Sunday, March 02, 2008
The Value of Good Research
Today I am prompted to write about the value of good research. Folks in the other camp are making claims that they clearly have not researched. It also clearly indicates how little they really knew about John Keehan.
I have had a lot of people doubt whether he was in the military and this is one of the first issues I dealt with and resolved when I started the film.
No one I spoke to really knew Keehan's full story, not even people close to him. He was different things to different people. Even some of Keehan's closest friend's did not know he was in the military or had any involvement in the Purolator robbery.
Some of this is probably due to his dishonorable discharge from the Army, reportedly two months into his tour of duty, according to his FBI records. These records were released to me under the Freedom of Information Act. Why should he share this particular information? He told Mas Ayoob about it in 1975, before he died.
A letter I received from the National Personnel Records Center indicate John Keehan was clearly in the Marine Corp Reserves, was honorably discharged and then enlisted directly into the US Army.
His FBI records provided me with his service number for the US Army and also reported on the nature of his dishonorable discharge and his behavior during his time in stockade while in the Army.
Fall River continues to attempt to undermine the validity of my research in a way that clearly shows them up as not knowing as much as they claim. There is clearly a problem with reading comprehension, it seems.
To say that Keehan's claim to have armed Castro is bogus is fair enough. I never said I believed him, but I have found some evidence that there was an operation by the US Military to arm the Cuban Revolution in 1959, to hasten the fall of the tyrant and torturer, Fulgenio Batista(descriptions conveniently overlooked when talking about Batista and now aimed at Fidel) who was clearly politically impotent at this point and preparing to flee the country. Even Batista's best friend Meyer Lansky could not convince him to hold on and they all felt betrayed, as if there is ever any honor among thieves.
In seeking to preserve US interest and gain favor with the clearly victorious Castro it makes a certain strategic sense for there to have been an "Operation Water Buffalo."
My corroboration of this story Keehan told to a martial arts magazine can be traced to martial artist Harry Smith, head of the Marine Karate Team that attended the 1964 World Karate Tournament in Chicago at the Coliseum. Smith says he supplied Fidel Castro with arms while Castro was hiding in the Escombray Mountains by concealing them in water holding tanks. Smith says he was also assigned to Howard Hunt, Frank Sturgis and Rolando Martinez and was captured at the Playa Giron, (Bay of Pigs). While I have not proved Keehan was involved in the operation I have a source to get an interview from if I need to and he choose to speak with me. He could tell me with some authority that it happened.
I got more fodder for conspiracy theories than I need right here, with Hunt, Sturgis and Martinez all being tied to Watergate and the Kennedy Assassination. Geezusssss I am scaring myself.
It is likely that Castro was perceived as another two-bit South American dictator that would be easily bought out with Swiss Villas and bank accounts. History clearly indicates Castro is an entirely unique individual and was not going to be punked the way Manuel Noreiga of Panama was, or empowered and then thrown to the wolves the way Augusto Pinochet of Chile was.
Keehan may have been been acquiring stories Smith told him and claiming them as his own. But to a national magazine? Hell, I don't know the truth, I try to get close as I can without getting embarrassed if I report it. The best part for me is I get to review a lot of history I learned back in the day and look at fresh with new perspectives. Whatever you say about Fidel, he never had to get used to the taste of ass. Ask Noreiga about that. Most importantly, he never had to be a fall guy like Saddam.
Let's face it, we have allowed our government to make some strange choices of friends. Don't believe me, look at history. I guess Castro was just not the right kind of tyrant, he preferred Cuban beaches to Swiss Villas.
But those Nukes? Castro, dude, bad bad move. Good thing, Nikita Khrushchev was feeling jolly and re-thought that shit. We actually did duck and cover drills in Haines School in Chinatown back then. Where we were, two miles from downtown, we would have been dust in the wind, all mixed up in black rain.
Call me a Castro sympathizer all you like. All I knew back as a child in those days is that Fidel was not standing in the way of my cousins going to school in Georgia, he was not bombing any body's houses for trying to vote and had nothing to do with the death of Emmet Till.
Fidel did not stand by and let Vorster and Smith run roughshod over the South Africans nor did he stand by and allow Mozambique and Angola to fight alone. Che split to Congo to help after Eisenhower signed Patrice Lumumba's death warrant and soon left calling Laurent Kabila a punk on the way out. Quite a few of the Anti-Castro Bay of Pigs guys went after Che in Congo as part of the CIA support, hooking up with the mercenary Mad Mike Hoare. Fidel was welcome in the hood, in Harlem, and if he had come to Chicago.
I know, I know...growing up under racial terror is not exactly an American conversation. But what the hell, deal with it.
Most surprising from the Fall River crew are the online public accusations he makes against a former Illinois Governor, James Thompson. Cutting and pasting a thing found on the internet does not make it true and I want to distance myself from such statements here and now. I am doing my own research and investigations and I do not believe just anything Sherman Skolnick says, and will not report idle rumors and conspiracy theories with no proof whatsoever. I knew Skolnick and he was a lovable conspiracy theorist but I prefer to find them on my own. Skolnick's claims about the Purolator Robbery never found their way to courtroom. Fall River reprinted Skolnick's internet article with no attribution in what I consider an extremely irresponsible manner.
The one person reporting all this stuff was never in Chicago and gets all of his information 4th hand. I have done the research and my conclusions will be based on what I can prove, not what I read by conspiracy theorists online and sounds good. I have so much "good stuff" for the film I can prove that I don't need to include things that compromise the character and reputations of people needlessly and that open me up for yet more litigation.
They know the truth and I don't. Every time they make these claims their aim is to enhance the urban mythology. I am seeking to demystify it in the film and define the person and mythology in a clear sense, with a focus on bringing about a richly researched social history of martial arts.
The film is about more than John Keehan, though he is at the center. It is about more than Fall River, where he spends time before the end. It is about more than Chicago, where he made the majority of his contributions and transgressions.
So in closing I say the work I am doing is no joke. This is a serious endeavor and I will not allow myself or anyone else to trivialize this story. I am wokring to uncover and examine the realities of some serious issues and history revolving around an incredible character, Count Dante.