Mark Lane, one of the earliest, most vocal and controversial critics of the Warren Commission died last week on May 10th. He was 89 years old, and remained active to the end. Lane rankled many feathers in the contentious Kennedy assassination research community, yet provided some of the earliest and best leads to uncovering the conspiracy. While he is best known for his work on the Kennedy case, it should be noted that as an attorney/activist he worked on many civil rights issues, and political causes in New York State also. Before we take a look at Lanes legacy, watch this really, really excellent debate between Lane and the legendary William F. Buckley on “Firing Line” from 1966:
Buckley, some will remember, was a CIA agent himself. It is therefore somewhat ironic that he is attempting to debunk Lane’s theory of the assassination. It has also been reported that it was Buckley who recruited E. Howard Hunt to work for the CIA, as Hunt is directly linked to the plot.
What is also fascinating is the supreme level of discourse between the two men, as Lane begins to win over the studio audience. Compare this chess-level give and take to any of the crap on television today.
Lane came out strong immediately after the Kennedy assassination by requesting to represent Oswald’s interests as attorney after Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby while being escorted by Dallas Police. He was later permitted to give testimony to the Warren Commission, but not cross-examine witnesses.
He is probably best known for his first book “Rush To Judgement”, which was on The New York Times bestseller list for 29 weeks.
In the sometimes oversensitive assassination research community, Lane developed some enemies. Researcher Mae Brussell loathed him as Lane had publicly insulted her, largely because she was pursuing the Nazi and far right-wing angles of the assassination while Lane was a believer that the CIA was responsible. Lane was later accused of being a little too close to various CIA assets himself, a charge that never seemed to stick.
Lane would again stumble into controversy at the time of the massacres at Jonestown Guyana. Lane served as attorney for Reverend Jim Jones, and traveled to the remote jungle commune at the time of the murder-suicide of over 900 Americans, including Congressman Leo Ryan. Ryan was shot on a runway after he inspected the compound. Lane claims he and a handful of others miraculously escaped the killing spree. His controversial book on the subject is “The Strongest Poison”. Congressman Ryan’s assistant Joe Holsinger had publicly stated that he knew for a fact that Lane had fabricated some aspects the horrible incident.
Later, Lane took heat for representing the Liberty Lobby, a far right-wing group infested with Birchers and neo-Nazis. In their publication “The Spotlight”, Howard Hunt was accused of being involved in the assassination of Kennedy. Hunt sued and won, but on appeal Lane convinced a jury that Hunt had indeed been a paymaster to individuals involved in the assassination. His book about that trial was called “Plausible Denial”. I have read both “The Strongest Poison” and ” Plausible Denial”.
Despite what some feel about Lane, he will be remembered as having the intellect, nerve, and guts to stand alone against the grinding machinery of the U.S. Government as the assassination cover-up ensued. Lane was an inspiration to many thousands of citizens who came to realize that the highest powers of government were lying to them.