News Archive - Jan 2008
Wecht Trial Underway
Jan 31, 2008: The trial of noted coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht is in its fourth day. Dr. Wecht is charged with 41 counts of fraud and theft, related to alleged misuse of the coroner's office. The defense has charged that the trial is politically motivated. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review maintains a "trial watch" page with hour-by-hour notes of the trial's progress. The bulk of the testimony so far relates to personal errands which employees were directed to perform.
Oswald's Ghost Airs on PBS
Jan 15, 2008: PBS' American Experience is showing this week Oswald's Ghost, a film by Robert Stone which grapples with the the JFK assassination and its aftermath, but whose point of view is summed up by historian Robert Dallek: "How could someone as inconsequential as Lee Harvey Oswald have killed someone as consequential as John F. Kennedy?" This question, of course, assumes that he did. The film's positive reviews by the Boston Globe, LA Times, Dallas Morning News, and Miami Herald, are accompanied by less-than-enthusiastic response from those who know the JFK case better. Jim DiEugenio's review dissects the film's choice of topics and talking heads, and notes that Oswald's Ghost fails to even mention the House Select Committee on Assassinations and the Assassination Records Review Board (DiEugenio: "In other words, the body that literally almost doubled the amount of documentation available on the JFK case goes unnoticed in a film on that very case"). See also David Lifton's account of a pre-release screening (Night at the Museum).
Philip Agee Dies at 72
Jan 9, 2008: Philip Agee, the disaffected CIA agent who named Agency operatives in his 1975 book Inside the Company: CIA Diary, died in Cuba on Monday at the age of 72. An Associated Press obituary states that Agee "disclosed the identities of his former CIA colleagues to 'weaken the instrument for carrying out the policy of supporting military dictatorships' in Greece, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil." Agee's actions infuriated CIA officials and resulted in damage-control efforts to discover what Agee knew, as evidenced in CIA questionnaires such as this one given to Charlotte Bustos-Videla, aka "Elsie Scaletti."
New Documentary: RFK Must Die
Jan 4, 2008: Shane O'Sullivan's documentary RFK Must Die has been released and is available from amazon.com. The website for the documentary is www.rkfmustdie.com. Among the controversial aspects of O'Sullivan's work is his allegation that three CIA officers were at the Ambassador Hotel the night of Robert Kennedy's assassination. This allegation is disputed by researchers including Jefferson Morley and David Talbot, who investigated it following O'Sullivan's BBC story, and wrote an essay entitled The BBC's Flawed RFK Story. O'Sullivan's reply to the essay is included at the end of the piece.
Half of Counts Against Wecht Dropped
Jan 4, 2008: U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab has dropped 43 of 88 counts against Allegheny County Coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht, at the request of the prosecution, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported today. The defense has challenged these dismissals, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Defense attorney Jerry McDevitt said that "The defense objects to this last-minute attempt to restructure the trial more to their liking and prevent the defense from using the dismissed counts as an example of charges inadequately investigated before being made." Wecht is charged with misuse of the coroner's office for personal gain; the defense has countered that the prosecution is politically motivated.
Sara Jane Moore Released From Prison
Jan 2, 2008: Sara Jane Moore, jailed for the attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford in 1975, was released on New Year's Eve after about three decades in prison, according to stories carried by NBC and CBS. Moore's assassination attempt occurred just 17 days after Lynette "Squeaky Fromme," a follower of Charles Manson, had tried to kill Ford. Moore, a who had been an FBI informant, said famously at her trial that "I didn’t want to kill anybody, but there comes a point when the only way you can make a statement is to pick up a gun." She is now 77 years old.