Edward Jay Epstein has just published a new book called The JFK Assassination Diary based on the diary he kept when he wrote Inquest. It is available on Kindle, Nook and as an Itunes ebook. It will soon be available in paperback.
He wrote me about it:
As you know I was the only person to interview the Warren Commission as well as its staff and liaisons with the intelligence services. I did these interviews as an undergraduate at Cornell with no credentials as a journalist, scholar, or author. My interviews also produced a revelation that shook the journalistic establishment, which had been blithely reporting until the publication of my book Inquest that the Commission had left no stone unturned in an exhaustive investigation. In fact, as I showed, it was a brief, sporadic, and incomplete investigation. Indeed one in which the senior staff lawyer in charge of the crime scene investigation quit after two days, and the young lawyer who took his place, Arlen Specter, was never able to view the single most crucial piece of evidence — the autopsy photographs. The Commission was never able to obtain them, nor other pieces of evidence, because Robert Kennedy blocked it. For the same reason, the Commission was not provided with any information about a parallel plot to kill Castro in 1963. The Commission could not connect dots to which it was denied access.
I had no problem getting this information. Many of the young lawyers on the staff were furious with the way the investigation had been handled and the time pressure imposed on them. So they gave me FBI reports, payroll records and their memos, without me even asking. This raises a question. As these lawyers and Commission members were not bound by any secrecy agreement, as amazing as that might seem nowadays, why had not journalists from major news organizations sought the same information from them? After all, in 1963, the Kennedy assassination was the crime of the century. Fifty years later, I still cannot answer this question.
A very good question. Why weren’t journalists from major news organizations more . . . enterprising? It is another variation on The Emperor’s New Clothes, where a Cornell undergraduate manages to see what many much more experienced and credentialed experts failed to see, or avoided seeing. I would answer Epstein’s question like this: The experts were disinterested in gathering evidence that might contradict their world view. That world view included a belief in the competence of exceedingly important government commissions. They didn’t want to gather evidence that might make them uncomfortable. I see this every year at Nobel Prize time. No journalist ever questions the claims in the press releases that accompany the prizes.