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Hunt Dies—and So Does Truth About JFK

Was E. Howard Hunt in midst of deal for “tell-all” book about Kennedy assassination?

By Mark Lane

The mystery began with the death of President Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. Hopes that soon the truth about the assassination might be revealed were substantially set back when Jack Ruby, former FBI associate, killed the alleged assassin in the basement of the Dallas Police and Courts Building while Lee Harvey Oswald was surrounded by police officers, most of whom knew Ruby quite well.

The recent death of E. Howard Hunt, determined by a federal jury in the civil case Hunt v. Liberty Lobby to have been the CIA’s operative in the assassination of Kennedy, closes another door, a door that was possibly about to open.

During the last months preceding his death Hunt was engaged in negotiations to tell the whole story about the assassination. For a large financial consideration, enough to allow him to leave the country and seek safety elsewhere, Hunt said he was ready to reveal the facts about the assassination and those involved in its planning and execution.

Hunt had filed a defamation lawsuit against Liberty Lobby, Inc., the publisher of The Spotlight. The weekly newspaper had asserted that Hunt had played some role in the murder of the president. The case, when Liberty Lobby prevailed, was largely ignored by the news media. For that reason I wrote a book about the trial, Plausible Denial. Although published by a very small company, the book became a New York Times bestseller.

I had represented Liberty Lobby at the trial. The media cover-up of the trial continues in the obituary columns of the leading newspapers. The historic trial is generally ignored; the rare exception presents a brief one-sentence distortion of the facts.

When Hunt brought his action against Liberty Lobby, in the United States District Court in Miami, Fla., the institution retained a local lawyer. The attorney stipulated that Hunt had not been in Dallas on Nov. 22. Hunt won the case and was awarded $650,000. The Court of Appeals reversed and sent the case back for a new trial; Willis Carto, the treasurer of Liberty Lobby, retained me to try that case.

At the first trial Hunt had appealed to the jurors by saying that when he was accused of killing the president his own children believed he had committed that crime. He was crushed, devastated, outraged. At the second trial, as at a deposition I had taken of him before trial, Hunt, who kept on changing his alibi as to where he was on the fateful day, ended up with the story that his entire family remained together in his home for 72 hours as they were mournfully glued to the television set. Yet his children believe he killed the president.

They were allegedly with him at home the entire period. Hunt appeared to be the only adult in the United States not to recall where he was when he had heard of the president’s assassination. When he was confronted with the blatant conflict in his testimony, he was speechless. The jury, however, was not; it awarded the victory to Liberty Lobby, and its forewoman reported to the media that she was convinced that Hunt and the CIA had murdered the president.

To this day, that remains the only verdict in a federal court establishing responsibility for the assassination.

Author and civil rights activist Mark Lane continues to practice law and write. He is presently working on his autobiography. He resides in Charlottesville, Va. His email address is [email protected].

(Issue #6, February 5, 2007)

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Updated January 27, 2007