Whodunnit xix: Truth vs. Agenda (c)

Before I let Salandria go, another episode comes to mind. In January 2012, Arlen Specter took him to lunch. Specter, who would serve 30 years in the U.S. Senate, but he is best known to conspiracists, like Salandria, for creating the “magic bullet” theory while assistant counsel to the Warren Commission, which they consider the lynch pin of the cover-up. Both Specter and Salandria were in their 80s when they dined – and Specter would die of cancer within the year. To me it seemed like Moby Dick asking Ahab out for a farewell bowl of plankton.
Some, who have read Salandria’s account of this lunch, have interpreted Specter’s invitation as his seeking forgiveness, but I don’t see it. It isn’t apparent from what Salandria reports. It doesn’t fit what I know of Specter’s character. And if he needed forgiveness from anyone, it was Anita Hill for what he did to her during Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings. The meeting Salandria describes seems friendly, and at the end, Specter left smiling. But mainly it consisted of Specter’s single-sentence questions (What was the reason for the assassination? Do you talk to Mark Lane often?) and Salandria’s multi-paragraph answers.
During their conversation, Salandria volunteers he told Specter that, had he been given his “assignment” “to frame Lee Harvey Oswald as Kennedy’s killer,” he would have acted similarly. “As a lawyer I would have been obliged to serve the best interest of my client, the United States government.” This is an astonishing admission. Salandria in not only wrong in his understanding of a lawyer’s role, he hovers somewhere between the comically and the criminally wrong.
The ABA’s Code of Ethics forbids a lawyer representing someone before a tribunal to offer evidence he knows to be false.” A lawyer may also refuse to offer evidence he “reasonably believes is false.” And if he later learns evidence he offered was false, he must take “remedial measures.” His obligation to “the integrity of the adjudicative process” outweighs even his duty to his client. (True, the Warren Commission may not have constituted a “tribunal,” but I doubt Salandria was making this distinction.) That someone, who was himself a member of the Bar, believed it proper for an attorney to manufacture evidence to “frame” someone of a crime is as hard to believe as… Well, as hard to believe as someone’s finding Rose Cheramie a repository for the truth. Salandria ends his article by quoting Sophocles: “Truly, to tell lies is not honorable; but where truth entails tremendous ruin, to speak dishonorably is pardonable.” This opens the door quite a bit to “the end justifies the means” thinking; and I cannot help believing, given what I have seen of Salandria’s arguments, that while he thinks he is accounting for Specter’s behavior, he is, in fact, accounting for his own.
When Arlen Specter left smiling, it may not have been because he felt redeemed. It may have been because he had confirmed he had lunched with someone with views unworthy of serious consideration.