Today I had the opportunity to chat with Larry Hancock about his new book Someone Would Have Talked. If you are interested in the JFK assassination, this is a must have for your bookcase. Following is the result of both an email exchange and a telephone interview. You can find my book review here.

Simon@BNN: Larry let me first say that I greatly enjoyed your book, and thank you for taking time out to talk to me today. I was wondering how and when you first started to get interested in the Kennedy assassination?

Larry Hancock: Probably like everyone that watched Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald live on TV, I had a certain skepticism about how the events could have occurred. At the time I paid no attention to the Warren Commission (I was too young), The Garrison investigation happened while I was in college, and I do recall wondering what events that happened in New Orleans could possibly have to do with the Dallas assassinations.

My real interest started in the early 90’s when I bought Jim Marrs book. Jim pointed out so much information that had been neglected or altered that I began to become very interested.

A year or so later while on a business trip to Dallas I saw the filming of the JFK movie. That movie got me hooked on the subject and I have studied it pretty obsessively ever since. Along the way I have got to know Jim Marrs, and I have repeatedly mentioned to him that his book has taken years out of my life!

Simon: I seem to recall reading that you are involved with a computer company (although I can not place where I read this, sometimes the internet is just too big!). You must have had some very long days working and researching. Your book is accompanied with a pretty comprehensive web site, do you see this as the future for factual books, a marriage between traditional media and online?

Larry: I graduated from college in 1970. My working career started with a 4 year enlistment with the Air Force specializing in computerized telecommunication equipment. That let to a 20 year involvement the telecomm industry, mainly in the technical training aspects.

I had a great deal of involvement with advertising and marketing, and for the last 12 years prior to retirement at the end of 2006 I was involved with the marketing and advertising of Personal Computers and communication equipment. I traveled a lot, and almost always I would have JFK books or other research documents with me.

In regard to the book and the web site, yes, I think that my publisher and I see this as the future for historical writing. It is a way to give the reader access to the primary research documents, photos, and other material that could not be put into a book.

We are hoping to enhance the site to contain audio and video clips of interviews and other contextual material.

Simon: As time passes the trail grows cold, yet as time passes more and more documents come to light as they are declassified. Is the time lag between an event and the release of information through the FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) too long?

Larry: Yes, the time lag is far too long. It keeps researchers from seeing material which would allow them to interview primary sources while their memories are relatively fresh. With the existing system it is questionable whether sources will even be alive, never mind about what they can recall. Of course that may be desirable for some of the parties involved.

It totally defeats private and independent investigations of criminal activities. The HSCA investigation was defeated by the very agencies that it needed for access to the source documents. Unfortunately the HSCA committed the double sin of then classifying what material they did manage to turn up, effectively preventing anyone from checking their findings.

Simon: How big a help were online resources in your research? For example I noticed that there is a very active Usenet newsgroup about JFK and a cursory look shows your name mentioned, did any help come from this arena?

Larry: Online resources are immensely helpful as long as they are of professional quality and historically vetted. Good examples are the National Archives, History Matters, The Mary Ferrell Archives and the JFK Lancer site.

Unfortunately there are also a host of sites that contain rumor and speculation rather than hard facts. Research on the web is a double edged sword.

As far as the Usenet forums go, they are a valuable source for meeting and evaluating other researchers and for getting help with questions. I have met a lot of extremely good people however most of the new and groundbreaking work tends to come from more private forms of communication.

Simon: The Warren Commission clearly did a very poor job, some might say incompetent, others call it something far worse. I for one am in agreement with you that pressure was extended to sweep the awkward stuff under the rug. Do you think we could have a repeat of this kind of activity in this day and age of CNN, the internet, etc.

Larry: I doubt that any commission or politically appointed group can ever successfully investigate a crime with political or national security ramifications. The agencies will always tend to protect themselves. Including protecting their sources and methods, including covering their rear ends!
Without the legal ability to force individuals to tell the truth, and disclose information without regard to security conventions, and then to enforce legal penalties these fact finding missions are destined to fail.

A good example of that was the ARRB who warned the Secret Service not to destroy presidential travel records from 1963 and then discovered that the agency had immediately destroyed several boxes of material. However no action was taken because it was felt that it could hamper further work with the agency.

I do not think that our current system has a chance to meaningfully investigate such crimes and incidents. This casts doubt over any official inquiry. If the president can claim executive privilege over such minor things like, who attended a meeting, how could you ever seriously investigate a truly embarrassing incident under a given presidents watch?

Simon: You were/are investigating an event that happened 4 decades ago however there are obviously special interest groups that for one reason or another would like sleeping dogs to remain sleeping. Were you concerned at anytime that you stirring up interest from the wrong places?

Larry: There is no bout that on occasion, generally late at night I have had a few bouts of paranoia. There have also been indications that some of those special interest groups are aware of my work.

That said, I deal solely with public source material, I did not attempt any true street investigative work. My book is one that describes the nature of the conspiracy rather than trying to take specific living individuals to task. If I was involved in a criminal investigation it could be a very different story

Simon: You mentioned earlier that you have recently retired, what is next for Larry Hancock?

Larry: For the past year or so I have become interested in the RFK assassination. That is going to be my next project.

Simon: JFK Lancer seems to be a very supportive organization, have you been working with them for a long time?

Larry: I first got involved with JFK Lancer by attending their conferences, one thing led to another, and I found myself chairing some sessions. Things just gelled from that point.

Simon: How are early sales of Someone Would Have Talked going?

Larry: Among researchers early sales are going well. There are many people interested in the JFK assassination. In general I would say that sales are going well.

Simon: Hindsight is 20/20, if you knew then how much time this project would take, would you have done it?

Larry: The project started as a research paper. I doubt that I would have started it with a book in mind.

Simon: You are obviously a fan of what the internet has to offer for an author such as yourself, yet you still opted to produce a real paper book, did you consider the e-book format?

Larry: Real books are better. Although real books have their own problems. If you are looking for a book in your local library and it is not a popular book, the chances are they have disposed of it. My wife is a librarian, and she has told me how books that have not been checked out for a while, are disposed of.

Simon: One of the challenges facing an author today is competition for shelf space in the traditional bricks and mortar book store. Organizations like Amazon remove that barrier, how important is the internet for sales?

Larry: The internet is very important. It is almost impossible to get shelf space in the book stores. If we depended on the traditional system no niche author would have a chance.

Simon: Your book does an excellent job of explaining the likely culprits and the interplay between them, even the likely motives that each had. Is there a ‘smoking gun’ waiting to be uncovered?

Larry: I think it is unlikely. There are two possibilities that exist. Someone on their death bed may open a new chapter, or, some new official documentation may be made public.

Simon Barrett

http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

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