Who Was David W. Belin?

David W. Belin, a Victim of his Research Knowledge?

In the previous blogpost, I wrote a few quick remarks about David W. Belin, a Des Moines, Iowa lawyer who served important administrative roles on the Warren Commission, and then on the Rockefeller Commission. Belin has been described by some as a bully who pushed the official governmennt story, in both endeavors. But he died a suspicious death, less than a week before he was supposed to be interviewed by a well-known conspiracy author over the death (murder) of Frank Olson, the first official mkultra victim.

I am writing about Belin in my newest historical/alternative fiction (paranormal) book, GringoLandia. Hence, I am interested in his story and have been doing research about him. Some of today's researchers love the guy, why others hate him. In my opinion, it is the conclusions that hopefully he'd finally come to regarding his work on both commissions. He was a bright man who had to finally recognize that he'd been duped in supporting lies by the CIA and the government on the assassination of the president, and years later on the killing of a CIA agent who'd been a key researcher for biological warfare used by the Central Intelligence Agency and military intelligence operations.

What did Belin know? Will we ever know what he had come to learn?

Meanwhile ...

Here's a lengthy review that was posted on Amazon regarding Belin's boouk on the JFK assassination. It offers some insight into why initially Belin might not have been the best athority on either of these two commissions ... But had he learned more? The question is out, as Belin might have stated.

This review is from: November 22, 1963;: You are the jury (Hardcover)
When the late Harold Weisberg, author of eight books on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, needed something positive to think about, he reminded himself that the United States was one of the few countries in which a private citizen could expose government dishonesty the way he did. If he needed something else, he could have reminded himself that the late David W. Belin, Esq., author of "November 22, 1963: You Are the Jury," was never a prosecutor. (You can alter this to "David W. Belin was never a prosecutor in [insert your jurisdiction here].") Belin was a stupid, dishonest man with a vicious, authoritarian streak. A dishonest prosecutor, like a Mike Nifong or a Kenny Hulshof, will prosecute the innocent. A stupid prosecutor, like many of those who have worked for the Los Angeles County District Attorney, won't be able to convict the guilty. A stupid, dishonest prosecutor gives you the worst of both worlds.

This observation is relevant, because "November 22, 1963" is Belin's fantasy of prosecuting a case. (As far as I know, he never practiced criminal law.) He addresses readers of the book as "members of the jury" too many times to count. A prosecutor takes testimony; the book includes many passages of Warren Commission testimony. This may seem impressive at first, but the Warren Commission published 15 volumes of testimony and 11 volumes of exhibits. (This does not include material that the Commission had, but did not publish, or that agencies such as the FBI had, but did not send to the Commission.) Belin had ample opportunity to cherry pick the evidence.

Chapter 21, which deals with the testimony of four of five photographers who rode in a car in the presidential motorcade, is an excellent example of Belin's viciousness and cherry picking. (The fifth photographer did not testify for the Commission and did not exist for Belin.) Two of the photographers saw a rifle barrel in the window of the southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository (TSBD). He wrote

. . . there is one thing upon which each of the photographers agreed: His duty as a photographer for his employer was more important than his duty as a citizen to contact immediately the first police officer he saw and advice the officer of the source of the shots.

The Chevrolet convertible in which these four photographers were riding came to a stop just as it turned the intersection of Elm and Houston in front of the TSBD Building. Dallas policemen were stationed on the street in front of the TSBD Building, as they were stationed on the street throughout the motorcade route. Had any one of these four photographers contacted any of the nearby policemen, the TSBD Building could have been sealed off within a minute or two after the assassination. Had this been done, perhaps Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit would be alive today.

And the real irony is that one of these four cameramen--Robert Jackson--won a Pulitzer Prize because he wanted a picture of Lee Harvey Oswald as Oswald was being escorted through the basement of the Dallas Police Building and at the time Jackson took the picture, Jack Ruby darted forward and fired a shot into Oswald. For this, Jackson received one of the highest awards that can be bestowed on a member of the press.

But as citizens of the United States, Jackson should share with his three colleagues a last-place award in failing to do first whatever was possible to help catch a gunman firing at their President. [pp. 176-77]

In his prosecutorial zeal, Belin fails to mention this passage from Jackson's testimony:

Representative [Gerald] FORD: After the third shot and as the car hesitated, did you see any law enforcement officials move in any concentrated or concerted direction?

Mr. JACKSON. I saw at least one, there may have been more, run up the School Depository steps, toward the door. That is one of the things I saw in this confusion. [2 WCH 164]

People who live in glass houses . . .

Sometimes, Belin leaves traces of his cherry picking. On p. 231, he quotes a portion of the testimony of Charles Douglas Givens, an employee of the TSBD. He includes Givens's testimony that he saw Lee Harvey Oswald on the sixth floor of the TSBD around 11:55 AM, November 22, 1963. As the testimony appears in Belin's book, it includes ellipsis marks. These marks correspond to over three pages of Givens's testimony, as it appears in the Warren Commission hearings. In the omitted portion, Belin asks Givens if he ever told anyone that he had seen Oswald in the domino room on the first floor of the TSBD around 11:50 AM and Givens responds that he had not. Two FBI agents reported that Givens had done just that. The Commission had their report, but did not publish it.

As for the stupid part, sometimes Belin forgets to cherry pick. He expended a good deal of effort attempting to prove that Governor Connally's recollection that he first heard a shot and then felt a shot hit him was incorrect. (He shucked away this supposed achievement two decades later, but that's another matter.) If Connally had been right, and all of the shots were fired from the southeast corner of the sixth floor of the TSBD with the Mannlicher-Carcano found on the sixth floor, the first shot must have been fired while an oak tree blocked the line of sight between the southeast corner and the limousine. Belin wrote:

Now, jurors, we have major difference in testimony: Governor Connally testified he said 'Oh, no, no, no' after he was hit. Mrs. Connally said this was before the second shot. So did Mrs. Kennedy. [p. 325]

Right before this passage, Belin quotes Mrs. Connally's testimony:

Mrs. CONNALLY. In fact the receptions had been so good every place that I had showed much restraint by not mentioning something about it before.
I could resist no longer. When we got past this area I did turn to the President and said, "Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you."

Then I don't know how soon, it seems to me it was very soon, that I heard a noise, and not being an expert rifleman, I was not aware that it was a rifle. It was just a frightening noise, and it came from the right.

I turned over my right shoulder and looked back, and saw the President as he had both hands at his neck.

Mr. [Arlen] SPECTER. And you are indicating with your own hands, two hands crossing over gripping your own neck?

Mrs. CONNALLY. Yes; and it seemed to me there was--he made no utterance, no cry. I saw no blood, no anything. It was just sort of nothing, the expression on his face, and he just sort of slumped down.

Then very soon there was the second shot that hit John. As the first shot was hit, and I turned to look at the same time, I recall John saying, "Oh, no, no, no." [4 WCH 147]

So, the Connallys agreed that the second shot hit the Governor. They disagreed over when he said "Oh, no, no, no," but witnesses disagree, as Belin often reminds us.

It is essential to Belin's argument that Mesdames Connally and Kennedy heard all of the shots and did not mistake any other sound for a shot. Here is a passage from Mrs. Kennedy's Warren Commission testimony:

Mrs. KENNEDY. I think he [President Kennedy] said--I don't know if I remember it or I have read it, "No, you certainly can't," or something. And you know then the car was very slow and there weren't very many people around.

And then--do you want me to tell you what happened?

Mr. [J. Lee] RANKIN. Yes; if you would, please.

Mrs. KENNEDY. You know, there is always noise in a motorcade and there are always motorcycles beside us, a lot of them backfiring. So I was looking to the left. I guess there was a noise, but it didn't seem like any different noise really because there is so much noise, motorcycles and things. But then Governor Connally was yelling, "Oh, no, no, no." [5 WCH 180]

Here is another passage:

Mr. RANKIN. Do you have any recollection of whether there were one or more shots?

Mrs. KENNEDY. Well, there must have been two because the one that made me turn around was Governor Connally yelling. And it used to confuse me because first I remembered there were three and I used to think my huband [sic] didn't make any sound when he was shot. And Governor Connally screamed. And then I read the other day that it was the same shot that hit them both. But I used to think if I only had been looking to the right I would have seen the first shot hit him, then I could have pulled him down, and the second shot would not have hit him. But I heard Governor Connally yelling and that made me turn around, and as I turned to the right my husband was doing this [indicating with hand at neck]. He was receiving a bullet. And those are the only two I remember.

And I read there was a third shot. But I don't know. [5 WCH 180]

These passages contain all of the references to Governor Connally crying out "Oh, no, no, no" in Mrs. Kennedy's testimony. Mrs. Kennedy did not hear three shots; it seems that she did not hear any shots at all. Belin quoted the first passage on page 8 and pages 116-17 and the second on page 117. They refute his argument, but who cares? To Big Brother Belin, the idea that someone would challenge his assertions was unthinkable.

All of these omissions and distortions are merely reflections of Belin's basic lie. He committed it in his description of the Warren Commission's work:

For organizational purposes, our work was divided into six basic areas: Area I centered on the activities of the President, including the background planning of the trip to Texas, the planning of the motorcade through Dallas, the testimony of the persons in the motorcade, the treatment of the President in Parkland Memorial Hospital, and the autopsy.

Area II, in which Joe Ball and I worked, focused on the determination of who was (or were) the assassin(s) of President Kennedy and Officer Tippit.

Area III assumed the correctness of the preliminary reports of the FBI and Secret Service that Lee Harvey Oswald was involved in the assassination of the President. [p. 14]

On January 11, 1964, while the commission was still assembling its staff, J. Lee Rankin, its general counsel, "a fine lawyer and a man of high integrity" to Belin, sent out a progress report to the members of the commission. (It is reproduced in part on pages 467-72 of Post-Mortem by Harold Weisberg.) The report stated:

I am enclosing as Appendix C a tentative outline prepared by Mr. Rankin which I think will assist in organizing the evaluation of the investigative materials received by the Commission. This outline divides the work into the following six areas: (1) Assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963; (2) Lee Harvey Oswald as the Assassin of President Kennedy; (3) Lee Harvey Oswald; Background and Possible Motive; (4) Oswald's Foreign Activity (Military Excluded); (5) Murder of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack L. Ruby; and (6) Security Precautions to Protect the President.

No, Belin and Ball did not keep their minds open about Oswald's guilt or innocence while the other assistant counsels presumed his guilt: they all worked from a presumption of guilt. Belin couldn't describe his own actions honestly.

Frequently, and with much sound and fury, Belin proclaimed his own integrity and denounced "assassination sensationalists," i.e. those who disagreed with him. By now, you should have some idea of what these proclamations are worth. Harold Weisberg was fond of these lines of Diana in "All's Well That End Well":

'Tis not the many oaths that makes the truth,
But the plain single vow that is vow'd true.

They apply very well to Belin.