by Martin Cannon © 2001

She met her contact in a coffee shop. Throughout the meeting, he shot nervous glances at the other patrons. Was anyone eavesdropping? Her source finally pulled a file from his briefcase. “If anyone asks, you didn’t get this from me,” he warned as he handed her the folder. “Don’t let anyone know you have this. Not even your best friend. Don’t mention it on the phone. The NSA listens to all telephone calls. They zero in on certain keywords. And you can be pretty damn sure that one of those keywords is Gemstone.”

The year was 1990. The woman - a friend of mine - skimmed the folder’s contents, while her contact slurped up black coffee and trembled like a wet whippet. The file contained 24 typewritten pages. The first one grabbed her attention:


May 1, 1975

The Gemstone File was written in many segments over a period of years by an American man named Bruce Roberts. Parts of the file were released to certain Americans beginning in 1969. The number of handwritten pages is well over a thousand, of which I have read about four hundred. I do not have the time or the research facilities to verify the entire story. Perhaps others can help.

Since the scope of the work is so large, and the events described so complex and interlocking, it may be more easily understood with this skeleton outline of the gemstone thesis. Individual papers can then be read with greater comprehension.

1932: Onassis, a Greek drug pusher and ship owner who made his first million selling “Turkish tobacco” (Opium) in Argentina, worked out a profitable deal with Joseph Kennedy, Eugene Meyer, and Meyer Lansky. Onassis was to ship booze directly into Boston for Joseph Kennedy. Also involved was a heroin deal with Franklin and Elliott Roosevelt.

1934: Onassis, Rockefeller and the Seven Sisters (major oil companies) signed an agreement, outlined an oil cartel memo: Beat the Arabs out of their oil, ship it on Onassis’s ships; Rockefeller and the Seven Sisters to get rich. All this was done.

Roberts, studying journalism and physics at the University of Wisconsin learned these things via personal contacts. His special interest was in crystallography - and the creation of synthetic rubies, the original Gemstone experiment.

1936-1940: Eugene Meyer buys the Washington Post, to get our news Media; other Mafia buy other papers, broadcasting, T.V., etc. News censorship of all major news goes into effect.

1941-1945: World War II; very profitable for Onassis, Rockefeller, Kennedys, Roosevelts, I.G. Farben, etc. Onassis selling oil, arms and dope to both sides went through the war without losing a single ship or man...

So the text continued, offering a succinct chronology of the covert schemes that have shaped the world. And Bruce Roberts apparently was thick with these thieves. He was a man who had seen and heard much - and then told, to his peril.

“They killed him back in 1976,” the contact told my friend. “They injected him with cancer, because he knew too much. See, he was this big expert on jewels and stuff. That’s how the file got its name. And he invented this synthetic ruby. They use it for high-powered lasers. The Hughes company stole his idea, and Roberts got really pissed off. That’s when he started talking to all these spooks he knew. That’s when he found out what was really going on. He put together tons of evidence.”

“Where are all those documents?” my friend asked.

“Nobody knows,” the informant answered. “What you see here is just a summary. I heard some reporter has the real thing in storage. If that shit ever gets loose, this whole country’s going to explode.”

My friend glanced ahead to the Skeleton Key’s final paragraphs:


You won’t be reading it in the papers for quite some time. At present the only way to spread this information here in America is hand to hand.

Your help is needed. Please make 1, 5, 10, 100 copies or whatever you can, and give them to friends or politicians, groups, media. This game is nearly up. Either the Mafia goes or AMERICA goes.

My friend didn’t realize it at the time, but she had just received the most infamous samizdat document ever composed in English. Within two years of its original photocopied distribution, “The Skeleton Key to the Gemstone File” became a fixture of American fringe culture. Many acquired the work on a hand-to-hand basis, as my friend had. Versions of it appeared in a number of magazines, including Larry Flynt’s Hustler - indeed, some suspect that partial publication of the Skeleton Key prompted the assassination attempt on Flynt. A comic-strip adaptation appeared. Those 24 photocopied pages became a perennial seller in bookstores servicing the political underground around the world - especially in certain Arab countries. Variant texts appeared, with additions by other writers. An anonymous New Zealand writer produced a lengthy continuation called “The Kiwi Gemstone,” sometimes known as “The Opal File.” The legend of the Gemstone File has spawned at least one popular spy novel and five non-fiction books, the most reverential of which - Gerald Carroll’s Project Seek - was written by a respected journalism professor.

Carroll did indeed seek, but he did not find. He has never read the original documents. Neither have the writers of the other “Gemstone” books.

I have.

Secrecy and shivers

What has attracted thousands of people to the “Skeleton Key to the Gemstone File”?

Religious intolerance certainly plays a part. The work’s sub rosa anti-Semitism has undoubtedly contributed to its popularity in the Middle East, while its overt anti-Catholicism appeals to Protestant fundamentalists and resentful former altar boys. In an odd digression, the Skeleton Key states that the Catholic Church covered up Jesus Christ’s true ethnicity: Arab. During the Council of Nicea, we are told, a bishop “was assigned to round up all the old copies of the Bible and destroy them in favor of the ‘revised’ de-Arabized version.” Beyond that: “Later during the holy crusades the Bible was again rewritten to include Jesus’ warning against the ‘yellow race’” - whatever that may mean. The work also avers, apparently with intent to disparage, that Paul VI (who was Pope in 1975) had a Jewish mother.

Most readers, however, came to the document not for its vague bigotries, but for its professed solution to such mysteries as JFK’s assassination, the death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick, the missing files of J. Edgar Hoover, and the disappearance of Howard Hughes. In the words of British political writer Robin Ramsey: “The conspiratorial nature of its distribution, and the warning printed in the front of it, give it an aura of being ‘the real shit.’”

Many have found the work compelling for its brevity, organization, and scope. Most importantly: The text never argues - it states. Like the Bible, it speaks with the voice of Authority. Jonathan Vankin, author of an overview of conspiracy theories, once admitted that “...the prose style of the Skeleton Key, though not a model for my own, was an inspiration. Terse, Tense. Driven by certitude. I needed to give my readers shivers of sudden access to horrifying secrets...”

Bruce Roberts - whoever the hell he may have been - certainly gave good shiver.

A summary of a summary

What is the view of history presented in “The Skeleton Key to the Gemstone File”?

In brief: A covert cabal, which Bruce Roberts usually calls “The Mafia” (apparently a far more powerful organization than Martin Scorcese ever visualized), runs the entire world, controlling the American defense department, the intelligence agencies, and the Vatican. Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis ran the Mafia, much as Blofeld ran SPECTRE in the James Bond books. The Kennedy family had joined this evil consortium, taking orders directly from its Grecian master.

‘Ari,’ however, faced competition: Aviator/industrialist Howard Hughes, having paid off Vice President Nixon in the 1950s, had carved out a rival empire. Onassis kidnapped Hughes in 1957, with the help of Hughes’ own aides; the scuffle left Hughes “battered and brain-damaged.” He spent the rest of his days on Skorpios, Onassis’ private island. A double assumed the place of “Hughes,” who became a recluse. The handwriting of the real Hughes (who eventually died a heroin addict) was “duplicated by a computer.”

By 1960, Onassis controlled both the Republican and Democratic candidates for president. Following the death of his father, John Kennedy began to act contrary to “Mafia” instructions. His administration even dared to sanction a raid on an anti-Castro hit team assembling in Louisiana - a team owing ultimate allegiance to Onassis. Infuriated by this betrayal, the Hellenic overlord targeted the very president he had placed in office.

Others had to die first. Senator Estes Kefauver, who threatened to expose the whole mess, had an alleged “heart attack” on the Senate floor, after eating apple pie laced with Sodium Morphate. (According to Roberts, this is a common commercial rat poison which Mafiosi have employed for centuries to induce fake cardiac arrests.) A “suicide” was also arranged for Washington Post editor Phil Graham, who favored JFK’s side of the power struggle.

Onassis killed the president, using mob boss Johnny Roselli as his primary triggerman. In a scenario straight out of Robert E. Howard, the slayer took his adversary’s woman into his own harem. Teddy Kennedy, having learned his lesson, swore eternal obedience to the Greek tycoon.

Teddy deliberately and personally murdered Mary Jo Kopechne on Chappaquiddick island to prevent her from revealing what she had uncovered about the family’s Mafia ties. Onassis covered up the homicide. The truth about Chappaquiddick somehow made its way to Eugenie Niarchos, wife of Stavros Niarchos, brother-in-law to Onassis and generally considered his great rival in the shipping business. Stavros, fearful of Onassis’ power, personally killed Eugenie before she could tell what she knew.

Robert Kennedy had tried to tell the truth about his brother’s 1963 assassination in a book called “The Enemy Within,” which Roberts claims was never published. (In fact, it was - in 1960! It deals with the Teamsters union.) When RFK ran for president in 1968, Onassis used a new tactic - a hypno-programmed assassin - to silence yet another former underling grown independent.

Onassis engineered the Vietnam war to secure his oil and heroin interests, then released the fraudulent “Pentagon Papers” to divert attention from the assassination conspiracies. The Chinese government eventually learned the truth about these murders by reading the works of Bruce Roberts, and used the information to blackmail its way into the United Nations. J. Edgar Hoover threatened to expose the JFK and Hughes scandals, having learned the truth from Roberts’ papers; the FBI boss soon fell to Sodium Morphate, and most of his files were burned.

Nearing re-election, President Nixon (having received Bruce Roberts’ paper on the Hughes kidnapping) became concerned about Democratic chairman Larry O’Brien and his possible knowledge of the aforementioned matters. He thus hired a band of Mafia/CIA operatives and formed the “Plumbers” unit, tasked to plug information leaks, conduct break-ins, and covertly attack opponents. In February, 1972, the Plumbers team spied on Roberts in a San Francisco bar, where he spoke at length about the things he knew - including his knowledge of synthetic gemstones. Gordon Liddy, impressed, bestowed the code-name “Gemstone” on his ambitious project to ensure Nixon’s re-election. The bar’s owner tape-recorded the entire dialogue, and sent the evidence to his secret paymaster, Washington Post editor Katherine Graham.

The Plumbers then famously broke into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate hotel, not knowing that San Francisco private detective Hal Lipset, who also worked for Katherine Graham, had learned their plans. Lipset, in disguise, provided the “second piece of tape” which resulted in the capture of the Watergate burglars. Video cameras captured the entire event.

When the scandal broke, Nixon voiced his displeasure with “asshole Roberts.” His comments were excised from the White House tapes - thus explaining the famous 18 ½ minute gap. Detective Lipset also overheard Roberts pass information to the Russian consulate in San Francisco. This information led directly to Nixon’s resignation; had he not stepped down, the impeachment trial would have uncovered the truth about “Hughes” and Onassis.

Meanwhile: The Symbionese Liberation Army, a phony “Marxist” cell, kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst in order to discredit the left. In a similar vein, the Mafia instigated the notorious “Zebra” murder spree both to take out a specific individual and to smear the Nation of Islam. (NOI zealots took the rap for the crimes.) In March, 1975, Aristotle Onassis died. Killings continued as various factions of the Mafia jockeyed for the top spot.

Bruce Roberts, Stephanie Caruana and Mae Brussell

The preceding precis-of-a-precis leaves much out, but gives the basics of the “Gemstone” worldview. The two obvious questions: Where did the text come from, and how much of it is true?

The first answer comes more easily. A writer for Playgirl named Stephanie Caruana (which semi-rhymes with “marijuana”) compiled The Skeleton Key to the Gemstone File, after reading the original letters and interviewing their author.

Bruce Porter Roberts really existed, although we have few independently verifiable facts about him. He was born in New York (circa 1917) and died in San Francisco, on July 30, 1975, reportedly of a brain tumor. A daughter survived him. Author Gerald Carroll discovered a photograph of him affixing costume jewelry to entertainer Carmen Miranda, which goes some ways toward substantiating his claimed interest in synthetic gems. An experiment in his garage caused an explosion which singed off his eyebrows. He spent the years 1969-75 writing lengthy handwritten missives addressed to various newsworthy individuals. On the side, he occasionally worked as a roofer.

How did Caruana first gain access to the Roberts letters? Through a fascinating, frustrating lady named Mae Brussell, the legendary queen of conspiracy research. Brussell created the Gemstone File - literally: She was the one who placed Roberts’ letters into a manila folder and wrote the word “Gemstone” on the tab. (Presumably, Roberts’ interest in jewelry prompted this label.) Since she occupies a central place in our story, a biographical digression is in order.

The daughter of Los Angeles’ famed Rabbi Cyril Magnin, Mae Brussell came within a hair’s breath of attaining a Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford. (A marriage proposal diverted her from her goal.) In 1963, the televised sight of an obviously-beaten Lee Harvey Oswald instantly transformed her into a conspiracy researcher. A subsequent affair with Henry Miller further radicalized her thinking. Unlike most previous conspiracy aficionados, who pursued an anti-Semitic and anti-Communist agenda, Brussell targeted post-War fascism. Her talk of a Nazi revival alienated both traditional leftists - who accused her of over-reacting - and her reactionary opponents. They called her a “kosher truth-butcher,” among other colorful phrases.

Mae Brussell publicized her views in various publications, and in a weekly radio program called Dialogue Conspiracy (renamed WorldWatchers International). The latter part of her 17-year career took place in the tiny studios of Monterey radio station KAZU, located above a pizza joint. Despite this inauspicious home base, she gained followers worldwide; these fans dubbed themselves “Sprouts.” She also gained enemies: On several occasions, death threats and break-ins forced her off the air, particularly after a powerful Los Angeles radio station picked up her program. Shortly afterward, she was diagnosed with a rapid-spreading cancer, which some believe was artificially induced. She died in October, 1988.

Mae Brussell’s atrocious communication skills prevented her from having a greater impact. No-one has ever described her radio performances as professional. Her published articles have little organization, present surmises as facts, and contain silly errors. Like most other conspiracy researchers, she argued beyond the evidence, despised admitting error, and possessed a self-destructive tendency to “spook-bait” anyone who irked her.

Nevertheless, Mae Brussell deserved a more respectful hearing than conspiracy buffs usually receive. Once one got past her gravel-voiced broadcasts and her agonized writing style, one encountered a truly engaged mind, working from a staggeringly wide knowledge base. She had created her own non-electronic internet: Numerous correspondents regularly sent her printed material, necessitating the installation of a mailbox so massive it looked like an import from Brobdinag. As a result, her listeners encountered data nuggets of surprising rarity and value. A sense of social justice motivated her work, differentiating it from the fear-based rants of most conspiracy-mongers. In the light of recent events - such as the rise of the militias, and the popularity of extremist parties in Europe - her warnings of a fascist resurrection now seem visionary.

It is also worth noting that Brussell had what is generally called “a life” - meaning children, family obligations, participation in community events, hobbies, artistic interests, a knowledge of literature, and so forth. She was eccentric, but not alienated. The same cannot be said for most of the lonely outsiders usually attracted to conspiracy-spotting.

I do not know enough about Stephanie Caruana to determine whether she fits the “lonely outsider” profile (although that phrase seems to fit Bruce Roberts well enough). Caruana’s own words best describe her time as a Playgirl journalist:

I was writing articles for Playgirl magazine, primarily about issues of importance to women. I wrote about a new method of early abortion, at a time when abortions were only legal in New York and California, and coat-hanger-back-room-trips-to-Mexico stories were all too common. I wrote about decent nutrition and care for pregnant women as a way to avoid birth defects. I interviewed black poet Maya Angelou, and black feminist activist Flo Kennedy. Playgirl got off to a zooming start, probably due primarily to the male nudes, but I’d like to think that some of my articles on issues important to women helped. (This was at a time when, as now, women’s magazines pretty much stuck to cosmetics, diets, and how to get a better job.)

This admirable career took an odd turn in 1974, when Caruana helped Mae Brussell to write about the Patty Hearst kidnapping, arguing that intelligence agency “plants” manipulated the Symbionese Liberation Army into actions discrediting the left. Their published views prompted SLA leader William Harris to respond with a tape-recorded tirade against “White, sickeningly Liberal, paranoid conspiracy freaks.” But Brussell may deserve more credit than she received at the time, since Harris and his wife did mysteriously brief stints in prison - despite a record of murder, kidnapping, torture and bank robbery.

Playgirl’s editor suggested that the team should next try an article on Howard Hughes. While researching this project at Mae Brussell’s home, Caruana happened upon a cache of letters from the enigmatic Bruce Roberts. A regular Brussell listener, he had, since 1972, been sending the broadcaster his conspiracy-oriented monographs. Brussell had even met with Roberts in San Francisco, later describing him as a “Casper Milquetoast” type. She didn’t encourage her protégé to take the letters too seriously. According to Caruana:

[Mae] “ordered” me to not actually read the letters, but only to skim over them, and only to read what related to Howard Hughes! At midnight, exhausted after a long hard day, I started to read. The first page was chock full of murders, poison, and dirty words. My reaction was: Hey, this guy is a paranoid schizophrenic. I’ve been told all my life about them. In a sense, I had been brainwashed to automatically reject anyone who talked about the things he did, in the ways he did it. I had to pull back and take a look at my reactions, and to decide that I would read the material with an open mind. It all held together - from first to last page.

She eventually broke with Brussell, and visited Roberts. He struck Caruana as a real-life James Bond, living in a world of spies, assassinations and tapped phones - hardly a “Milquetoast” type. Roberts convinced her that he had indeed invented a synthetic ruby used in laser research, and that he often sold artificial gemstones to foreign governments in exchange for secret data. “It was,” Caruana averred, “a worldwide information network on the highest level.”

In short: Caruana became a convert. The Skeleton Key - her concise rendition of the world according to Roberts - was her protestation of faith.

How much of it is true?

All previous attempts to analyze the Gemstone “thesis” (as proponents grandly call it) have presumed that said thesis originated with a credible individual privy to information unavailable to the average person. If Bruce Robert really were a paranoid schizophrenic (as Caruana first suspected), or if he possessed no informants within the intelligence community, what value would anyone place on the claims made in either the Skeleton Key or the sequestered letters which begat it? His would be the story of just another lonely buff who spent his days clipping newspapers and speculating about the tales behind the headlines. Such a buff is entitled to his opinions, of course. But, as the low-yet-apt axiom reminds us, opinions are like assholes: Everybody has one. Roberts, we are told, had something more, something nobody else possessed - secret sources of explosive information.

Did he really?

The proposition becomes difficult to accept after one studies the Skeleton Key critically. The text never presents a single provably true piece of data not otherwise available to the public at the time of writing. Granted, the precis introduced a number of claims which were new (and strikingly odd) in 1975, but these claims arrived unburdened by corroboration or evidence, and they remain so to this day. History has proven no friend to Gemstone.

A quick review of the evidence proves the point:

Aristotle Onassis. The Greek shipping tycoon makes a poor candidate for leading Mafia capo of his era - he wasn’t even Italian! Perhaps Roberts meant “Mafia” in a non-literal sense; even so, the Skeleton Key ascribes far more power to Onassis than does even his most hostile biographer. While it is true that the Greek tycoon’s personal fortune eventually exceeded the yearly income of his homeland’s government, his wealth paled compared to that held by families such as the Rockefellers or the Fords. No hint of his global overlordship has come from any friend, foe or family member - not even from his lover, quintessential diva Maria Callas, the kind of woman who could turn every day into high drama. One can imagine Jackie keeping her mouth shut, but not opera’s most fiery Carmen.

The image of Onassis as the CIA’s hidden puppet-master seems particularly ludicrous in light of the American political establishment’s epic reaction to the “Jiddah Agreement” of 1954, which granted Onassis the right to ship much of Saudi Arabia’s oil. This contract infuriated Aramco, a consortium of American oil interests, which spurred the U.S. government to declare war on the Greek tycoon. FBI head J. Edgar Hoover labeled Onassis “anti-American,” the U.S. government seized his ships, and the Justice Department arrested him on threadbare charges. The CIA entered the battle (despite legal prohibitions) via operative Robert Mayheu, who headed the real-life prototype of TV’s “Mission Impossible” team. Onassis’ rooms were bugged and his phones tapped, newspaper stories smeared his name, an international boycott targeted his firm, ships were sabotaged, his whaling operations were derailed, and nuisance suits racked up massive legal bills. In 1956, Onassis made a shaky peace with his persecutors, although the Saudi contract went to his brother-in-law and rival, Stavros Niarchos, Aramco’s preferred candidate.

Much of the above became public knowledge after the Skeleton Key’s release. At the time Roberts wrote, mystery still surrounded Onassis, who had offended many when he took the martyred President’s widow as an apparent trophy wife. The CIA’s planted stories perfumed his reputation; many believed him capable of anything. Nowadays, those who receive their history from scholars, and not from samizdat, can put his career in perspective.

Howard Hughes. The famously eccentric aviator/film producer/industrialist disappeared from public view in 1957. Many (including Mae Brussell) doubted that he still lived. The wildest theorists, citing photographic “evidence,” claimed that Hughes dropped out of sight in order to take on a new identity - as either CIA chief Richard Helms, or Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini!

We now know much about the 1966-70 period, when Howard Hughes bought up a number of Las Vegas casinos while living atop the Desert Inn. His health and mental stability had deteriorated shockingly - due (depending on which source you consult) to syphillis, pain pills, poor diet, or even, as biographer Charles Higham suggests, an early case of AIDS. Always a key military supplier, Hughes’ business became deeply enmeshed in expensive CIA projects, as the Glomar Explorer episode illustrates. No doubt this relationship explains why none other than Robert Maheu stepped in to function as Hughes’ major domo, displaying Job-like patience as he kept up with the billionaire’s outlandish demands. Michael Drosnin’s Citizen Hughes reprints many of the handwritten notes Hughes sent his “spooky” babysitter. Much of this correspondence is hilarious; not even the cleverest fictionist could have concocted Hughes’ exasperating quest for the perfect television set. Eventually, the two men had an explosive “divorce.” In November of 1970, Hughes - very ill, but increasingly fearful of Nevada’s nuclear tests - moved (or was taken) to the Bahamas, and later to Nicaragua. Maheu became convinced that a private intelligence firm called Intertel had abducted the billionaire. Author Charles Higham argues that Hughes, no matter how debilitated, remained in charge of his affairs.

That kidnapping, if kidnapping it was, took place in 1970, not 1957; Onassis had no involvement. Despite his seclusion, Hughes’ general whereabouts between 1957 and 1976 are known. I know of no handwriting expert who has challenged the many memos to Mayheu. Bruce Roberts’ suggestion - that the industrialist’s handwriting was mimicked by a computer - is simply inane. Such a job cannot be done by today’s computers, and certainly not by those available during Hughes’ lifetime.

Watergate. Could the Skeleton Key be correct when it suggests G. Gordon Liddy decided to use the term “Gemstone” after his team heard Roberts hold court at a San Francisco bar in February of 1972? The chronology works against this idea. Liddy formally presented his “Gemstone” plan to Nixon’s Attorney General in January, 1972; the Plumbers’ chief dirty trickster had formulated the plan roughly a month earlier. No book on the Watergate scandal makes any mention of the Plumbers team travelling en masse to San Francisco at that busy time; their schedules would seem to rule out a cross-country drinking spree. And why would Liddy, who has gleefully admitted criminality, keep secret any bar-room encounters with Roberts? At the risk of getting ahead of the story, I should note that the original Roberts letters from this period do not make notable use of the word “gemstone;” he fixated on that term later, after newspapers revealed Liddy’s plan.

Many have suggested that the Watergate break-in concerned the financial links between Nixon and Hughes, which were well-known at the time. The idea hardly began with Bruce Roberts. And if video cameras captured the Watergate break-in, why on earth would anyone keep this visual record secret?

JFK. The Skeleton Key’s version of the JFK murder is a fantasia on themes familiar from the assassination literature available at the time Roberts wrote. The enigmatic Eugene Hale Brading, fingered by Roberts as one of the shooters, cropped up in many news stories in 1967, when New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison tried to extradite him; a 1973 book by Peter Noyes, Legacy of Doubt, deals with Brading at length. Roberts claims that Mafia capo Johnny Roselli shot Kennedy from the famous grassy knoll, and then disappeared “down a manhole behind the fence.” No such manhole ever existed. Roselli’s involvement with the CIA’s anti-Castro assassination plots was revealed in a March 3, 1967 column by the renown Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson, a column which also makes a garbled argument that Mafia/CIA joint efforts led to Kennedy’s assassination. That famous article could easily have inspired Roberts. The idea of a chieftain like Roselli performing the hit personally seems ludicrous; one can as easily visualize the CEO of Sears making a house call to fix a washing machine.

The Patty Hearst kidnapping and the Zebra Murders. On these two subjects, Roberts reflects the broadcast views of Mae Brussell. Since he was a Brussell listener, we need look no further for the source of his information. Naïve conspiracy buffs tend to believe that a claim has been “verified” when multiple parties (in this case, Brussell and Roberts) say the same thing. But one should never confuse repetition with confirmation. The claimants must be independent.

Sodium Morphate. Roberts makes these four statements about the putative super-poison: 1. It smells like apples. 2. It has been used since the Middle Ages. 3. It does not show up during autopsy. 4. It is a common ingredient in rat poison. He insisted on this last point to Caruana in a face-to-face interview.

In fact, no package of rat poison has ever listed this substance, which remains unmentioned in any book on toxins. To dispatch rats, one generally uses arsenic, strychnine, or warfarin, none of which smells like apples. The term “morphate” implies a morphine derivative, but morphine was impossible to synthesize in medieval times - and it, too, does not smell like apples. Morphine can indeed kill (as Caruana has pointed out), but one would need very large amounts to use it as she and Roberts suggest, since ingestion (as opposed to injection) decimates the drug’s potency. An autopsy would quickly reveal morphine’s presence. While opiates can provide an excellent means of dispatching a known intravenous drug user, anyone “seasoning” an enemy’s supper has a choice of far more efficient toxic substances.

The James Bond connection. Die-hard Gemstone believer David Hatcher Childress makes an entertaining argument that author Ian Fleming, in his James Bond novel Diamonds Are Forever, “confirmed” Bruce Roberts’ Onassis-kidnapped-Hughes scenario. Childress believes that Fleming (who had worked for British intelligence during World War II) based the super-villainous Ernst Stavro Blofeld on Aristotle Onassis. In the film version of Diamonds Are Forever, Blofeld kidnaps a reclusive, Vegas-based billionaire named Willard Whyte, whom even the dimmest viewers will recognize as a countrified version of Hughes. (The film-makers place Whyte atop the now-demolished Landmark Hotel, which Hughes did, in fact, once own.) Childress asks: Did the British writer’s espionage contacts inform him of the 1956 Hughes kidnapping? And did Diamonds Are Forever reveal the truth in a thinly-disguised fiction?

Unfortunately, the “Whyte”/Hughes kidnapping occurs not in Fleming’s novel, but in the substantially different screenplay by Richard Maibaum. Fleming died in 1964. The film appeared in 1971, when much gossip focused on Hughes’ Las Vegas escapades. Maibaum obviously wanted to capitalize on the controversy by working a Hughes-like figure into his script. The chronology suggests that Roberts simply cribbed the idea of a Hughes abduction from the popular movie - a point so obvious, only a buff of Childress’ stripe could miss it.

Did Onassis inspire, at least in part, the creation of Ian Fleming’s immortal Blofeld? Possibly. During the 1954-56 “war” on Onassis, the CIA used every available means to paint the Greek tycoon as a monster, and these tales surely reached Fleming. However, I believe Bond’s creator used the notorious English magician Aleister Crowley (whom he knew personally) as the primary real-life model for his arch-fiend. Crowley, a brilliant man who reeked of vices considered unspeakable, was callous, egomaniacal, oversized, bald, ugly - and yet, despite all, mysteriously attractive to women. All of these descriptions apply to Blofeld. Crowley pretended to titles of nobility that he never actually held, as does Blofeld in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In his WWI-era dealings with both German and British intelligence, Crowley apparently played both sides against the middle, a classic Blofeld maneuver. I sometimes wonder: Had the English mage sought temporal rather than supernatural power, might he have evolved into a true-life version of Bond’s nemesis?

Inside the Brussell archives

Will the foregoing critique end the Gemstone legend? Doubtful. Defenders have argued that Stephanie Caruana created any problems in the Skeleton Key, problems that the original letters would surely resolve. As long as they remained unread, the ur-texts provided the perfect foundation for a conspiracy theory, since invisibility granted them immunity from criticism or counter-argument. They became, in the mind’s eye, anything the reader wanted them to be. For a quarter-century, aficionados have speculated as to their contents, much as New Testament scholars speculate about the long-lost “Q” document - but no-one, outside a handful of people, truly knew.

Until now.

In order to explain how I acquired a copy of the letters, I must first recount some history that may strike many readers as only tangentially related.

Many readers mistakenly refer to Caruana’s Skeleton Key as “The Gemstone File,” despite the fact that Caruana clearly explains, in the first few paragraphs of her work, that she has boiled down the content of roughly 400 handwritten pages, housed within one of Mae Brussell’s file cabinets. Even that number was but part of the whole: According to Caruana, Roberts compiled at least 1000 manuscript pages, outlining his view of the Grand Conspiracy. No-one knows what happened to the other 600-odd pages; someone probably trashed them after the author’s death, although Caruana reportedly holds a tiny sampling. (She has not shared them.) The surviving letters are the 351 pages - the actual number, as it turns out - sent to “Conspiracy Queen” Mae Brussell. These pages constitute the actual Gemstone file.

When Mae Brussell died in 1989, her friends, followers and heirs faced a dilemma: What to do with her research materials? She had amassed over 40 well-stuffed four-drawer file cabinets, along with dozens of large cardboard boxes brimming with correspondence, notebooks, un-filed newsclippings, pamphlets, and monographs - not to mention innumerable magazines representing the entire range of political opinion, from left to right to off-the-map. There was also the not-inconsiderable matter of a specialist’s library compiled by a world-class bibliomaniac. Even her detractors grudgingly admitted that her collection, containing many obscure and unusual items, deserved preservation. Among those rarities, of course, was the original Gemstone File.

Following her death, there was an attempt to create a “Mae Brussell Research Center,” headed by fellow left-wing conspiratologist, John Judge. Alas, this project imploded due to the otiose paranoia of her associates. Detailing those battles here would serve no sensible purpose; suffice it to say that Brussell provided her disciples with both a rudder and an anchor - absent which, the ship carrying her life’s work could only founder.

Brussell’s materials passed into the hands of her long-time friend, mail-order bookseller Tom Davis, of Aptos, California. In 1994, the collection moved to Santa Barbara, California, where Davis tried to establish a “Brussell Library” in the bottom floor of an elegant old office building he had purchased - a building which needed expensive repairs and attracted an insufficient number of paying tenants. Once it fell out of his possession, Brussell’s files and books passed into the care of writer Virginia McCullough. Though McCullough never knew the “Conspiracy Queen” personally, she does similar work on the world wide web, and possesses sufficient storage space. There the collection rests.

I tried to help Tom during the difficult 1994-1995 Santa Barbara period. With his permission, I gained access to the Brussell files, and spent many a night reviewing the work of a woman some hailed as a genius and others derided as a crank. Her “paper trail” revealed many fascinating ideas and ahead-of-her-time insights, liberally sprinkled with shards of crackpottery; it was the million-page autobiography of an exhaustingly original thinker confronting bizarre times. Had we known each other personally, we surely would have fought. I still wish I had known her.

A search for the fabled Roberts letters revealed that the actual Gemstone File no longer rested in the manila folder marked “Gemstone.” The original manuscript pages, handwritten on sheets of varying sizes, have gone missing; Mae Brussell apparently returned them to Bruce Roberts. Before doing so, she had photocopied the lot onto legal-sized sheets, and Tom kept those pages sequestered and safe.

Jim Keith’s popular 1992 compilation volume, which presents the Skeleton Key and various commentaries, created a market for the original letters. Those letters, I suggested to Tom Davis, deserved a public airing, and might translate into a book that could help him financially. They required transcription and editing, of course. Tom seemed of two minds about the proposal - and when he finally produced the fabled Roberts cache, the reason for his hesitation became clear.

I had expected an expansion of the Caruana precis, containing details, organized materials, a discussion of sources, and comprehensible writing. While I always doubted that the letters could offer a persuasive argument that Onassis killed JFK and Howard Hughes, I had hoped that Roberts would, at the very least, present his weltanschauung in a more-or-less lucid fashion, and that he would offer some discussion of his mysterious informants. In short: I hoped for the makings of a publishable book.

Alas, as I flipped through page after page of Roberts’ quirky (but mostly legible) handwriting, certain facts became clear:

1. His alleged sources of “inside” information would remain as nameless as ever. In all likelihood, they never existed. (In one letter, Roberts claims that he sold a synthetic ruby to a foreign country in exchange for the diary of Aristotle Onassis. He never describes this diary, never quotes from it, never reveals its location, never names the country that held it, and never hints at a knowledge of Greek.)

2. Many of the allegations mentioned in the Skeleton Key have no echo in the original letters. The precis presents a more complete conspiracy theory than does the original text!

3. Most importantly, the letters confirm the suspicions of the Skeleton Key’s more level-headed commentators: Bruce Roberts was severely mentally ill. He was not merely neurotic, foolish, wrong-headed, eccentric, fanatical, odd, single-minded, silly, mistaken, paranoid or any of the other adjectives commonly used to describe conspiracy buffs. He was insane.

Not even a whisper of proof backs his many grand claims about himself. There is no evidence that he personally determined the course of elections, that his writings paved the way for Chinese entry into the U.N., and that the Hughes corporation stole his method of creating synthetic rubies. Anyone familiar with the writings produced by schizophrenics will immediately recognize Bruce Roberts’ repetitive, shapeless “brain-dump” literary style. (Excerpts from his letters, below, demonstrate his delusional state.)

After I finished reading, disappointment set in. Obviously, Roberts’ mad missives could do nothing to help Tom Davis’ cash crunch. Not even the tiniest publishers would touch this material - and even if such a book somehow hit print, word-of-mouth would kill sales.

In the end, one can only laugh at the absurdity of it all, the way Walter Houston laughed at the close of Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The Gemstone “thesis” had circled the globe. For many people, it had become an article of faith. The hidden oeuvre of Bruce Roberts provided that faith with its foundation. And his logos now stood revealed as the howling of a lunatic.

If we knew the true origins of our major religions, would we find similar secrets? Probably.


Questions remained. First and foremost: Why did the Skeleton Key make a number of claims not appearing in the original letters? Why does the summary represent an expansion - not a contraction - of Roberts’ conspiracy theories?

A couple of years after I acquired the “real” Gemstone File, I wrote to Stephanie Caruana. She now heads a society devoted to proving that Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, authored the plays attributed to Shakespeare, a position which gained semi-respectability after Sir John Gielgud adopted it. (With all due respect to the late Sir John, I’ve read the pro-Oxford arguments, and remain a Stratfordian.) Naturally, she asked for proof that I possessed a copy of the true Roberts letters; a detailed description soon convinced her. Our brief e-mail correspondence quickly turned acrimonious when she heard my plans to tell the truth about her hero’s mental state. But before breaking off communication in a snooty harrumph, she confided that much of the information in the Skeleton Key derived from her conversations with Roberts, not from his writings. That explained much.

Mae Brussell publicly expressed antipathy for the Skeleton Key, yet she never described for her audience the unmistakable odor of psychosis scenting Roberts’ letters. Why didn’t she? Perhaps out of embarrassment: For a brief period, she took a few of his ideas at least semi-seriously. She also considered selling the letters; insulting the wares didn’t serve her interest. But the deeper answer probably concerns her own reputation as the “Conspiracy Queen.” Anyone who seriously considers notions outside the political consensus inevitably has his or her sanity questioned, often quite unfairly. One can easily understand why Mae hesitated to label another theorist crazy, even one who clearly deserved the charge.

I don’t think Mae Brussell was a nut, but she wasn’t always wise. She disallowed copying or distributing the letters in her possession because she had formed a poor opinion of Roberts and hoped to discourage interest in his work. This strategy backfired. The legend of the hidden cache only made the Gemstone mythos more intriguing.

This situation brings to mind an amusing - and instructive - scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. The title character, fleeing pursuers in old Jerusalem, poses as a street preacher. He tries to speak his mind rationally and clearly, only to have the audience heckle him. The pursuers vanish. Brian, now safe, suddenly breaks off in mid-sentence and walks away. Instantly, the crowd becomes fascinated: What the hell was he going to say? They follow him, desperate for more words, trying to piece together his message from the few clues available. Brian discourages further questioning; naturally, his silence only transforms his followers into fanatics. Thus is born a myth: Mystery, not knowledge, creates faith.

Can the Gemstone myth survive the end of the mystery? Probably not. Then again, one should never underestimate the human capacity for rationalization.

Bruce Roberts vs. MMORDIS

If the excerpts below seem tediously extensive, I apologize - but many people have waited decades to see the true Gemstone File, and they deserve some satisfaction. Despite the length of these extracts, certain die-hard conspiracists will no doubt accuse me of quoting selectively in order to make Roberts look bad. The only way to silence those claims is to make the entire file available -- as it soon shall be. While Roberts manages to write semi-reasonably (albeit vaguely) for the first twenty-or-so pages of the Gemstone File, the veneer of rationality soon flakes away - with results that you can judge for yourself. The quotes below are representative.

Our first example comes from a letter written to Ralph Nader. (If a copy of this missive ever reached its intended recipient, Nader surely trashed it long ago.) Throughout his one-way correspondence with the famed consumer advocate, Bruce Roberts alternates between asking Nader for help and accusing him of being part of the Mafia. Since this is an early letter, the wording is fairly comprehensible - at first:

I sent a proposition to Teddy. To stand up in the Senate and let it all hang out. Congressional immunity. Unravel himself like a ball of string and expose for the naked Mafia shit that he is. Take the rest of the Mafia and cancer with him. A truly American service. As his Mafia brother stated (as his the Pope leaped into the “Holy Crusade” of Vietnam) -- “Ask not what your country can do for you - but what you can do for your country.” Were Teddy to perform such a thing, it wouldn’t help him much. No portion of manhood can ever be attributed to cancer. But - if we survive as a result of that action, maybe in a few centuries people would stop spitting in the general direction of his cross - where he would be - along with the Pope, Onassis, and a lot of treasonous, murderous, cancerous, bribing public officials and back room Mafia - all branches. This Mafia “congressional immunity” has little meaning to the man who’s been hanging on the cross for 2000 years - nor does the Mafia “statute of limitations” on crime. He wants off the cross and out from under the cover-up. So does Mary Jo. These are the actions of anti-matter.

Apparently, Teddy won’t do it. Cancer espouses the perpetuation of cancer. It will never expose itself. Well, will you, Nader? Anti-matter. When anti-matter collides with matter - Zilch. It’s here and it’s waiting.

There follows a paragraph in which Roberts discusses his ancestry: “I was born Welsh, Scottish and Irish, apparently in equal thirds.” Then he gets back on the Mafia trail:

I elected Nixon - and the Mafia - not Nixon and Mitchell - the Mafia put an unlimited price tag on the murder of me and my family and my friends - then supposed to be a Yablonski-type wipe out - and since changed to a CIA type slow-torture die on the vine type of thing. They know how to hurt allright. I watch my mother and father rot daily - in total torture. Yes they know how to hurt. And so do I. Hoover’s Catholic boys have been plugging for the 3 secrets of Fatima. Fatima 1 -- War II - was rigged by Roosevelt. Fatima 2 -- conversion of the entire world to Vatican rule - has long been in progress. The Mafia is the handmaiden in this - just as it was for any Political-Religious “Holy Crusade” since Constantine. Legal secrecy and Vatican confessionals to cover it all. Vietnam is a current example of number 2 -- and the 7 So. American countries the CIA and the Vatican have anointed they will overthrow - working together.

A short while later:

There just isn’t any doctor to cut this cancer out. So - take me, for instance. I’m dead. I get the message occasionally. And I - like Brezhnev, like Mao - am aware of the power and malignancy of this monstrous group that rests on the grave of Mary Jo, Christ - and a host. They murder and loot at whim - for personal gain, revenge, or pleasure - whatever - with immunity. So, I look to the future. Mine happens to be eternity. So I want the no. 2 job there - in charge of personnel placement. The man on the cross is a friend of mine. He wants off. Mary Jo is a friend of mine. She wants out of her grave for a nose patch job. No lady wants to go to her own funeral without her purse - or a properly straightened nose. What I must do is what every doctor takes an oath to do. Kill cancer - one of Christ’s covered-up commandments. Primarily because this group desires to kill me. And that is self-defense - and it is the primary law of the world. And I have arranged for such a thing to occur - dead or alive. Remember -- 80% cancer, the patient is dead anyhow. I know exactly how to cut that cancer out - leaving the patient mighty sick - but alive. But, the tools? Who’s gonna give me a scalpel? Nixon? I elected him and he said: “Fuck you. I’m gonna murder you - and your family.” Nader? I set him up in business and he said “Fuck you - now I can be President.” Teddy? “I wanna be President.” No - cancer won’t furnish the tools to kill itself with. So I use what I happen to have - a bloody fucking meat axe.

A few comments on the foregoing:

1. Many books discuss the three secrets of Fatima, which have nothing to do with the claims made above.

2. Judging from references in other letters, Roberts’ father suffered from cancer. Bruce Roberts himself died in 1976 of a tumor. These facts explain why he fixates on the word “cancer.” If, as Caruana reports, his tumor was in the brain, much else is explained as well.

3. Throughout the file, the writer frequently claims that the election of Richard Nixon resulted from certain actions Roberts took following a 1968 hit-and-run accident in San Francisco. This same accident, we are told, also led to the tragic death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick. Alas, the writer fails to clarify exactly how these events link together.

Neither does he help us comprehend why Nixon supposedly complained about “that asshole Roberts” during the infamous 18 ½ minute gap in a key Watergate tape. Nor does Roberts ever explain his claims of personal responsibility for Watergate, the Nixon resignation, and General Motors’ settlement offer to Ralph Nader (which ended the consumer advocate’s famed class action lawsuit).

In various letters, Roberts asserts that his ruby-making abilities give him an unlimited source of wealth. He recounts one instance when he offered one such jewel to a buyer representing a Third World government. The buyer allegedly responded: “You ask for $1,000 for your stone. We feel its true value is $3,500 American dollars. How would you like payment?” Roberts later claims that he sold this same country “a piece of gravel that I picked up in front of Alioto’s City Hall for $2,500. I shipped it wrapped in a few sheets of whys.” (The term “whys” apparently refers to Roberts’ rambling screeds, which he believed foreign governments desperately wanted to read. For some reason, his mad mind always linked the concepts of selling his letters and selling physical gemstones.)

And yet, despite these enviable international transactions, and despite his alchemical abilities, we read the following:

Legally, I live with my parents - an elderly couple who also respect you [Nader] -- at [address given]. Actually I spend nearly all of my time in an apartment downtown - and answer the phone only when mother calls. (It’s my way of getting some work done.)

I cannot leave San Francisco, because of what is happening, and what will happen soon.

For your sake, you should read a copy of this entire affair. You can read it at my mother’s...

In a subsequent letter, Roberts (then in his 50s) dickers with Mom over the electric bill. You may have thought that a man who could make his own rubies would live in higher style. Now you know better.

The selections presented so far show Roberts on his best behavior. Eventually, he reaches fever pitch. This passage, chosen at random, comes from a letter to his mother:

As with Mary Jo - at any time - this can be you, your family, your town, And - via a defensive switch - your country - the U.S. of Mafia. Who’s to censor it? J. Mafia Hoover’s FBI? Mafia ITT? McCone’s CIA? President Chappaquiddick-Onassis-Hughes Dick? Next president Chappaquiddick Onassis-Hughes Teddy? Any Mafia court? Any Mafia attorney? Any Media Mafia? Who? Mafia Alioto’s cops? Mary Jo’s Necrophiliac Mafia Montini in Rome? Necro Nader? Chappaquiddick Dickie’s handmaiden Graham? 33rd Degree Masons and Papal Knights - a la Alioto’s Swig? J. Mafia Hoover’s Ex-FBI agent group, featuring Maheu, the assassin at Dallas, Memphis & L.A.?

Page 187 constitutes the masterpiece of the Gemstone File. Words cannot adequately describe its unsettling aura of psychopathology. Much of the page features a photocopied portrait shot of Joan Kennedy (at the time, Senator Edward Kennedy’s wife), as originally printed in Good Housekeeping. Above it, Roberts reproduces the magazine’s masthead, then pens in the following indicia: “PUBLISHED BY HEARST CORP. WE SQUAT ON BUSTED NOSE MARY JO’S U.S. GRAVE.” A crudely-drawn word balloon makes Mrs. Kennedy announce, in massive letters: “WE ATE MARY JO’S LIVER!” This announcement is followed by smaller lettering: “Teddy and me and the U.S. of Mafia.”

Roberts surrounds his memorable graphic with a great deal of tiny handwritten marginalia. The words scroll across the page both vertically and horizontally. Anyone who has ever studied the unusual messages printed on bottles of Dr. Bronner’s soap will experience déjà vu upon seeing this page of the File. But even Dr. Bronner’s essays sound more rational than the following aria - which, apparently, is meant to represent the thoughts of Joan Kennedy:

“Hearst (Kennedy blood pact -- 1934) printed images of Rosie, Jackie, and me (Madonna-style look). Hearst printed the Carfarkis’ Onassis story in order to establish JFK’s angry phone call to Jackie (“Get off Onassis’ yacht, on the planned double. Diem - JFK murder day - Nov. 1, 1963 -- as a “polite letter.” Onassis ate the livers of Hampton and Clark - in Chicago - after Chappaquiddick - because they knew of the aborted JFK Chicago murder. I love Hearst. Cafarkis - Onassis’ former bus boy - is now a millionaire - hotels on the Riviera. I love Cafarkis. And liver.”

“Mary Jo’s intestines were chopped into hors d’ouerves - wafers for brave, free Americans who support us and will vote me queen. Courtesy of Ma and Pa Kopechne, who clutch Cushing’s crosses saying “We don’t care if it was murder. We are satisfied.” On to Fatima 3 -- blowoff of other heathens who eat the livers of their victims. Convert them to our way - or kill them.”

From this point forward, Roberts - whether speaking as “Joan” or in his own voice - seizes upon the “liver-eating” leitmotif with all the zeal of Dr. Lecter:

I write this from my psychiatrist’s couch. Regardless of what Hearst prints - here we let it all hang out. These are notes to my psychiatrist who is out of the room at the moment. Onassis tells me I can eat Hearst’s liver when all this blows over - and my psychiatrist’s. “No witnesses,” says he. Onassis says my college roommate, Joan Tunney, gets out of her English nut house soon and that she enjoyed eating her husband’s liver after she chopped his head off. Onassis says she gets to eat the livers of everybody at the nut house. “No witnesses” again, in case they heard her speak of John Tunney’s first Chappaquiddick phone call from her home outside San Francisco. (In S.F., Alioto made Police Chief Cahill a security guard at the phone company to sit on those phone call records. Back east, Publisher Loeb got Hoffa out of the clink by promising Nixon to burn all his card copies of the Chappaquiddick calls). During the middle of his Mafia trial, Alioto shocked the jury by eating barbecued girl liver - Newsom’s nieces, Pelosi’s daughters - plus a roasted Japanese liver, the nurse.

And you thought that scene in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life was just a joke! Later, in the same corpulent paragraph, we find this:

Onassis, of course, ate the livers of JFK, Diem, and Nhu. (Captain Nung did it for Onassis on Diem and Nhu at a Cholon railroad crossing. Nung is now big with Thieu, and Thieu is big with Montini, Onassis and Dickie - and that’s as big as you can get. Where can you go after the top of the Vatican and the top of the Mafia? Working together? Well, where? The man on the cross? -- 2000 years ago the Romans pinned him on a cross - speared him in the liver, and pulled on it and ate that. Tacitus sneaked records of the action out of Rome in 64 A.D., and Nero burned the town. They burned His 11th Commandment - “murderers on the cross, not me” - retained His skinny skewered body as a symbol of submission - and today you can get a symbolic bit of Christ’s liver in any church.

Later still, the undying paragraph offers this noteworthy sentence:

Onassis was gonna give some of JFK’s liver to his Turk blackmail friend, Mustapha, when he walked down the gangplanks in Turkey with JFK’s wife, Jackie, my sister-in-law, on his arm - just after JFK’s call to Jackie, “Get off that yacht if you have to swim.” - but frightened Jack John cancelled his Chicago Stadium speech that day - Nov. 1, 1963 -- and Onassis didn’t get JFK’s liver until 3 weeks later at Dallas, via Maheu (who was still smarting from his earlier failure to assassinate Castro for the CIA Onassis branch) -- and he was so hungry he ate the whole thing.

No doubt he did so with fava beans and a nice Chianti.

Believe it or not, the above-quoted paragraph goes on for another two pages. History does not record Ralph Nader’s reaction. When the mighty screed finally ends, Roberts takes us on an even stranger interlude:

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is all Joanie gave us on that date. However, we had a spy hiding behind a moosehead and he tells us that the psychiatrist came back into the room and Joanie handed him the notes quoted above and the psychiatrist read them and then Joanie said, “My problem is that the constitution says murder and treason and bribery are hanging offenses and yet we do these things daily and fuck dead people and eat liver and we get elected queen. I’ve learned to love liver and Teddy says he can live with it - meaning being president - and - what is that you’re eating doctor? It looks a lot like 2000 year old liver -- 1972 years to be exact, and well-aged, and marinated, and tenderized by a spear hole. Is that - the real thing? Lover!” and she leaped from the couch, drooling, and they embraced in a frenzy, chewing their way, opposite sides of the most prized of all livers, toward ecstasy. We, as impartial observers, do not feel that we should report the private actions of consenting adults in the privacy of their own offices and so our observer behind the Moosehead withdrew - at that moment. We do know that they did not eat each other, like Pyrrahna fish, because we saw Joanie later and she gave us a copy of all those letters, documents and volumes that Roberts sent to Teddy. Buy our next edition.

OBSERVER BEHIND THE MOOSEHEAD’S NOTE: We do not consider the actions of consenting adults in public to be subject to invasion of privacy - in the case of the necrophiliac fucking of Mary Jo on her Pennsylvania grave. An entire nation is there - drooling and fucking - Presidents and Priests, Senators and Judges - everybody, including Ma and Pa Kopechne. Hearst is out there now. And if I don’t hurry the crowd will be so huge I’ll have to stand at the Pennsylvania border and hump whoever is in front of me. And, with my luck, that would be Onassis.

JANITOR’S NOTE: Hearst and Moosehead rushed out of here drooling - on their way to fuck some Pennsylvania grave dirt - and forgot these papers. And I have something to add. I’m 98 years old and sweep up around here and flush shit. My greatest thrill is going to the bathroom. The relief...[End of page; next page missing]

Next, the Gemstone File gives us a Roberts-eye view of familiar assassination lore. We are told that Sirhan was hypnotized, as was Arthur Bremer, the man who attempted to kill George Wallace. These passages will probably spur some conspiracy buffs to argue that Roberts must have had inside information about MKULTRA, the CIA mind control program, which was not revealed publicly until after his death. In fact, he could have lifted the notion of a hypnotized assassin from any number of sources, such as Richard Condon’s famous novel The Manchurian Candidate; there was also much talk of hypnosis during Sirhan’s trial.

As for JFK: According to the File (but not the Skeleton Key!) Robert Mayheu - the CIA veteran who, as we have already noted, became Howard Hughes’ major domo - fired the fatal shot from the overpass, apparently unseen by the many others who stood there. Perhaps those witnesses found themselves on the menu. According to Roberts: “Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren ate the livers - for Onassis - of all those who were murdered over Dallas...” Oddly, the Skeleton Key does not name Maheu as the shooter. In Caruana’s text, the triggermen are mob boss Johnny Roselli, Jimmy “the weasel” Fratianno, mysterious con-artist Eugene Hale Brading - and Lee Harvey Oswald, who aimed at Texas Governor John Connally. Perhaps Stephanie Caruana can explain this discrepancy between the original letters and her summary. I doubt that she or anyone else could explain why a capo like Roselli would do his own “wet work.”

Eventually, the Moose returns for further commentary:

CIA MOOSEHEAD OBSERVER’S - JUST RETURNED FROM THE GRAVE-FUCKING NOTE: “Hearst, I quit. By the time you read this I will be at the South Pole, burrowing deep down with the Penguins. Us Penguins hate you Necrophiliac Murdering Treasonous Mafia bastards. May that radioactive cloud never reach that far south. Us Penguins never hurt nobody.”


Exit the Moose, disguised as a penguin. Sadly, he makes no further appearances on the Gemstone stage. (Although I’m told he has a cameo appearance during the opening credits of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There is something eerie about the way Roberts anticipates so many of their best-loved routines...)

Bruce Roberts was not afraid to name names, especially the name of the “cancerous” organization he fought. Usually, he referred to it as “The Mafia” - although that word apparently meant something different to him than it did to, say, Mario Puzo. Schizophrenics often communicate in cryptic metaphors and symbolic language; thus, Roberts uses “Mafia” as a generic term for “the bad guys,” while “liver-eating” presumably means “murder.”

However, he does occasionally employ a more specific label for The Enemy. He begins one of the earlier letters (dated Feb. 4, 1972) by announcing proof of a conspiracy to destroy the United States “by the group known as Mmordis.” Deeper in the File, there are further references to this organization. Roberts makes clear that this name is not just his own slang term for his opponents; “MMORDIS” is what the conspirators call themselves. From page 156:

“The Enemy Within” - by Bobby - suppressed. Onassis bought it, blocked it, buried it. The title was taken from the “treason” definition. Too dangerous.

“The Enemy Within and Without” - amplified and described herein. Given a tag - MMORDIS. Individual crimes and wholesale crimes documented and detailed. The cause of war. The cause of crime. Proven.

Finally, on page 196, we learn what the acronym MMORDIS stands for:

There’s a deadly disease running around: It’s called MMORDIS - Mouldering Mass Of Rotten Dribbling Infectious Shit. Have a happy day.

I have yet to determine whether MMORDIS, like the Trilateral Comission, has a street address and a receptionist. (“Hello, this is Mouldering Mass Of Rotten Dribbling Infectious Shit. How may I direct your call?”) As of this writing, they don’t have a web page.

To round out our survey, here are a couple of excerpts. The first, chosen entirely at random, comes from page 300:

At the bottom - asshole end - the movement is quiet - like practice runs in Cambodia - criminal heads - and liver. And Japanese travel groups. And South American groups. African.

Said McGovern - re the Kennedy-Eagleton squabble - “I don’t know how much more our system can stand.”

It’s simple. The answer is Chappaquiddick. The world wants that. The law: “Anyone who dead-fucks on Mary-Jo’s grave - and all that lies buried there - will hang.”

A part of the fallout from Option 3. And what others are doing. And - in no way related to what one man has arranged. Option four is underway. Join me at a birthday party at Cypresstown - where I shall present mobile strings to my father - On August 3, 1972 -- half-way between the dead-fuck of Mary Jo at Miami - and the upcoming gala - a gang bang on Christ. The Mafia can not murder the dead. But the dead will murder them. This is known as equal justice for all.

The following is from one of the last pages in the Gemstone File:

Hierarchy of shit - sustained by a society of shit. Sucking on Onassis’ heroin chancered thing, sitting on Montini’s “Holy Crusade - brave, free, Americans eating Grecian and Roman shit for desert. Melting Pot? Yes indeed. Rejects from every corner of the world - too rotten to correct the shit in their own native area - run to America - the U.S. of Mafia - and from that gutless breed comes the creeping crawling cancer that today composes a necrophiliac nation dead-fucking on Mary Jo’s grave - now escalated to the horror of a 1972 “free” election between Onassis-Montini-
Kennedy-Chappaquiddick-“Hughes”-Teddy McGovern - and Onassis-Montini-
Chappaquiddick- “Hughes”-Dickie - in a joint Hand-Maiden-Vatican, Mafia-Mafia election process. All of them running now - from these papers. Double cross, triple cross - anything to continue the run toward other crosses that wait - empty. Gang-bang on Christ vs. Universal Fuck of God.

There may be some highly illuminated conspiracy aficionados who will find the above passages perfectly comprehensible. They are the lucky ones.

One such aficionado, apparently, was Stephanie Caruana. In all likelihood, she now considers me an agent of the Great Conspiracy - or, as Bruce Roberts might have put it, “a necrophiliac cancerous liver-eating Mafioso from MMORDIS.” Even so, I can’t help feeling sorry for her. She has devoted much of her life to championing her two heroes: Bruce Roberts and Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. Alas, the world will now know the truth about Roberts - a truth which Caruana should have seen back in 1975, before she foisted her “Skeleton Key” on a public capable of an almost transcendental gullibility (to borrow writer Jim Hougan’s delightful phrase).

Her “Skeleton Key” stands revealed as a hoax, since it never mentions Mmordis, mooseheads, nonstop liver luncheons, Bruce Robert’s claims of personal responsibility for Chappaquiddick and Nixon’s election, and a myriad cognate inanities. In short, Caruana deliberately and disingenuously covered up much of the madness at the heart of the File. Throughout the past quarter-century, she has refused to publish the few pages of Roberts’ writings still in her possession. Now we know why: Like other schizophrenics, he wrote in an impenetrable stream-of-consciousness style best described as “word salad.”

Nevertheless, Caruana remains loyal to the legend she created, and even plans to publish a book furthering the cause of her beloved madman. I don’t know whether she is driven by fanaticism, a desire for fame, simple stupidity, or a crippling inability to admit that she was fooled by a fruitcake. Perhaps some combination of all those factors plays a part. Whatever her motives, her continuing insistence on marketing this myth crosses the line separating gullibility from culpability.

The actual words of Bruce Roberts - an alcoholic with a brain tumor and hallucinations of importance - should now cause all Gemstone aficionados a great deal of embarrassment. But I doubt that Stephanie Caruana is capable of feeling embarrassed. True zealots rarely are.

Poor Stephanie. Maybe the Oxford business will work out better for her.