one immediate and abiding consequence. He was on his own, and solitude and loneliness would probably be his companions unto the grave." -- James Lee Burke, Rain Gods

a wind has blown the rain away and blown
the sky away and all the leaves away,
and the trees stand. i think i too have known
autumn too long
-- e. e. cummings

#3 Larry Trotter

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Posted 01 September 2016 - 12:11 AM

I tend to wonder, as I wander, about the possibilities of a JFK Amnesty Initiative being accepted by the masses. As I have become for the most part, convinced of the Sponsor, Facilitator, and Mechanic method as being used to accomplish the successful assassination and cover-up in the murder of JFK, I would think the Sponsor level will continue to be the least likely to be confirmed participants. Even if not alive, the children and grand children, among other close relatives, are not likely to cooperate. I would not be surprised to learn that the Mechanic level participants are all deceased, and possibly have been for awhile. However, maybe there is a possibility for some cooperation among relatives of said participants. The Facilitator level participants, may have survivors among them, and in my opinion, just might be the key for success in creating a true understanding of the event that could be accepted publicly. Unfortunately, along with the Lone Gunman Theorists, there just may be some "researchers(?)" who will obstruct the effort at all cost.  JMO. FWIW.


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