Ellen Ray Memorial
In Memory Of Ellen Ray
Ellen Ray was a courageous journalist and a political visionary
She took on the CIA. She took them on from month-to-month for 27 years in the publication of the great magazine Covert Action Quarterly.
And she took them on as president of Sheridan Square press, with the publication of the historic book of New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison called “on the trail of the assassins.”
History of the CIA. 1947 founded. 1948, memorandum making it a paramilitary organization. Could do all kinds of things. Doctrine of plausible deniability.
From 1948 thru 1967 they killed or planned to kill 19 Leaders of foreign countries. They were successful in murdering Patrice Lumumba and Che Guevara.
They also murdered, as Ellen and Bill believed, and as I believe, and as many in this room believe,John F. Kennedy, the president of the United States.
Imagine the reaction of young people like Ellen or me, then college students, to the murder of Kennedy. We all remember exactly what we were doing that day in November 1963 when we heard the news. Many of us thought and hoped that it was not a black person.
But the official story that was put out was that Kennedy was murdered by lone assassin, a leftist. The photograph of Lee Harvey Oswald that was published had him holding up a socialist newspaper in one and a rifle in the other and a pistol on his hip. The sun was behind him and there was a shadow from his nose on his face. we thought, either there were two Suns in the sky that day or this is a doctored photograph and a concocted story.
Jim Garrison, the district attorney of New Orleans, brought the only prosecution of anyone involved in the assassination. He brought New Orleans businessman and CIA operative Clay Shaw to trial. The trial was sabotaged by the government and Garrison lost it.
He wrote a book about what he learned. Ellen Ray and Bill Schaap published that book. It was edited by our friend Zach Sklar who is here today.
And next, because Ellen was nothing if not bold, she cornered the famous director Oliver Stone in an elevator and urged him to read the book and eventually got him to do the film JFK. Zach wrote the film script. The film won an Academy award and it’s great achievement was to popularized the notion that the government lied to us.
Ellens prescient vision became more acceptable We now know through the scholarship over the last 50 years, particularly that of James Douglas in his book “JFK and the unspeakable” that the CIA murdered Kennedy because he was trying to end the cold war. He was pulling troops out of Vietnam and had established back channels with both Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro.
To show Ellen’s courage I want to relate a story told to me by Ray McGovern. McGovern was a CIA agent for 27 years. He was the man who debriefed President George Bush every morning. He broke with the government over Iraq. He and others.
Formed VIPS. Heidi and I interviewed him for our radio show. McGovern said that a friend and fellow VIPer had attended a small cocktail party with President Obama in Georgetown. The friend had a private conversation with Obama and asked him why he did not reign in the CIA, take away their drones, prosecute them for torture. And Obama answered: “don’t you know what they did to Kennedy.”
McGovern said he believed Obama The commander-in-chief was afraid of the CIA. Ellen Ray, from grand isle Nebraska, was not.
It was Ellen’s great achievement to have pioneered the unveiling of this hidden history.
Ellen and torture. She wrote with Michael Ratner Guantánamo: What The World Should Know. The first book on Guantánamo exposing what the United States was doing there.
But before that, she had become friendly with the Algerian leftist editor on Henri Alleg who had been tortured during the Algerian war of independence. Alleg was picked up by the French in Algiers and tortured. He was water boarded. He called his book “the question. “. Because he would never answer even their first question, knowing that if you did it would inevitably lead to much more. Every day he wrote down what they were doing to him on a piece of toilet tissue and smuggled it out. The book was printed in France with an introduction by Jean Paul Sartre and promptly banned, making it a bestseller. When the book was recently republished by the University of Nebraska press it was Ellen Ray who wrote the introduction. And when Alleg came to New York he dined in their apartment of EllenRay and Bill Schaap.
Her exquisite taste, from the man she married, to the clothes she wore: beautifully cut and fabrics of Cashmere silk and linen, usually not bought new..from the furniture in her apartment, chairs from the state house in Lincoln Nebraska, to the paintings in her bedroom, mostly nudes, you could call it a boudoir.
As Karen and Michel wrote. She was Wikileaks before computers.
Ellen will be remembered for her kindness and high spirits and political sagacity and for courage and her beauty. We say what the Sandinistas said in remembering a fallen comrade. Ellen Ray presente.
Law and Disorder hosts remember Ellen Ray. She was a documentary filmmaker, publisher, journalist and activist. Ellen Ray was co-publisher of the magazine Covert Action Information Bulletin, which exposed CIA covert actions around the world, publishing the names of hundreds of CIA agents. As a result, the law changed (The Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982) making it illegal. As head of Sheridan Square Press, Ellen Ray published the memoir of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, which became the basis of Oliver Stone’s film, “JFK.” Ray is survived by her husband, attorney Bill Schaap, she was 75.