Randy Benson is an award-winning film documentarian and a researcher into the JFK assassination.
8 early researchers into the JFK assassination
A member of the New York Bar Association for more than five decades, Lane formed the Citizen’s Committee of Inquiry after Kennedy’s assassination. Lane was retained by Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother to represent Oswald posthumously before the Warren Commission hearings.
A former New York state legislator, Lane has written several books on the assassination, including The New York Times 1966 best-seller Rush to Judgment. One of the first books critical of the Warren Commission’s conclusions, it was the focus of many concerted attacks by the FBI and the CIA.
Its companion documentary of the same name (1967, directed by Emile de Antonio) was the first film critical of the Warren Report.
Lane represented Liberty Lobby Inc. in its successful appeal in a libel case brought by former CIA agent E. Howard Hunt, convincing the federal jury that Hunt and the CIA were involved in the assassination.
A graduate of Yale University, Thompson served on the U.S. Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team 21. He is also a former professor at Haverford College in Philadelphia.
Now a private investigator, Thompson published his book Six Seconds in Dallas—A Micro-Study of the Kennedy Assassination in 1967, arguing that four shots were fired by three gunmen. Many researchers consider it the best book ever published on the JFK assassination.
Jones, who died in 1998, was a veteran of many major military campaigns in World War II. Immediately after the assassination, Jones began his investigations, which were included in four volumes of Forgive My Grief that he published in 1966, 1967, 1974 and 1976.
In 1964, Jones held a moment of silence in Dealey Plaza at 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 22. He observed the tradition every year until his death; his mentee, John Judge, who founded the Coalition on Political Assassination, continues the tradition to this day.
Brussel, a stay-at-home mother of five, began looking into the Kennedy assassination in 1963. An indefatigable researcher, Brussel was given a weekly radio show on KLRB in Stuart, Okla. The name of the show, World Watchers International, played on the term Weight Watchers, with the hopes of attracting women; it ran from 1971 to until Brussel’s death in 1988.
Weisberg served in the Office of Strategic Service (OSS), the predecessor of the CIA, in World War II. After the war, he became a Department of State intelligence analyst.
He began his investigation into the assassination of JFK in 1963 and collected more than 250,000 government papers on the case. An author of eight books on the assassination, his first, Whitewash: The Report on the Warren Report, published in 1965, sold upward of 30,000 copies. Weisberg died in 2002.
Farrell, a stay-at-home mother of three, was a tireless researcher who began her collection of documents and accounts into the assassination on Nov. 23, 1963.
In 2004, the Mary Farrell Foundation was founded. It contains more than 1.2 million pages of declassified government documents.
Meagher worked at the World Health Organization as a research analyst. She began her investigation into the assassination after the 26-volume Warren Report was released, but without an index.
She wrote that to release such an enormous report without an index was “tantamount to the search for information in the Encyclopedia Britannica if the contents were untitled, unalphabetized and in random sequence.”
Meagher began a yearlong effort to create the first complete index of the Warren Report and, in 1965, released Subject Index to the Warren Report and Hearings and Exhibits.
House Select Committee on Assassinations member Richard Schweiker stated that her work “clearly establish[es] Sylvia Meagher’s major contribution to understanding this tragic incident in our nation’s history … and was instrumental in finally causing a committee of Congress—with full subpoena power, access to classified documents, and a working knowledge of the nuances of the FBI and CIA—to take a second official look at what happened in Dallas November 22, 1963.” She died in 1989.
Salandria, a longtime civil rights lawyer, was among the first researchers critical of the Warren Commission. His 1964 article, which appeared in the Legal Intelligencer, the oldest law journal in the U.S., argued that the medical evidence shows that JFK had been shot by more than one gunman.
Through his early articles, Liberation (1965) and The Minority of One (1966), Salandria earned a reputation as “one of the true heroes of the critical community concerned with the Kennedy assassination.”
This article appeared in print with the headline “Undaunted and unafraid.”