SEEING THROUGH The Gemstone – Jim Keith – 1996
At a certain point, while researching my book on the Gemstone File, I changed my mind about it. Initially, I had been very skeptical, but in something short of minor satori, I became less skeptical and realized that virtually everything of importance that Bruce Roberts had said for these 20 years ago could be true. That is, the Mafia really could have been involved in the JFK, RFK, and MLK hits, and Aristotle Onassis, while there’s not a hint of it in his standard biographies, could have been the “Mr. Big” ordering the hits.
That’s the thesis of Gemstone, in a nutshell, but it’s embroidered with any number of other different strange and unsavory events within the 24 pages of that samizdat classic, the dark mini-history of the 20th century that has circulated hand-to-hand since 1974.
Why hadn’t I believed Gemstone to begin with? To be blunt, the thing reeks of the spy-world paranoia of a man with no apparent connections to the intelligence agencies.
All deaths are mysterious in the world of conspiracy research, and Bruce Roberts’ death is no exception. Before his death, he wrote something on the order of 1000 pages of letters, purporting to expose the inner workings of the Mafia and the U.S. government, and sent those letters to his mother and sundry other figures like Marshall Tito and Anwar Sadat. The letters existed, and some still exist; we have the word of Mae Brussell, Stephanie Caruana, and Paul Krassner on that. I myself have yet to see a single page of the original Roberts letters.
All I have to go on is what the rest of us have seen, namely “The Skeleton Key to the Gemstone File,’’ and a continuing bramble-laden correspondence with Stephanie Caruana, the woman who edited the Gemstone letters down from 1000 pages to a 24-page synopsis. I’d spent some time trying to locate her while working on the book, and had had no luck. And then, by accident, if there are such things, I ran across her name and address.
Caruana is very concerned that her address or other information doesn’t leak out (she’s survived 18 years since she published the Skeleton Key, but since some of the corrupt principals of the Gemstone Files live, she’d just as soon “lie low”), so I won’t give you any clues. Suffice to say that she’s been doing other things since the Skeleton Key.
Caruana believes utterly in the truth of the Gemstone File, and believes Roberts to have been the bravest man she ever met. She thinks that I’m a dilettante who only indulges in “conspiracy theory” because I’m certain that it couldn’t be true, but she has taken the time to answer any questions. She also has eight pages of Roberts’ original letters and an expanded 60-page “Skeleton Key” (with photos) that no one I know has ever seen. She wants $4500 for photocopies of those items.
In putting the book together, I began researching the individual events depicted in the Skeleton Key, and at a certain point, things seemed to at least partially crystallize. The Skeleton Key, for instance, maintains that Howard Hughes was kidnapped by the Mafia and replaced by a lookalike. It turns out that everyone and his brother has speculated on the same thing at one time or another: Charles Colson, the IRS, Carl Oglesby – lots of people. It’s at least as plausible as the other theories about what happened to Hughes.
Onassis was more difficult. I read half-a-dozen biographies of the Greek tycoon, looking for something – anything – that would suggest he was anything more than wily, and found nothing. But then connections finally started to fall into place and I found out that Onassis hung out with Nazis, Mafia, and men with identifiable links to the JFK assassination. You might even say I glimpsed a tentacle of Danny Casolaro’s “Octopus.”
These associations don’t absolutely prove that Onassis was up to the dirty work that he’s portrayed as doing in the Gemstone File, but it did make the whole conception quite plausible. And then, W. Scott Walker called me from Lake Tahoe, and tried to threaten me off from the book. He’s the publisher of a book (and I use the term loosely, since I’ve had a chance to peruse the thing) by Peter Renzo, called Beyond the Gemstone Files.
It’s basically a crappy rip-off of the Caruana Skeleton Key, which Renzo claims are the files that G. Gordon Liddy “thought he had burned.” Walker maintains that Renzo is ex-CIA, and an ex-member of the “Fighting Tigers Assassination Squad.” He also implied that if I went ahead with my plans for doing a book on the Gemstone File, the Fighting Tigers just might have a reunion and use me for target practice.
I think the guy is loony, but who knows? Being nuts didn’t keep Liddy out of the Company. Greg Krupey tells me that he’s run into a reference to the “Fighting Tigers.” Supposedly, that is the name of the hit squad that took out Kennedy witnesses after the assassination. Whatever. I’ve spent the advance and I have to do the book. The problem is that Bruce Roberts was paranoid, which caused him to view everything as connected.
Although I’ve not seen his original letters, I’ve heard them described, and they sound disjointed. Caruana compares them to Joyce’s brilliant Finnegan’s Wake. That’s only a shade of difference from calling them crazy, however. In addition to the letters being rambling and manic, they were synopsized for posterity by Stephanie Caruana, and she turned out a Gemstone that is flawed and unsubstantiated, at best.
The odd thing, though, is that I have the suspicion that Gemstone could be true. Roberts may have walked a thin line as he followed the thread of Mafia influence in international politics, but at the same time, it is possible that he knew what was going on in the big conspiratorial picture.
That’s where I stand. In the meantime, as I dicker with Caruana for some Roberts letters and put the final touches on the book, I won’t be (if you’re familiar with the Skeleton Key) eating any apple pie.
Published with the permission of New Saucerian Publishing via Andrew Colvin