San Francisco Examiner - October 6, 1988
can rest easier
by Warren Hinckle
Mae Brussell died this week. The question is, who killed her?
Mae was the grandest conspiracy theorist of them all, the Madame Defarge of paranoia. Her last passion before she slipped through the narrow door was investigating satanic cults in the military.
She found conspiratorial links in events large and small, from the Kennedy assassinations to Watergate to contragate, and anytime anyone of note died, she was at the ready with a fascinating theory of why the death fit The Pattern.
Not one of her many friends, which included this writer, would doubt she would come up with a compelling conspiracy theory of her own death at a vibrant 66. Among the many enemies she was constantly exposing on her weekly radio show that was gospel to conspiracy buffs were Nazi scientists in the U.S., the Mafia, the CIA and the oil cartels -- and that's a mean lot of enemies. The doctors say she died of cancer, but that was what they said about Jack Ruby, and Mae knew better than that. "Mae was multimotivated," her old friend, publisher and co-conspiratorialist Paul Krassner said, admiringly, "but her speciality was Lee Harvey Oswald."
Mae was a complacent Carmel housewife raising a bunch of kids until the John F. Kennedy assassination. The horror of having her kids watch Jack Ruby bump off Lee Harvey Oswald right on daytime TV in what was obviously a set piece of work made her a conspiratorial crusader. If at times Mae was short on theory, she was always long on facts -- at the time of her death Monday she had amassed more than 80,000 pages of research material amassed from a compulsive clipping of 15 newspapers a day and a couple of hundred mags a month. She was the first researcher to come up with the facts of Richard Nixon's career links -- unquestionably earlier, more speculatively later -- to the mob.
Krassner said Mae had called him up after he published a famously crude piece of faction in The Realist about an alleged act of neckrophilia between Lyndon Johnson and the corpse of John Kennedy aboard Air Force One returning from Dallas to Washington, D.C., on Nov. 22, 1963, and told him things even he hadn't imagined about the Kennedy assassination.
Mae remained in the pack of Kennedy assassination researchers but came into her own with Watergate. "Three weeks after Watergate, when the press was still treating it like a third-rate burglary, Mae sent me a piece that had the goods on the entire cast of characters -- Hunt, McCord, Martinez and the rest -- and linking them back to CIA-Mafia ties to the Kennedy assassination," Krassner said.
The main Brussell thesis, if I dare risk commit the sin of summary on her complex work, was that an ex-Nazi scientist-Old Boy OSS clique in the CIA using Mafia hit men changed the course of American history this past quarter-century by bumping off one and all, high and low, who became an irritant to them. She believed the Manson family was set up by counterintelligence types to blacken the image of anti-war-music-and-youth longhairs who were becoming a threat to the dominant culture and that Jonestown was a medical and mind-control experiment in getting rid of undesirables.
Mae never had a theory she couldn't back up with a bewildering mass of news clippings and assorted facts. The question that must in all respect and sobriety be asked about Mae Brussell is the one Tom Wolfe asked about Marshall McLuhan: "Whaaaaat if she was right?"
"Way back then in the '60s, way back before Watergate even happened, Mae told me that all the crazy and violent things going on in the country were part of a plan to get Ronald Reagan in office," said Krassner.