The Georgia Straight Magazine |
July 18 1997
High Tech 1543
by Dave Watson
It used to be difficult to get published and distribute your thoughts to the world.
At one time all "publishing" was done by scribes or monks copying documents one by one. That form of media (composed of marks on soft clay, papyrus, sheepskin or parchment) had obvious limitations. Then, about 540 years ago Johann Gutenberg devised movable type, which meant you could print the Bible and stuff without having to carve each page (in reverse!) on a block of wood first. Even so, it took a few centuries for printing presses to move down to the masses.
Now that many of us have computers, which can function very well as printing presses, information is increasingly published in digital form and distributed online or on disk. That's not only faster and more efficient, it also makes the process of publishing much cheaper and easier. That, in turn, draws people into becoming publishers. One such example is Len Osanic, 40, studio manager for Fiasco Bros. Recording Studios in New Westminster. He had no plans to be a publisher, but then he found something he felt needed publishing and created a Windows CD-ROM titled ; "The Collected Works of Col. L. Fletcher Prouty", along with an associated website (http://home.xl.ca/fiasco/prouty).
Now, this is really several stories. We have an audio engineer learning how to make a CD-ROM by just getting in and doing it, then marketing the product online. Or we could have a bunch more high-minded statements about the wonders of the modern age of communications technology. But instead I'm
most inspired by the content on this disk - those collected works. After all, it's the content that compelled Osanic to make the thing. First, let's introduce Col. Prouty through the way most people might know of him- as the model for the character of X played by Donald Sutherland in Oliver Stone's movie JFK. While the film might give the impression that X was merely a narrative convenience popping up to ask probing questions, Col. Prouty is, in real life, one of the most interesting figures in the world of conspiracy theorists.
Prouty, now about 80 years old, spent 23 years in the U.S. military, was awarded the Legion of Merit among other decorations (back in the old days, when they didn't just hand out medals for valetorious mess hall cleaning during the invasion of Grenada) and was appointed the first Clandestine Operations liason officer between the CIA and the Air Force in 1955, involving him in all sorts of fascinating nastiness such as meetings for MK-ULTRA, the CIA's investigation of the potential military value of hallucenigenic drugs. But it's his stints as Briefing Officer for The U.S. Secretary of Defence and for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1960 to 1963 that make him most fascinating to conspiracy buffs because, as the back of the package says, "Col. Prouty was at the nerve center of the Military-Industrial Complex at a time unequaled in American history." Oddly enough, he was abruptly reassigned to tour some VIPs around Antarctica just prior to JFK's murder, but he saw photos of people he knew in Dallas that day...
In the early '70s, as events like the publishing of The Pentagon Papers began to expand the boundaries of once-privileged knowledge, Col. Prouty began writing about what he knew in magazine articles and in two books, one of which (The Secret Team) is included on the disk. The next version of the CD-ROM will also include JFK, now that the rights have reverted back to Prouty. Osanic says he will make that material available to purchasers of the current version of the software. He also forwards email to Prouty via the website, and publishes the answers online.
The outstanding thing about Prouty's work, compared to the bulk of assassination literature (which I just happen to be extremely well read in) is the way that he doesn't leap to conclusions, he just tells what he knows. Prouty's information is backed up on the disk by various official documents, but the power of his work is in the straightforward way he talks in response to intelligent questions. There's no way someone could weave such stories between the lines of real events and documents without tripping up. And if he doesn't know something or isn't sure, he'll say so.
Osanic, like me, has had a long-time interest in what he calls "the greatest murder mystery of the century". That led him to send a letter to Col. Prouty a few years back with 20 specific questions about the assassination. Prouty replied, more correspondence followed, and eventually Osanic went to visit him with recording devices and literally hundreds of questions written out. As Osanic explained, "he hates it when people just ask him 'Who shot JFK?', but if you've done your research and ask him intelligent questions he will answer them."
Those interview sessions are among the eight hours of audio included on the CD-ROM, and are really the highlight of the disk. Even the actual program interface is clean, professional and functional (with a handy print button always available), the information is very well grouped and arranged, it's a very good product. The next version of the CD-ROM will be dual-platform for PCs and Macs, although motivated Mac users like myself can access all the text files and audio clips off the existing disk by opening the files individually, and without the features of the interface. However, if the subject material is of any interest to you, it's more than worth the effort.