By W. Tracy Parnell
Critics of the book Case Closed by Gerald Posner have made many unfounded allegations about Mr. Posner and his motivation for writing the book. I decided to compare these allegations against known facts to see if they would hold water. This will be an ongoing project as these sorts of allegations are continually leveled against Posner in an attempt to discredit him and his work.
Allegation: No Lawyer would quit a lucrative practice (as Posner admittedly did) to become a writer. The CIA must actually support Posner in his efforts since he could not possibly support himself by writing alone.
Fact: Posner actually got into writing more or less by accident. At the age of 23, he had been one of the youngest attorneys ever hired by the Wall Street firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Posner soon found that he disliked practicing for a large firm and struck out on his own in 1980 (he later had a partner as well). It was while working as a pro bono attorney for one of the victims of Joseph Mengele that Posner unearthed a large archive of documents on the case. After determining the case could not be won, he decided to write a book on the subject using the information he had uncovered. After a six-month process that included an initial query and the addition of a co-writer, Posner was given a contract by McGraw-Hill to produce a Mengele book. He ultimately donated twenty percent of his portion of the proceeds to an organization supporting victims of the Nazi doctor. During the process of writing the book, he discovered that he thoroughly enjoyed the creative process and decided to focus on a full-time writing career.
Several attorneys have stopped practicing law to pursue a writing career. The most famous in recent memory is probably John Grisham, best-selling author of The Firm and The Pelican Brief to name two of his better known works. Other examples of lawyers turned writers include Stephen Brill and Scott Turow. But the person whose experience most closely parallels that of Posner is James B. Stewart who was once with the same law firm as the Case Closed author. Stewart, like Posner, is an investigative journalist. His bestsellers Blind Eye, Den of Thieves, and Blood Sport examined the topics of the medical profession, Wall Street, and the Clinton White House respectively. Like Posner, he is a contributor to various publications. Stewart was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 and won for his work in The Wall Street Journal, while Posner lost following his own nomination.
So there are clear examples of several lawyers who have indeed quit practicing law to write. There are undoubtedly many more such people out there. We likewise have an individual from Posner's own firm who pursued a career in investigative journalism just as Posner did. It seems Mr. Stewart has never been accused of being a CIA agent, as has Posner. Perhaps this is because Mr. Stewart has never written a book on the assassination of JFK. As for Posner's alleged dire monetary situation, this ignores his eight books dozens of articles and ongoing television appearances. He is also a regular panelist on the History Channel, a regular contributor to Talk magazine and a contributor to the Today show. His book Warlords of Crime has also been optioned for a major motion picture. While not rich, he manages to pay the bills and more importantly he enjoys what he does. Posner also enjoys working closely with his wife Trisha who is a talented writer and researcher.
Allegation: In Posner's book Mengele: The Complete Story, he states that no Intelligence agencies were to blame for the fact that Mengele was able to remain free for so many years. He thanks several Intelligence officials in the acknowledgements section of the book. This shows that Posner helped his friends in the Intelligence community and they repaid him by getting him a book contract for Case Closed.
Fact: In his book, Posner clearly states that counter-intelligence people had Mengele in their custody on two occasions and let him go due to their inability to identify him correctly. Posner could hardly be expected to reach this conclusion if he were "in the pocket" of the CIA and/or other agencies. Additionally, the officers mentioned by Posner in his book were actually Freedom of Information officers. In other words, the information they provided Posner was the same that they would have provided to any writer or ordinary citizen.
Allegation: Posner is not actually a professional writer but a paid disinformation specialist employed by the CIA.
Fact: There is not one scintilla of evidence that Posner works or has ever worked for any Intelligence agency. He has worked on a variety of topics unrelated to the assassination of JFK including:
1. The aforementioned case of the Nazi Joseph Mengele and related issues.
2. Ross Perot.
3. Princess Diana.
4. Motown Records.
5. Buying a used car.
6. Pete Rose.
7. O.J. Simpson.
… and many others. It would be interesting (and perhaps amusing) to see how critics of Posner would spin his article on buying a used car into something sinister.
As for the allegation that Posner cannot write, I will let the critics do the talking:
John Martin of ABC News says, "Gerald Posner is one of the most resourceful investigators I have encountered in thirty years of journalism." Garry Wills calls Posner "a superb investigative reporter," while the Los Angeles Times dubs him "a classic-style investigative journalist." "His work is painstakingly honest journalism" concluded The Washington Post. The New York Times lauded his "exhaustive research techniques" and The Boston Globe determined Posner is "an investigative journalist whose work is marked by his thorough and meticulous research." "A resourceful investigator and skillful writer," says The Dallas Morning News.
Allegation: Case Closed was published as a result of the Oliver Stone film JFK and was a CIA sponsored attempt to distract the attention of ordinary Americans from the truth in the JFK case.
Fact: First, Case Closed was already in the works when Stone's film was released. Secondly, This allegation ignores the fact that the film was indeed produced and the public (ignorant of the actual facts including Garrison's bogus inquiry) demanded the ARRB and got it. This certainly should prove to be the nightmare of all nightmares for the "powers that be". But the files (in large part) were released and much to the surprise of critics and the public contained no smoking gun. Besides, if "they" really wanted to kill Stone's film or the ARRB wouldn't "they" have the power to do so? After all, "they" could kill JFK and organize a vast conspiracy that united the FBI, CIA, military-industrial complex, and who knows who else. A secret organization that commanded power of that sort certainly would not be in need of Gerald Posner to write a book!
Allegation: Case Closed was not a bestseller.
Fact: Case Closed was on the New York Times bestseller list for six weeks, peaking at number eight. It was also selected as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History.
Allegation: Posner's novel The Bio-Assassins was optioned for movie rights in spite of the fact that it was his first novel and not a bestseller. This again proves Posner had help from high sources.
Fact: The novel was optioned in 1990 by an aspiring screenwriter for a nominal fee. The novel never sold as a movie and all rights have since reverted to Posner.