While doing political research as an academic, I always sought evidence which was most immediate and apparently fair about whatever I was interested in. This usually meant looking for reliable newspapers which had direct reports about the matter in question rather than government records of major states or private papers of important individuals.
As Western powers have become developed states, their bureaucracies have become increasingly politicized, making their reports often censored versions of what really happened. Personal accounts of events, unless they are those by a player directly involved, are generally little more than hearsay evidence by those who have some point to make, or axe to grind, often long after they actually occurred. Memory too can play tricks on individuals when they try to recall what really happened.
Of course, newspapers, especially current ones, are not immune to such distorting tendencies, but they are still the best sources we have.
A good example of the kinds of things I am talking about surfaced when I started writing a two-volume biography of British barrister Henry Brougham (1778-1868). Brougham, because of his independent ways as an advocate and politician, was highly ridiculed in newspapers of the day, and letters by associates. William Hazlitt, the famous English essasyist, dismissed Brougham's efforts as those of a most self-serving hack who would do anything to get his way.The strength of Hazlitt's dismissal was well illustrated when I was once asked by Sir Geoffrey Elton, the famous Tudor historian, what I was doing, and when I explained to him the scope of the project, he responded curtly: "I would have thought one volume would have been more than enough, and a thin one at that."
The conversation took place while I was pouring over the columns of The Times in one of the reading rooms of the Institute of Historical Research in London, looking for accounts of Brougham's efforts in the courts, and Parliament during the early years of the 19th century. This was when Thomas Barnes was taking over editorial control of the newspaper from its proprietor, making it the envy of the earth. The Times was also another bete noir of Hazlitt who claimed that it was just another London rag.
For a more accurate picture of the paper and the politician, a better mix of fact and fiction, I would recommend viewers read the novels by Anthony Trollope, especially The Warden.
My research convinced me that there was far more to the politician and the paper than their critics, especially the witty Hazlitt, were contending. In the process, I also learned that Hazlitt was closely related to Dr. John Stoddart aka 'Dr. Slop', the former editor of The Times who was fired because of his reactionary interests. Stoddart then formed the New Times to combat Barnes's rising interest in reform, and became a leading light in the Constitutional Association, a most repressive organization to stop it. In sum, Hazlitt had real axes to grind, and his pithy claims should not be taken as fact, just interesting essays to be read for enjoyment.
While I was learning this, I failed to appreciate how all these considerations could be drastically changed if some bystander or researcher because of their claims became the focus of something quite different, eventually even sinister. Here I am referring to efforts by America's secret government, first to see to the repudiation of my theories about the assassination of JFK, especially the roles of CIA, Nixon, and his last Chief of Staff, General Alexander M. Haig, Jr., and when this effort unexpectedly failed, to see to my actual elimination. In the process, I learned the importance of having good files to correct one's questionable memory.
In my last confessions, I tried to describe the trouble caused by a fraudulent FBI memo, claiming that Jack Ruby should be given special consideration by the Bureau because of the work he was performing in the late 1940s for California Representative Richard M. Nixon on the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) - what college professor J. David Truby had been given by a member of the Nixon Justice Department in 1974, and was circulating in order to justify the publishing of an article about it in The National Tattler.
The article was intended to corroborate many claims that I had been making about the President, but when I learned about the role of the memo in its proposed publication, I threatened Truby with a libel action if he went ahead. In the end, the tabloid printed a story in its June 1975 issue which satisfied neither Truby nor me, though I declined to sue it because I thought, given clarifications that The Writer's Digest had provided about the dispute in January 1976, any action would only help the culprits who assassinated JFK by mudding the waters further about the whole process.
When I left America permanently in November 1989, I thought that the whole dispute had long been settled, and clarified. Little did I know that Jim Marrs, the well-known researcher of the Dallas assassination. would claim then in Crossfire that I, after examining thousands of similar Bureau documents, had changed my mind about the Ruby memo, deciding that it was, in fact, genuine. Of course, I, living in the wilds of central Portugal with few contacts with the outside world, had no idea that he had written such outrageous claims, and I would have threatened him with a libel action if I had.
I only learned of Marrs's claim another 13 years later, and only through correspondence with Jim DiEugenio, editor of the former web site magazine Probe. This was after I had finally decided to move to Sweden because of my growing difficulties, especially with my health. I ultimately came to the conclusion that someone - apparently elements in America's secret government - was trying to kill me by poison, and I better seek a new venue if I hoped to survive much longer. It was outside Stockholm, when I finally went on the internet with my new computer, that I learned that DiEugenio had further trashed my work by claiming in a special issue of the magazine in Jan.-Feb. 1996 that I, a former intelligence officer, had deliberately used the fraudulent memo to help remove Nixon from office.
The point DiEugenio was making against me was not just an incidental one, but the basis of the whole special issue, as he explained in an introductory note, "From the Chairman's Desk," after the appearance of Oliver Stone's movie "Nixon" - what was intended to portray the former President in a better light: "And if that means defending people one don't like, so be it. If it helps return democaracy to America, we can call a temporary truce with Dick Nixon."
In explaining the origin of the temporary truce, DiEugenio said this about my efforts: "How bad did things get in those days. When the impeachment process was in gear in 1974, a college professor named Trowbridge Ford, with help from jouranlist David Truby surfaced a memo saying that Nixon had helped Jack Ruby get out of a jam with the HUAC. Paul Hoch ably revealed this document to be a forgery. But as Ed Tatro said, the real significance was that it showed someone was out to get Nixon and both Ford and Truby had intelligence connections."
I was never out to get anyone - though I would have pursued even my own mother if she had been part of the Dallas conspiracy - and had no role in either surfacing or circulating the memo. And I let DiEugenio know in no uncertain terms, and as soon as I could. When I finally got through his associate Lisa Pease to DiEugenio on October 16, 2003, he replied tersely:
My name is Jim DiEugenio. I wrote the three sentences you are complaining about. I got this information from Edgar Tatro, a researcher from Boston.
Are you denying you ever circulated the Ruby-Nixon memo?
If you are so doing, have you forwarded letters to the others involved denying this and showing that people like Paul Hoch and Mr. Tatro have falsely accused you of this decades ago? If you have, please show me such documentation because when I called them when I wrote those words they never told me you had.
I assume you are not denying that the memo was a forgery or that you knew Mr. Truby.
After I replied the next day, trying to clarify matters on the basis of the two articles which had appeared in The Writer's Digest, DiEugenio continued in the same vein:
I just picked up Jim Marrs trade paper edition of Crossfire. On pages 269-270, you are quoted directly. I quote in part:
"By the early 1980's, Ford told this author he had studied literally thousands of genuine FBI documents and had slowly come to the conclusion that the Nixon-Ruby memo was probably legitimate."
Mr. Ford, not only did you circulate this thing originally, but even after you knew it was phoney, you told an author of a bestselling book that it was probably not.
Please show me your letter to Marrs retracting this statement at the time the book was issued. If not, please drop the subject. There is nothing in the original citation that damages you in any way or is false. The Marrs citation show that it was correct.
Of course, I responded immediately, stating that there was nothing true in his e-mail, even the claim of a direct quotation in Marrs from me, and explaining that no one can deny false claims one doesn't know about, especially if they issued in a way least likely to promote discovery. (For example, I never wrote to other researchers into the JFK assassination that I was not part of the plot for fear that they might still, somehow suspect so.) DiEugenio then relented on October 21st, stating that he would raise the matter with Marrs, and asking me to fax copies of the articles about the memo in The Writer's Digest.
While I planned to do so, I don't have a fax, and before I could go out to one, I seriously injured my left foot, making any kind of trip like that out of the question. Then my computer immediately developed a deadly virus, making any e-mail or snail mail to him impossible because all his addresses were in my computer's memory. When I and my computer were finally up, and around, I sent him an e-mail on November 10th, explaining the delay, and telling him he could find The Writer's Digest in any good-size library. When I didn't hear anything more from DiEugenio, I even wrote an e-mail about my complaints to Marrs on December 6th, asking DiEugenio to forward it to him.
After three months had passed without any reply from either DiEugenio or Marrs, I e-mailed the former to tell him that my last confessions article had appeared on this site, and that I would be writing this one unless I received an adequate explanation, or compensation from him within four weeks. When the deadline passed without any response, I wrote again about the action I would take, and received this reply from DiEugenio:
Thanks for sending me this. I will keep it as proof of your nuttiness, fabricating, and libelous intent. SO when anybody writes me about your goofy article, well what do you expect.
BTW (Better Take Warning?), Marrs has notes about this interview with you for his book that you say never happened.
The e-mails ended with a bitter exchange of claims and counterclaims about fabrications, facts,
Hardly had they stopped than Ed Tatro e-mailed me, professing that he had never had any relationship with the Agency, and while he could well understand what DiEugenio had put in his Chairman's Letter about me had been deeply upsetting, he declined all responsibility for it, claiming that Probe had completely distorted what he said. Tatro wanted me to retract what I had said about him. He was just a hard-pressed high school teacher who was trying to enlighten his students about some of America's darkest moments despite avoidance of the subject in standard textbooks.
Of course, I responded in the fashion already indicated, but his timing, and the rigmarole he went through to get in touch with me left much to be desired. I cannot help but think that he was tipped off by DiEugenio about what I was doing, hoping to gain some kind of helpful clarification in this article. Also, he used a different web site, lindqvist. com, to get in touch with me, claiming he did not know how to do otherwise. Of course, codshit.com published my e-mail address on many occasions, and he had the opportunity to deny my claims right on the web site. Unfortunately, for him, any reply would have been right under my e-mail, quoting his effort from Probe magazine - obviously an environment which would not have been promotive of his aims.
Tatro's claims about being a high school teacher suddenly refreshed my memory about my life in Portugal - what I had forgotten about when I wrote the earlier article. While I searched my files in researching it, finding only a few items on my old computer relevant to the project - what forced me to rely heavily upon my own memory - I had forgotten that I had written many letters on an electric typewritter before I purchased a computer, and copies of the letters had to be somewhere. I finally found them in an envelope another high school teacher had provided me in dealing with his students, and I had used it to store copies of the letters I wrote on the typewriter.
They were a revelation about why Marrs et al. had gone to such lengths to distort my research - they were building a case in my absence about my libelous intent against Nixon and his associates. In American law, it is almost impossible for a public figure like the former President, General Haig, and former DCI Richard Helms to win a libel case without showing that the alleged libeler did so, knowing that his claims were untrue - what Marrs apparently has in his notes of an alleged interview with me. According to him, I maintained that the Nixon-Ruby memo was legitimate after a most thorough search; yet, I still confided to Marrs that I knew it to be phony all along.
To make sure that they had an open-and-shut case against me, Randall Lynn, a history teacher at Douglas County High School in a suburb of Altanta, Georgia, wrote me a letter, apparently in January 1993 though it is undated, asking if I would help some of his best students investigate further questions about the JFK assassination, an event which had changed his life. If I agreed, he twice assured me that none of my help would be published or aired without my approval. He said nothing, though, about using it in any possible intelligence operation, or in a libel action by aggrieved individuals.
On March 11, 1993, I wrote to one student, outlining the conspiracy which murdered JFK - what I have elaborated upon in my earlier artciles on Helms, William King Harvey, Peter Wright, Alexander Haig, and Anatoliy Golitsyn. The letter concentrated upon the operations that Jack Ruby was integrating - the actual Mafia assassination plot (Operation Cleopatra), the set up of Lee Harvey Oswald and other decoys at Fidel Castro's expense (Operation Little Egypt); and the threats to the President by various criminal associates to break down JFK's security as he visited key cities, especially Miami and New York (Operation Twist Board).
I stressed how Nixon had brought everything together by standing up to recorded threats, apparently by Oswald, by attending the Bottlers' Convention at Market Hall on Nov. 21st, right across from the Trade Mart where JFK would be giving his speech the next day, as Pepsi-Cola's chief counsel, and then giving a press conference denying claims that there had been any official concern about his safety - what The Dallas Morning News empasized with its "Guard Not For Nixon" story on its front page on the fatal day. Instead of following false leads in Jim Garrison's investigation, I urged her to look into Watergate for more culprits, and evidence of the conspiracy.
Then the students asked me for more information about why I did not agree with Garrison's claims, especially about Clay Shaw's role, how Oswald had been set up as a "patsy", and who had killed Officer J. D. Tippitt and why. Before I had even had time to answer them, I received a most effusive letter from Lynn: "Your input has been been invaluable, and you join such figures as Dr. Cyril Wecht, Gaeton Fonzi, Mary Ferrell, Jack White, Jim Marrs, and Anthony Summers in giving so generously of your knowledge so that teenagers - so often ignored by the research community - may learn more about this pivotal event in our history." He asked for more information about names I had mentioned, and he had never heard of. He expressed the hope that the relationship could be ongoing, as there would be other students coming along with questions they wanted answered.
A week later, I wrote a four-page, single-spaced letter, trying to answer his queries and theirs. Without troubling viewers with all the detail, the most important information from the point of view of this article concerned Nixon, and none of it had anything to do with the false memo - e.g., Nixon and Dallas Representative Bruce Alger receving threatening post cards from someone thought to be a "possible, dangerous social deviant" from Dallas, Fort Worth, and Irving, Texas, locations known for their connections with Oswald; why would the former Vice President then go to Dallas to stand up to such
threats, and publicise his apparent recklessness unless he was attempting to set the President up under controlled conditions - what he had learned from actress and Pepsi president Joan Crawford that JFK was tempted to do himself; why would President Clinton seek advice from Nixon when he had treated his Democratic predecessor so treacherously; etc.
Instead of hearing further from Lynn, I got an unexpected letter from Ms. Jennifer Caplan of Milledgeville, Ga., though it took nearly a year for it to arrive in Portugal. By this time, I had had it out with Lynn - what was prompted by writing him on December 10th to complain about his failure to answer my April letter, and to suggest that students write Nixon, Helms, and Haig for information about their role in the JFK assassination for the book I had now decided to write about the Dallas tragedy. Thanks to the handling of the Nixon-Ruby memo, and the controversy it had stirred up, I knew that these people would not answer any questions I put to them, but maybe they would feel obliged if Lynn's students queried them - what could even bring JFK's killers to justice at this late date. A few days later, I wrote to Bureau Director Louis Freeh in the same vein.
Ms. Caplan was apparently an investigator for some justice department, and hoped to gain information which would lead to my prosecution rather than that of Nixon, Helms, and Haig. She asked me about the memo, and obviously hoped that I would supply information along the lines Marrs claimed. I attacked not only the memo, but also how she had gotten interested in it. "By the way," I wrote on July 11, 1994, "do you know Mr. Lynn, and did he suggest that you consult me about your questions?" She,
of course, denied everything, admitting only a now useless interest in seeing if the apparent relationship between Nixon and Ruby warranted some kind of criminal prosecution.
I do believe that this scathing letter ended all interest in a libel action against me, but put me on a deadly course with America's secret government. To make matters worse, I had written to President Clinton on April 30, 1994, complaining bitterly of the support the United States provided, and the testaments he gave to Nixon upon his death. I said that it was a slap in the face to those who had worked so hard to see that the felon was removed from office. "In sum," I concluded, "rather than spend good taxpayer money to try to polish up this most terrible President, you should have the Attorney General look into his earlier crimes, or appoint a new commission to determine what really happened to JFK and the country in Dallas. If you want further massive evidence on these matters, I would be happy to oblige. Kennedy's unsolved murder calls for no less"
I even wrote again to Freeh, thrice to Attorney General Janet Reno, and to Ms. Mary Spearing, Chief of the DOJ's General Litigation and Legal Advice Section, after she replied for her boss, but without any action, only being referred to previous unsuccessful investigations of the JFK assasination as if the Justice Department is only some kind of library reference service. All they accomplished apparently was to focus law-enforcement efforts on forcing me back to America where I could be silenced much more easily - what Portuguese emigration officials attempted, but without success when I went to the States a month later.
It was then that America's secret government plotted to kill me, once its new Ambassador to Portugal Elizabeth Frawley Bagley had gotten established in Lisbon. In looking through these misplaced papers, I also found my correspondence with its Vice Consul - who I had contacted on March 24, 1995 over the trouble I was having using the telephone because of suspected taps. He was Michael D. Thomas, not John White, as I had claimed. I had been forced to rely upon my memory, and it had turned up the wrong man - apparently a leading member of the Ulster Defence Asssociation, and close friend of imprisoned Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair - as expected under such circumstances.
Thomas surprisingly answered my questions the same day thus: "After conducting a thorough investigation, I hereby reassure you that, to my knowledge, there is no agency of the United States Government engaged in illegal activities against you." Of course, I took exception to any idea that he could know of any legal actions that America was conducting against me, and this left unanswered the possibility of either Washington or Lisbon conducting illegal operations against me. I was also convinced that his getting my name wrong, calling me "Trumbridge", was just a ruse so that he could get his hands on my passport, and keep it, claiming that I was again living illegally in Portugal.
I have little to add about the campaign that America's secret government carried out then to cause my death, apparently an accident, but actually caused by increasing doses of ricin - what I was fed when I had dinner at Caldas da Rainha's Supatra Restaurant. While the effort to inflict a disastrous libel suit on me had been apparently inspired by Nixon and his former Chief of Staff Haig, the plot to kill me was led by President Clinton, former DCI Helms, and the chief of section in Portugal, Ms. Bagley.
I had actually missed completely the transformation until recently, especially the significance of DiEugenio's Chairman's Letter to the murder plot when it was moving into high gear in early 1996. DiEugenio's was making my murder seem perfectly understandable under the circumstances. Who could feel sorry for an intelligence operator who plotted most foully to bring down President Nixon, being killed by anyone after his dirty scheming had been so tellingly exposed?
The only thing to add about the poisoning is that its effects still appeared after I thought I had escaped to safety in Sweden. My body had enough ricin in it that only a tiny bit more would have finished me off. I never had any more Thai food just to be sure, so that could not have been the cause of the attacks. For the next three years outside of Stockholm, though, I regularly had attacks in the middle of the night - attacks of incredible dizziness, followed by severe vomiting and diarrhea. It usually lasted for about 12 hours, and they occurred about once a month.
Three of the attacks, after I had exercised heavily, caused me great concern. The first occurred in the summer of 1997 when my girl friend was visiting her son in California. One morning, after running a bit with my dog Fresco, I suddenly had another attack like the last one in Portugal at Saint Martinho. I could not even stand, I was so dizzy, and once I staggered back to our house, I spent the rest of the day vomiting, and sitting on the toilet.
The most scary attack occurred just a year later, after my girlfriend and the dog had taken a long walk. Once we got back to the car, I suddenly fell unconscious, falling on the road beside it, and splitting open my head in the process. Everyone thought I had either had a heart attack, or suffered a stroke. After I was rushed by ambulance to the hospital, sewn up, and given a cap scan, doctors were at a loss, though, to explain what had happened to me. Even another extensive examination by my own doctor revealed nothing.
My last attack occurred another year later after Fresco had been gored by a deer, and I got so upset in taking him to the hospital that I ultimately experienced a spell of dizziness which forced me to line down on the floor for awhile to avoid falling, and splitting open my head again. Fortunately, since then, I have had no more attacks.
While sceptics may still not believe my claims - believing that I just had some mysterious ailment which somehow cured itself - I am convinced that I was poisoned by the people mentioned above, and if they wish to dispute it, I urge them to take me to court. I have already had enough near escapes with death.