By James DiEugenio
I finally understood the influence and reputation that the late Mark Lane had in America when I arrived in Pittsburgh for the Cyril Wecht Symposium at Duquesne in the fall of 2013. At the airport, I was picked up in a private car and driven to my hotel. The driver asked me what I was in town for. I replied a JFK conference on the 50th Anniversary at Duquesne. He asked me if Mark Lane was going to be there. I said yes he was. He replied that he wrote his first research paper back in college many years ago on the JFK case, and he used a lot of the work of Lane in doing it. He asked me to thank Lane for that inspiration. When I arrived at the hotel, I did see Mark and I conveyed the debt of gratitude from my driver.
After I did so I went up to my room and thought: Geez, there must be literally tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people across America who feel that way about Lane. For the simple reason that Lane was literally the prime mover in the dissent movement against the official version of the Kennedy assassination. Within just three weeks of Kennedy’s death, Lane had issued the first legal arguments against the public stampede to condemn the memory of the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, who had been shot and killed by Jack Ruby while in the custody of the Dallas police. Lane wanted to publish his defendant’s brief in The Nation. But that liberal journal—and several other periodicals-- would not accept it. So he went to the even more leftist journal The National Guardian.
At that conference in Pittsburgh, there were a few copies of that original essay on a coffee table. Lane picked one up and said to me, “They had to print several reprints of this issue. They eventually sold a hundred thousand of them.” This was in mid-December of 1963, two weeks after the first meeting of the Warren Commission, when every major media outlet in America was accommodating leaks from people like Jerry Ford, J. Edgar Hoover and Allen Dulles about how compelling the case against Oswald was. But there was Mark Lane, the one attorney standing up for a dead man who was being walked over by every public and private institution in America.