I Have Seen The Future: A Quick Synopsis

I Have Seen The Future

I Have Seen the Future:

Lucy Apel, the 1939 World’s Fair, and the Future

I was asked in a recent interview what the future would be like. I said that we could go one of two ways like Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken. The poignant thought about I Have Seen the Future is that we get to contrast a horrific future with the optimism of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. I Have Seen The Future is the theme of the fair.

What is this disastrous future? Yikes….Mind you its only one pathway. First of all, we have a moral man living in amoral world. Andy Reese an exo-astonomer. He searches the universe for earth-like worlds in high def I might add

In control of everything is the artificial intelligence evolved from the present day AI, called the Seraph, who operate from within what used to be the internet.

Andy calls them the monkeys.  Andy is suspended by the monkeys in midair for months as a punishment. When he is finally released and Back at work he is contacted from the future I might add  by the last vestige of mankind on Ganymede. They want to send him back to a pivotal moment in time where a reckless road of science into the future can be averted. Remember there’s only about a dozen hu-mans left….

You can see by now minus the action and suspense that Andy is sent to Iowa 1939 at first. But here’s the catch:  the Monkeys follow him back in time. And he meets the precocious young woman Lucy Apel who wins an essay contest to go the World’s Fair. Andy will also be looking for a Dr. Herman Geiger, the man of worldwide renown  who can change the reckless scientific future. . Lucy is familiar with Geiger’s philosophy and has corresponded with him. Geiger will be at the fair. All the while the monkeys are after Andy and anyone around him.

Being at the 1939 New York World’s Fair even for a writer is absolutely awesome. Researching and viewing movies and images bring it all to life or as Walter Cronkite used to say in his TV show: YOU ARE  THERE. The book is worth it just for the trip through the fair but remember the monkeys are  there too.

I won’t say how the book ends and what happens over the next thirty  years from 1939. Lucy is a genius and the focal point in time along with Geiger. The book can be summed up by Geiger’s philosophy in one German word Nachdanken: Think.

I Have Seen the Future

I Have Seen the Future (1939)


Framed: A Quick Synopsis


Ambition, lust, murder, and arrogance. Loser Gordon Butts, recently fired at a dead-end job, happens upon a new job opportunity, where he cons his way through an interview with the company president, Walter Thornton. Butts claws his way to the top, removing all obstacles in his path. But ambition, lust, murder, and arrogance all have a stated price. Butts’s outlandish and reckless behavior demands eternal justice. And justice is most assuredly served!


Return to Dallas: A Quick Synopsis

Return to Dallas

In the photo above we see President Kennedy next to his wife Jackie  on Elms Street, Dallas Texas just microseconds before he was shot.

The Vietnam War
John F. Kennedy Grave

The Kennedy  Assassination is a transcendental  event in American history. With Kennedy gone in 1963, power was consolidated and we went to war in Vietnam.

Return to Dallas is a unique novel. Patch Kincaid follows the long road to Dallas and witnesses the final moments of President Kennedy’s life in detail.

Why oh why would I place 873 sourced footnotes into a narrative? Because Ladies and Gentlemen stories of the Kennedy Assassination are filled with falsehoods, wild accusations, disinformation, and theories engineered by those with special interests.

However, using sixty years of research I think I can present a picture of what was happening around President Kennedy and those who plotted against him. The people who orchestrated this huge operation to set up Oswald, assassinate JFK, and cover it up were experts in overturning governments.

You’re not going to find Fitton’s theory of this or Fitton’s theory of that. What you will see through the eyes of Patch Kincaid is my best judgement utilizing the persistent research of the past sixty years.

Don’t run away because I use science fiction to slow things down and move things about to get a clearer view of what happened.  I remember how Rod Serling used to metaphorically use science fiction to illustrate controversial subjects as to not rattle the sponsors of the Twilight Zone. I have no sponsors but that technique sharpens the lens, especially in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963

The coverup is still going on despite the abundance of documents and dead bodies. But the researchers are competent, persistent, and tenacious. And finding the truth won’t leave a stain on America. Indeed, it will cleanse America.

Return to Dallas is available on Amazon in paperback and kindle, and audio can be found at audible.com


Time Out: LBJ Press Conference November 17, 1967

November 17, 1967

LBJ: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, I will be glad to take your questions.

REPORTER: Do you think that at this point our force levels in Vietnam will begin to level off in authorized strength, or do you think more troops may be needed in the future?

LBJ: We have previously considered and approved the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the force level. General Westmoreland discussed this at some length with me last night and this morning. He anticipates no increase in that level.

REPORTER: Mr. President, we are getting close to the end of your 4th year in office. You have been subjected to a great deal of personal criticism, ranging from a Senator in your own party planning to run—

LBJ: I am generally familiar with that.

REPORTER: –to the preacher in Williamsburg. I wonder how you appraise this personally.

LBJ: It is not a surprise. I am aware that this has happened to the 35 Presidents who preceded me. No public official, certainly not one who has been in public life 35 years as I have been, would fail to expect criticism. There is a different type of criticism. There is a difference between constructive dissent and storm trooper bullying, howling, and taking the law into your own hands.

I think that the President must expect that those in the other party will frequently find it necessary to find fault and to complain-to attempt to picture to the people that the President should be replaced.

It is also true in all parties that there are divisions. We don’t all think alike. If we did, one man would be doing all the thinking. So you have divisions in parties. We have perhaps more than our share sometimes. But I am sure the Republicans think that, too.

When you get into a political year, with the help and advice and the abetting that the press can do, and the assistance that the opposing party can do–because it is to their interest to try to destroy you in order to have a place for themselves–and you take the divisions in your own party, and they concentrate, then it does seem to mount up and at times occupy a great deal of public attention.

But I don’t think it is unusual for a President to be criticized. That seems to be one of the things that goes with the job. Not many of us want to say, “I failed,” or “I made a mistake,” or “We shouldn’t have done that,” or “This shouldn’t have happened.”

It is always easier to say that someone over there is wrong. The President is more or less a lightning rod. At least I have seen that in this country. I remember, to take one or two illustrations, when President Truman very courageously and, I think, very wisely went into Korea. One of our pollsters dashed out with a poll–Dr. Gallup–and found that that position was approved by about 81 percent. Six months later, when the sacrifices were evident and the problems began to appear, the same pollster, talking to the same people, found that this had dropped from 81 to 26 percent.

Now, those things have happened in all of our crises–economic, domestic, and international. A President learns to expect them and learns to live with them.

The important thing for every man who occupies this place is to search as best he can to get the right answer; to try to find out what is right; and then do it without regard to polls and without regard to criticism.

REPORTER: Mr. President, a good many Americans have said that a stop to the bombing is worth trying just to see if North Vietnam will respond. What is your view on this?

LBJ: North Vietnam has responded. Their statement this week in the Hanoi newspaper in response to my statement from the Enterprise is very clear and very compelling. It should answer any person in this country who has ever felt that stopping the bombing alone would bring us to the negotiating table.

Hanoi made it very clear in response to my appeal from the Enterprise that their position, in effect, was the same as it has always been. It was the same as enunciated in Ho Chi Minh’s letter to me which Ho Chi Minh made public.

There are some hopeful people and there are some naive people in this country–and there are some political people. But anyone who really wants to know what the position of North Vietnam is should read what the spokesmen of North Vietnam say. That is best summarized in Mr. Ho Chi Minh’s letter to the President that he made public, that is on the record, that he has never changed. So all of these hopes, dreams, and idealistic people going around are misleading and confusing and weakening our position.

REPORTER: Do you have any evidence that the Vietcong might be moving toward the position of wanting to negotiate separate from Hanoi and, if so, what would be your attitude toward negotiating with them?

THE PRESIDENT: I would prefer to handle our negotiations through diplomatic channels with whomsoever we may negotiate. I don’t think this is the place to do our negotiating. We are very anxious to find a solution that will bring an end to the war. As we have stated so many times, we are ready to meet and discuss that with the officials of Hanoi and the Vietcong will have no problem in having their voice fully heard and considered. But I think that it would be better if we would wait until opportunity develops along that line and then do it through our trained diplomats.

REPORTER: Mr. President, a minute ago you talked about the job of being President. This Wednesday you are going to complete 4 years in the Office of the President. I wonder if you could reflect for a moment on the Presidency and what have been your greatest satisfactions and what are your greatest disappointments.

Johnson stepped away from the podium microphones and then stood like a campaigner in front of the reporters.

LBJ: Well, I think we had better do that a little later. I can’t tell all the good things that have happened or the bad ones, either, in these 4 years in a 30-minute press conference. I would be charged with filibustering.

But we primarily want to think of the future–and not the past.

It has been almost two centuries since our Revolution and since we won our freedom. We have come a long way during that period. But we have much farther to go, as you can see from our education and health and city statistics, and farm statistics.

As long as there are four people out of every ten in the world who can’t spell “cat,” or can’t write “dog,” we have much to do.

I am particularly proud of what we have done in education–from Head Start to adult education, where men and women past 70 are learning to read and write for the first time.

I am very pleased, for instance, that we have raised our contributions from the Federal Government to higher education from 16 percent to 24 percent in the last 4 years, while the States have remained practically static.

We have made revolutionary strides in education, in health, in conservation, where we are probably taking in as much land in the public domain for the first time in years as we are letting out.

We feel that we have brought a degree of stability into our international relations to this hemisphere through the Alliance for Progress and our meetings at Punta del Este.

Working with other nations, we have made material advances in helping underdeveloped nations in Africa.

We are very pleased with what has come out of our meetings with the Germans and with the British in connection with our trilateral talks; what has come out of our Kennedy Round meetings; the several treaties that we have negotiated with the Soviet Union, and the one that we are working on so hard now–the nonproliferation treaty.

We are happy that 9 million more people have good-paying jobs today than had them when I came into this office. But these are things of the past, and we should accept. They are here. We want to preserve them. But the important problems are ahead. What is the next century going to be like? What is the third century going to be like?

As long as the ancient enemies are rampant in the world–illiteracy, ignorance, disease, poverty, and war–there is much for government to do. We are working on that now. We will be talking more to you about that in the months ahead.

REPORTER: Mr. President, in view of your talks this week with General Westmoreland, Ambassador Bunker, and others, what is your present assessment of our progress and prospects in Vietnam?

LBJ: Well, I will repeat to you their assessment, because they are the ones who are in the best position to judge things locally. I will give you my evaluation of what they have said.

First, I think every American’s heart should swell with pride at the competence and capacity of our leadership in Vietnam. I believe, and our allied people believe, that we have a superior leadership. I think it is the best that the United States of America can produce–in experience, in judgment, in training, in general competence.

I have had three meetings with Ambassador Bunker and three with General Westmoreland. I had coffee with him at length this morning, just before I came here.

Our American people, when we get in a contest of any kind–whether it is in a war, an election, a football game, or whatever it is–want it decided and decided quickly; get in or get out.

They like that curve to rise like this [indicating a sharp rise] and they like the opposition to go down like this [indicating a sharply declining line].

That is not the kind of war we are fighting in Vietnam.

We made our statement to the world of what we would do if we had Communist aggression in that part of the world in 1954.

We said we would stand with those people in the face of common danger.

The time came when we had to put up or shut up. We put up. And we are there. We don’t march out and have a big battle each day in a guerrilla war. It is a new kind of war for us. So, it doesn’t move that fast.

Summarizing and trying to be fully responsive to your question in the time allotted, we are moving more like this [indicating gradual rise]. They are moving more like this [indicating decline], instead of straight up and straight down.

We are making progress. We are pleased with the results that we are getting.

We are inflicting greater losses than we are taking.

“Ray  he’s lying!”

“I know he’s lying.”

LBJ: Amidst the horrors of war–and more people have been killed trying to vote in South Vietnam than have been killed by bombs in North Vietnam, according to the North Vietnam figures–in the midst of all the horrors of war, in guerrilla fighting in South Vietnam, we have had five elections in a period of a little over 14 months.

There was great doubt whether we could have any. It took us from 1776 to 1789–not 13 months but 13 years–to get a Constitution with our Anglo-Saxon background and all the training we had.

To think that here in the midst of war, when the grenades are popping like firecrackers all around you, that two-thirds or three-fourths of the people would register and vote and have 5 elections in 13 months–and through the democratic process select people at the local level, a constituent assembly, a house of representatives, a senate, a president and a vice president-that is encouraging.

The fact that the population under free control has constantly risen, and that under Communist control has constantly gone down, is a very encouraging sign.

“It’s nationalistic like the American Revolution.”

“Except Ho is a communist.”


LBJ: The improvement that has been made by the South Vietnamese themselves in putting in reforms, in announcing other programs, and in improving their own Army, is a matter of great satisfaction to Ambassador Bunker and to General Westmoreland.

We have a lot to do yet. A great many mistakes have been made. We take two steps forward, and we slip back one. It is not all perfect by any means. There are a good many days when we get a C-minus instead of an A-plus.

But overall, we are making progress. We are satisfied with that progress. Our allies are pleased with that progress. Every country that I know in that area that is familiar with what is happening thinks it is absolutely essential that Uncle Sam keep his word and stay there until we can find an honorable peace.

If they have any doubts about it, Mr. Ho Chi Minh–who reads our papers and who listens to our radio, who looks at our television-if he has any doubts about it, I want to disillusion him this morning.

“Ho will fight to the end,” said Patch.

We keep our commitments. Our people are going to support the men who are there. The men there are going to bring us an honorable peace.

REPORTER: Mr. President, Hanoi may be interpreting current public opinion polls to indicate that you will be replaced next year. How should this affect the campaign in this country?

LBJ: I don’t know how it will affect the campaign in this country. Whatever interpretation Hanoi might make that would lead them to believe that Uncle Sam-whoever may be President–is going to pull out and it will be easier for them to make an inside deal with another President, then they will make a serious misjudgment.

REPORTER: Are you going to run next year?

LBJ: I will cross that bridge when I get to it, as I have told you so many times.

REPORTER: Mr. President, there are increasing statements from Capitol Hill that say your tax bill is dead for this session of Congress. Is there any plan on the part of your administration to try and revive this before Congress leaves; and, secondly, if not, what plans might you have next year to avert this inflationary trend that we are told will be coming?

LBJ: We want very much to have a tax bill just as quickly as we can get it. We think the sound, prudent, fiscal policy requires it. We are going to do everything that the President and the administration can do to get that tax bill.

I would be less than frank if I didn’t tell you that I have no indication whatever that Mr. Mills or Mr. Byrnes or the Ways and Means Committee is likely to report a tax bill before they adjourn.

I feel that one of our failures in the administration has been our inability to convince the Congress of the wisdom of fiscal responsibility and the necessity of passing a tax bill not only for the effect it will have on the inflationary developments, but the effect it will have on the huge deficit that we are running.

I think one of the great mistakes that the Congress will make is that Mr. Ford and Mr. Mills have taken this position that they cannot have any tax bill now. They will live to rue the day when they made that decision. Because it is a dangerous decision. It is an unwise decision.

I think that the people of America–none of whom want to pay taxes–any pollster can walk out and say, “Do you want to pay more tax?” Of course, you will say, “No, I don’t want to pay tax.”

But if you ask him: “Do you want inflation; do you want prices to increase 5 or 6 percent; do you want a deficit of $30 or $35 billion; do you want to spend $35 billion more than you are taking in?” I think the average citizen would say, “No.”

Here at the height of our prosperity when our gross national product is going to run at $850 billion, when we look at the precedents of what we have done in past wars-in Korea when President Truman asked for a tax increase, people supported it.

This request has been before the Congress since last January. They have finished most of the appropriations bills. I read the story this morning. It looks like out of $145 billion they will roughly cut a billion dollars in expenditures.

But they will cut several billion from revenues because of inaction, because people don’t like to stand up and do the unpopular thing of assuming responsibility that men in public life are required to do sometime.

I know it doesn’t add to your polls and your popularity to say we have to have additional taxes to fight this war abroad and fight the problems in our cities at home. But we can do it with the gross national product we have. We should do it. And I think when the American people and the Congress get the full story they will do it.

We have failed up to now to be able to convince them. But we are going to continue to try in every way that is proper.

REPORTER: Senator McCarthy has said he is considering opposing you in the presidential primaries because he believes it would be a healthy thing to debate Vietnam in the primaries, for the party and for the country, too. Do you agree with him? What effect do you think this would have on your own candidacy?

“ I can’t wait for this answer,” said Meinkewitz.

LBJ: I don’t know how I am going to be, after all this opposition develops, so far as my state of health is concerned. But I am very healthy today. I don’t know whether this criticism has contributed to my good health or not.

I don’t know what Senator McCarthy is going to do. I am not sure that he knows what he plans to do. I think we had better just wait and see, until there is something definite there, and meet it when it is necessary.

REPORTER: Why do you think there is so much confusion, frustration, and difference of opinion in this country about the war in Vietnam?

LBJ: There has always been confusion, frustration, and difference of opinion when there is a war going on.

There was in the Revolutionary War when only about a third of the people thought that was a wise move. A third of them opposed it, and a third were on the sideline.

That was true when all of New England came down to secede in Madison’s administration in the War of 1812 and stopped in Baltimore. They didn’t quite make it because Andrew Jackson’s results in New Orleans came in. They were having a party there that night. The next morning, they came and told the President they wanted to congratulate him-that they had thought he was right all along, although they had come from Boston to Baltimore in a secessionist move.

That was true in the Mexican War when the Congress overwhelmingly voted to go in and later passed a resolution that had grave doubts about it. Some of the most bitter speeches were made. They were so bitter they couldn’t be published. They had m hold up publication of them for 100 years.

I don’t have to remind you of what happened in the Civil War. People were here in the White House begging Lincoln to concede and work out a deal with the Confederacy when word came to him of his victories. They told him that Pennsylvania was gone; that Illinois had no chance.

Those pressures come to a President.

You know what President Roosevelt went through, and President Wilson in World War I. He had some Senators from certain areas then that gave him very serious problems until victory was assured.

Now, when you look back upon it, there are very few people who would think that Wilson, Roosevelt, or Truman were in error.

We are going to have this criticism. We are going to have these differences.

No one likes war. All people love peace. But you can’t have freedom without defending it.

REPORTER: Mr. President, the foreign aid authorization has been cut back nearly a third from what you requested. What is the impact of this economy?

LBJ: At a time when the richest nation in the world is enjoying more prosperity than it has ever had before, when we carefully tailor our requests to the very minimum that we think is essential–the lowest request that we have had in years-and then Congress cuts it 33 1/3 percent; I think it is a mistake. It is a serious mistake.

When you consider that $1 billion that we are attempting to save there, out of the $850 billion that we will produce, we ought to reconsider that decision. Because what we are doing with that money not only can give great help to underdeveloped nations; but that, in itself, can prevent the things that cause war where you are required to spend billions to win it.

I would rather have a little preventive medicine. Every dollar that we spend in our foreign assistance, trying to help poor people help themselves, is money well spent.

I don’t think we overdid it. I don’t think we went too far. But I think the Congress has, in the reductions it has made.

Again, it is popular to go back home and say, “Look what I did for you. I cut out all these foreign expenditures.”

But when the trouble develops–the people who are starving, the people who are ignorant, illiterate, and diseased–and wars spring up and we have to go in, we will spend much more than we would if we had taken an ounce of prevention.

REPORTER: Mr. President, some people on the air and in print accuse you of trying to label all criticism of your Vietnam policy as unpatriotic. Could you tell us whether you have guidelines in which you are enabled to separate conscientious dissent from irresponsible dissension?

LBJ: No, I haven’t called anyone unpatriotic. I haven’t said anything that would indicate that. I think the wicked fleeth when no one pursueth, sometimes.

I do think that some people are irresponsible, make untrue statements, and ought to be cautious and careful when they are dealing with the problem involving their men at the front.

There is a great deal of difference, as I said a moment ago, between criticism, indifference, and responsible dissent–all of which we insist on and all of which we protect-and storm trooper bullying, throwing yourself down in the road, smashing windows, rowdyism, and every time a person attempts to speak to try to drown him out.

We believe very strongly in preserving the right to differ in this country, and the right to dissent. If I have done a good job of anything since I have been President, it is to ensure that there are plenty of dissenters.

There is not a person in this press corps that can’t write what he wants to write. Most of them do write what they want to. I say “want” advisedly. I want to protect that. Our Congress wants to protect it.

But if I, by chance, should say: “Now, I am not sure that you saw all the cables on this and you are exactly right; let me explain the other side of it,” I would hope that you wouldn’t say I am lambasting my critics, or that I am assailing someone.

What I am trying to do is to preserve my right to give the other side. I don’t think one side ought to dominate the whole picture.

So, what I would say is, let’s realize that we are in the midst of a war. Let’s realize that there are 500,000 of our boys out there who are risking their lives to win that war. Let’s ask ourselves what it is we can do to help.

If you think you can make a contribution and help them by expressing your opinion and dissenting, then do it.

But then if the Secretary of State starts to explain his viewpoint, don’t send out instructions all over the country and say: “When he starts to talk and says ‘Mr. Chair, man,’ stamp your feet. When he comes to the end of a sentence, all of you do this, and at the third sentence, all of you boo.”

I am amazed that the press in this country, who insist on the right to live by the first amendment, and to be protected by it, doesn’t insist that these storm trooper tactics live by the first amendment, too, and that they be wiped out.

I think the time has come when it would be good for all of us to take a new, fresh look at dissent.

We welcome responsible dissent. But there is a great deal of difference between responsible dissent and some of the things that are taking place in this country which I consider to be extremely dangerous to our national interest, and I consider not very helpful to the men who are fighting the war for us.

Now, everyone must make that judgment for himself.

I have never said anyone was unpatriotic. I don’t question these people’s motives. I do question their judgment.

I can’t say that this dissent has contributed much to any victories we have had.

I can’t say that these various proposals that range from a Senator to a county commissioner to a mayor of a city have really changed General Westmoreland’s plan much, or Ambassador Bunker’s approach. The papers are filled with it every day.

So, I think you have to consider it for what you think it is worth and make your own judgment.

That is the theory of the first amendment.

We don’t stop the publication of any papers. We don’t fine anyone for something they say. We just appeal to them to remember that they don’t have the privilege at the moment of being out there fighting.

Please count to 10 before you say something that hurts instead of helps.

We know that most people’s intentions are good. We don’t question their motives. We have never said they are unpatriotic, although they say some pretty ugly things about us.

People who live in glass houses shouldn’t be too anxious to throw stones.

REPORTER: Mr. President, is your aim in Vietnam to win the war or to seek a compromised, negotiated solution?

LBJ: I think our aims in Vietnam have been very clear from the beginning. They are consistent with the SEATO Treaty, with the Atlantic Charter, and with the many, many statements that we have made to the Congress in connection with the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. The Secretary of State has made this clear dozens and dozens of times–and I made it enough that I thought even all the preachers in the country had heard about it.

That is, namely, to protect the security of the United States. We think the security of the United States is definitely tied in with the security of Southeast Asia.

Secondly, to resist aggression. When we are a party to a treaty that says we will do it, then we carry it out.

I think if you saw a little child in this room who was trying to waddle across the floor and some big bully came along and grabbed it by the hair and started stomping it, I think you would do something about it.

I think that we thought we made a mistake when we saw Hitler moving across the landscape of Europe. The concessions that were made by the men carrying umbrellas at that time–I think in retrospect we thought that was a mistake.

So as a consequence, in 1954 under the leadership of President Eisenhower and Secretary Dulles, we had a SEATO Treaty.

It was debated, it was considered and it was gone into very thoroughly by the Senate. The men who presented that treaty then said: This is dangerous. The time may come when we may have to put up or shut up.

But we ought to serve notice in Asia now as we refused to serve notice in Europe a few years ago that we will resist aggression-that we will stand against someone who seeks to gobble up little countries if those little countries call upon us for our help. So we did that.

I didn’t vote for that treaty. I was in the hospital. Senator Kennedy didn’t vote for it–the late President–he was in the hospital. Senator Dirksen didn’t vote for it. But 82 Senators did vote for it. They knew what was in that treaty.

The time came when we had to decide whether we meant what we said when we said our security was tied into their security and that we would stand in unison in the face of common danger.

Now, we are doing that. We are doing it against whoever combines out there to promote aggression. We are going to do whatever we think is necessary to protect the security of South Vietnam–and let those people determine for themselves what kind of a government they have.

We think they are moving along very quickly in that direction to developing a democratic procedure.

Third, we are going to do whatever it is necessary to do to see that the aggressor does not succeed.

Those are our purposes. Those are our goals. We are going to get a lot of advice to do this or to do that. We are going to consider it all. But for years West Point has been turning out the best military men produced anywhere in the world.

For years we have had in our Foreign Service trained and specialized people. We have in 110 capitals today the best brains we can select.

Under our constitutional arrangements the President must look to his Secretary of State, to his foreign policy, to his ambassadors, to the cables and views that they express, to his leaders like the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and to General Westmoreland and others–and carefully consider everything they say and then do what he thinks is right.

That is not always going to please a county commissioner, or a mayor, or a member of a legislature. It never has in any war we have ever been in been a favorite of the Senate.

The leaders on the military committees and the leaders in other posts have frequently opposed it.

Champ Clark, the Speaker of the House, opposed the draft in Woodrow Wilson’s administration. The Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee–with the exception of Senator Vandenberg–almost invariably has found a great deal wrong with the Executive in the field of foreign policy.

There is a division there, and there is some frustration there.

Those men express it and they have a right to. They have a duty to do it.

But it is also the President’s duty to look and see what substance they have presented; how much they thought it out; what information they have; how much knowledge they have received from General Westmoreland or Ambassador Bunker, whoever it is; how familiar they are with what is going on; and whether you really think you ought to follow their judgment or follow the judgment of the other people.

I do that every day. Some days I have to say to our people: “Let us try this plan that Senator X has suggested.” And we do.

We are doing that with the United Nations resolution. We have tried several times to get the United Nations to play a part in trying to bring peace in Vietnam.

The Senate thinks that this is the way to do it. More than 50 of them have signed a resolution.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee had a big day yesterday. They reported two resolutions in one day.

I have my views. I have my views about really what those resolutions will achieve. But I also have an obligation to seriously and carefully consider the judgments of the other branch of the Government. And we are going to do it.

Even though we may have some doubts about what will be accomplished, that they think may be accomplished, if it is a close question, we will bend to try to meet their views because we think that is important.

We have already tried the United Nations before, but we may try it again because they have hopes and they believe that this is the answer. We will do everything that we can to make it the answer.

I don’t want to hurt its chances by giving any predictions at this moment.

We will consider the views that everyone suggests.

Thank you, Mr. President.

American Injustice-Volume 2

Fitton Books

Time Out: Playboy Interview Jim Garrison

October 1967

Eric Norden was the man interviewing Garrison.

    PLAYBOY: You have been accused — by the National Broadcasting Company, Newsweek, the New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission, and your own former investigative aide William Gurvich — of attempts to intimidate witnesses, of engaging in criminal conspiracy and of inciting to such felonies as perjury, criminal defamation, and public bribery. How do you respond to these charges?  

GARRISON: I’ve stopped beating my wife. All the charges you enumerate have been made with one purpose in mind — to place our office on the defensive and make us waste valuable time answering allegations that have no basis in fact. Also involved is a psychological by-product valuable to those who don’t want the truth about Kennedy’s assassination to become known: The very repetition of a charge lends it a certain credibility, since people have a tendency to believe that where there’s smoke, there’s fire — although I find it difficult to believe that the public will put much credence in most of the dastardly deeds I’ve been accused of in the past few months. Just recently, for example, the rumor went around that my staff was peddling marijuana to high school students and that one of our major witnesses had just confessed that his testimony was based on a dream induced by an overdose of LSD. We’ve also been accused of planning an attack on the local FBI office with guns loaded with red pepper, having stolen money from our own investigative files and having threatened to shoot one witness in the derriere with an exotic gun propelling truth-serum darts. I just hope they never find out about my involvement in the Boston Brinks robbery. I must admit, however, that I’m beginning to worry about the cumulative effect of this propaganda blitzkrieg on potential jurors for the trial of Clay Shaw. I don’t know how long they can withstand the drumbeat obbligato of charges exonerating the defendant and convicting the prosecutor. For months now, the establishment’s artillery units have been pounding away at the two themes NBC focused on — that my office uses “improper methods” with regard to witnesses and that we don’t really have a case against Mr. Shaw and he should never be brought to trial. I hope you’ll give me the chance to answer each of these charges in detail; but first, let me elaborate a bit on the methods we employ in this or any other investigation. My office has been one of the most scrupulous in the country with regard to the protection of individual rights. I’ve been on record for years in law journals and books as championing the rights of the individual against the oppressive power of the state. My office moved in and prevented police seizure from bookstores of books arbitrarily labeled “obscene.” I intervened and managed to persuade the Louisiana legislature to remove a provision from its new code of criminal procedure that would allow judges to reach out from the bench and cite newsmen for contempt if they penned anything embarrassing to the judges. My office has investigated cases where we had already obtained convictions; and on discovering new evidence indicating that the defendant was not guilty, we’ve obtained a reversal of the verdict. In over five years of office, I have never had a single case reversed because of the use of improper methods — a record I’ll match with any other D. A. in the country. In this particular case, I’ve taken unusual steps to protect the rights of the defendant and assure him a fair trial. Before we introduced the testimony of our witnesses, we made them undergo independent verifying tests, including polygraph examination, truth serum and hypnosis. We thought this would be hailed as an unprecedented step in jurisprudence; instead, the press turned around and hinted that we had drugged our witnesses or given them posthypnotic suggestions to testify falsely. After arresting Mr. Shaw, we filed a motion for a preliminary hearing — a proceeding that essentially operates in the defendant’s favor. Such a hearing is generally requested by the defense, and it was virtually unheard of that the motion be filed by the state, which under the law has the right to charge a defendant outright, without any evaluation by a judge of the pending charges. But I felt that because of the enormity of this accusation, we should lean over backward and give the defendant every chance. A three-judge panel heard our evidence against Mr. Shaw and his attorneys’ rebuttals and ordered him indicted for conspiracy to assassinate the President. And I might add here that it’s a matter of record that my relationship with the judiciary of our fair city is not a Damon-Pythias camaraderie. Once the judges had handed down their decision, we could have immediately filed a charge against the defendant just by signing it and depositing it with the city clerk — the customary method of charging a defendant. Nevertheless, out of concern for Mr. Shaw’s rights, we voluntarily presented the case to a blue-ribbon grand jury. If this grand jury had failed to indict Mr. Shaw, our case would have been dead as a doornail. But the grand jury, composed of 12 eminent New Orleans citizens, heard our evidence and indicted the defendant for participation in a conspiracy to assassinate John Kennedy. In a further effort to protect the rights of the defendant, and in the face of the endlessly reiterated accusation that we have no case against him — despite the unanimous verdict of the grand jury and the judges at the preliminary hearing — I have studiously refrained from making any public statement critical of the defendant or prejudging his guilt. Of course, this puts me at a considerable disadvantage when the press claims I have no case against him, because the only way I could convince them of the strength of my case is to throw open our files and let them examine the testimony of all our witnesses. Apart from the injustice such an act would do Mr. Shaw, it could get our whole case thrown out of court on the grounds that we had prejudiced the defendant’s rights by pretrial publicity. So I won’t fall into that particular trap, whatever the provocation. I only wish the press would allow our case to stand or fall on its merits in court. It appears that certain elements of the mass media have an active interest in preventing this case from ever coming to trial at all and find it necessary to employ against me every smear device in the book. To read the press accounts of my investigation — my “circus,” I should say — I’m a cross between Al Capone and Attila the Hun, ruthlessly hounding innocent men, trampling their legal rights, bribing and threatening witnesses and in general violating every canon of legal ethics. My God, anybody who employs the kind of methods that elements of the news media attribute to me should not only not be a district attorney, he should be disbarred. This case has taught me the difference between image and reality, and the power of the mythmakers. But I know I’ve done everything possible to conduct this investigation with honesty and integrity and with full respect for the civil rights of the defendant. But a blanket denial of charges against me isn’t going to convince anyone, so why don’t we consider them one by one?

PLAYBOY: All right. The May 15th issue of Newsweek charged that two of your investigators offered David Ferrie’s former roommate, Alvin Beauboeuf, $3000 and an airline job if he would help substantiate your charges against Clay Shaw. How do you answer this accusation?  

GARRISON: Mr. Beauboeuf was one of the two men who accompanied David Ferrie on a mysterious trip from New Orleans to Texas on the day of the assassination, so naturally we were interested in him from the very start of our investigation. At first, he showed every willingness to cooperate with our office; but after Ferrie’s death, somebody gave him a free trip to Washington. From that moment on, a change came over Beauboeuf; he refused to cooperate with us any further and he made the charges against my investigators to which you refer. Fortunately, Beauboeuf had signed an affidavit on April 12th — well after the alleged bribe offer was supposed to have been made — affirming that “no representative of the New Orleans Parish district attorney’s office has ever asked me to do anything but to tell the truth. Any inference or statement by anyone to the contrary has no basis in fact.” As soon as his attorney began broadcasting his charges, we asked the New Orleans police department to thoroughly investigate the matter. And on June 12th, the police department — which is not, believe me, in the pocket of the district attorney’s office — released a report concluding that exhaustive investigation by the police intelligence branch had cleared my staff of any attempt to bribe or threaten Beauboeuf into giving untrue testimony. There was no mention of this report, predictably enough, in Newsweek. Let me make one thing clear, though: Like every police department and district attorney’s office across the country, we have sums set aside to pay informers for valuable information — but we would never suborn perjury. This isn’t because we’re saints — short cuts like that could be awfully tempting in a frustrating case — but because we’re realistic enough to know that any witness who can be bought by us can also be bought by the other side. So it’s rather naive, apart from being ethically objectionable, to assume that our investigators travel around the country with bags of money trying to bribe witnesses to lie on the witness stand. We just don’t operate that way.  

PLAYBOY: On an NBC television special, “The J.F.K. Conspiracy: The Case of Jim Garrison,” a former Turkish-bathhouse operator in New Orleans, Fred Leemans, claimed that one of your aides offered him money to testify that Clay Shaw had frequented his establishment with Lee Harvey Oswald. Do you also deny this charge?  

GARRISON: Yes; and it’s a perfect illustration of the point I was just making about how easy it is for the other side to buy witnesses and then charge us with its own misconduct. Mr. Leemans came to us in early May, volunteering testimony to the effect that he had often seen a man named Clay Bertrand in his bathhouse, sometimes accompanied by men he described as “Latins.” In a sworn affidavit, Leemans said he had also seen a young man called Lee with Bertrand on four or five occasions — a man who fits the description of Lee Harvey Oswald. Leemans also identified the Clay Bertrand who had frequented his establishment as Clay Shaw. Now, this was important testimony, and initially we were favorably impressed with Mr. Leemans. But then we started receiving calls from him demanding money. Well, I’ve told you our policy on this, and the answer was a flat no. He was quiet for a while and then he called and asked if we would approve if he sold his story to a magazine, since he badly needed money. We refused to give him such approval. Apparently, the National Broadcasting Company was able to establish a warmer relationship with Mr. Leemans. In any case, he now says that he didn’t really lie to us; he just “told us what he thought we wanted to hear.” I’m sure he was equally cooperative with NBC — although he’s beginning to spread his favors around. When a reporter asked him for more information after the broadcast, Leemans refused, explaining that he was saving himself for the Associated Press, “since I want to make something out of this.” I would like to make one personal remark about Mr. Leemans. I don’t know if he was lying to us initially or not — though I suspect from other evidence in my possession that his statement as he first gave it was accurate — but anybody, no matter what his financial straits, who tries to make a fast buck off the assassination of John Kennedy is several rungs below the anthropoid ape on the evolutionary scale.  

PLAYBOY: On this same NBC show, newsman Frank McGee claimed that NBC investigators had discovered that your two key witnesses against Clay Shaw — Perry Russo and Vernon Bundy — both failed polygraph tests prior to their testimony before the grand jury. In the case of Russo, who claimed to have attended a meeting at David Ferrie’s apartment where Shaw, Oswald and Ferrie plotted the assassination, NBC said that “Russo’s answers to a series of questions indicate, in the language of the polygraph operator, ‘deception criteria.’ He was asked if he knew Clay Shaw. He was asked if he knew Lee Harvey Oswald. His ‘yes’ answer to both of these questions indicated ‘deception criteria.'” Did Bundy and Russo fail their lie-detector tests?  

GARRISON: No, and NBC’s allegations in this area are about as credible as its other charges. The men who administered both polygraph tests flatly deny that Russo and Bundy failed the test. I’ll offer right now to make Russo’s and Bundy’s polygraph tests accessible to any reputable investigator or reporter the day Clay Shaw’s trial begins; I can’t do it before that, because I’m restrained from releasing material pertaining to Shaw’s guilt or innocence. Just for your information, though, the veracity of Bundy and Russo has been affirmed not only through polygraph tests but through hypnosis and the administration of sodium amytal — truth serum. I want to make a proposition to the president of NBC: If this charge is true, then I will resign as district attorney of New Orleans. If it’s untrue, however, then the president of NBC should resign. Just in case he thinks I’m kidding, I’m ready to meet with him at any time to select a mutually acceptable committee to determine once and for all the truth or falsehood of this charge. In all fairness, however, I must add that the fact Bundy and Russo passed their polygraph tests is not, in and of itself, irrefutable proof that they were telling the truth; that’s why we administered the other tests. The lie detector isn’t a foolproof technique. A man well-rehearsed and in complete control of himself can master those reactions that would register on the polygraph as deception criteria and get away with blatant lies, while someone who is extremely nervous and anxiety-ridden could tell the truth and have it register as a lie. Much also depends on who administers the test, since it can easily be rigged. For example, Jack Ruby took a lie-detector test for the Warren Commission and told lie after outright lie — even little lies that could be easily checked — and yet the Warren Commission concluded that he passed the test. So the polygraph is only one weapon in the arsenal we use to verify a witness’ testimony, and we have never considered it conclusive; we have abundant documentation to corroborate their stories.  

PLAYBOY: Two convicts, Miguel Torres and John Cancler, told NBC that Vernon Bundy
admitted having lied in his testimony linking Clay Shaw to Lee Oswald. Do you dismiss this as just another NBC fabrication?  

GARRISON: Messrs. Cancler and Torres were both convicted by my office, as were almost half the men in the state penitentiary, and I’m sure the great majority of them have little love for the man who sent them up. I don’t know if they fabricated their stories in collusion with NBC or on their own for motives of revenge, but I’m convinced from what I know of Vernon Bundy that his testimony was truthful. NBC manipulated the statements of Cancler and Torres to give the impression to the viewer that he was watching a trial on television — my trial — and that these “objective” witnesses were saying exactly what they would say in a court of law. Actually — and NBC scrupulously avoided revealing this to its audience — their “testimony” was not under oath, there was no opportunity for cross-examination or the presentation of rebuttal witnesses, and the statements of Cancler, Torres and all the rest of NBC’s road company were edited so that the public would hear only those elements of their story that would damage our case. The rules of evidence and adversary procedure, I might add, have been developed over many years precisely to prevent this kind of phony side show. Of course, these two convicts have been used against my office in variety of respects. Miguel Torres also claims I offered him a full pardon, a vacation in Florida and an ounce of heroin if he would testify that Clay Shaw had made homosexual overtures to him on the street. What on earth that would have established relevant to this case I still don’t know, but that’s his story. I think it was actually rather cheap of me to offer Torres only an ounce of heroin; that wouldn’t have lasted out his vacation. A kilo would be more like it. After all, I’m not stingy. Torres’ friend John Cancler, a burglar, has also charged that one of my investigators tried to induce him to burglarize Clay Shaw’s house and plant false evidence there, but he refused because he would not have such a heinous sin on his conscience. I suppose that’s why Cancler’s prison nickname is “John the Baptist.” I can assure you, if we ever wanted to burglarize Shaw’s home — which we never did — John the Baptist would be the last man on earth we’d pick for the job. By the way, Mr. Cancler was called before the grand jury and asked if he had told the truth to NBC. He replied, “I refuse to answer on the grounds that my answer might incriminate me” — and was promptly sentenced to six months in prison and a $500 fine for contempt of court.  

PLAYBOY: The NBC special also claimed to have discovered that “Clay, or Clem, Bertrand does exist. Clem Bertrand is not his real name. It is a pseudonym used by a homosexual in New Orleans. For his protection, we will not disclose the real name of the man known as Clem Bertrand. His real name has been given to the Department of Justice. He is not Clay Shaw.” Doesn’t this undermine your entire case against Shaw?  

GARRISON: Your faith in NBC’s veracity is touching and indicates that the Age of Innocence is not yet over. NBC does not have the real Clay Bertrand; the man whose name NBC so melodramatically turned over to the Justice Department is that of Eugene Davis, a New Orleans bar owner, who has firmly denied under oath that he has ever used the name Clay, or Clem, Bertrand. We know from incontrovertible evidence in our possession who the real Clay Bertrand is — and we will prove it in court. But to make this whole thing a little clearer, let me tell you the genesis of the whole “Clay Bertrand” story. A New Orleans lawyer, Dean Andrews, told the Warren Commission that a few months before the assassination of President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald and a group of “gay Mexicanos” came to his office and requested Andrews’ aid in having Oswald’s Marteaue Corps undesirable discharge changed to an honorable discharge; Oswald subsequently returned alone with other legal problems. Andrews further testified that the day after President Kennedy was assassinated, he received a call from Clay Bertrand, who asked him to rush to Dallas to represent Oswald. Andrews claims he subsequently saw Bertrand in a New Orleans bar, but Bertrand fled when Andrews approached him. This was intriguing testimony, although the Warren Commission dismissed it out of hand; and in 1964, Mark Lane traveled to New Orleans to speak to Andrews. He found him visibly frightened. “I’ll take you to dinner,” Andrews told Lane, “But I can’t talk about the case. I called Washington and they told me that if I said anything, I might get a bullet in the head.” For the same reason, he has refused to cooperate with my office in this investigation. The New York Times reported on February 26th that “Mr. Andrews said he had not talked to Mr. Garrison because such talk might be dangerous but added that he believed he was being ‘tailed.'” Andrews told our grand jury that he could not say Clay Shaw was Clay Bertrand and he could not say he wasn’t. But the day after NBC’s special, Andrews broke his silence and said, yes, Clay Shaw is not Clem Bertrand and identified the real Clay Bertrand as Eugene Davis. The only trouble is, Andrews and Davis have known each other for years and have been seen frequently in each other’s company. Andrews has lied so often and about so many aspects of this case that the New Orleans Parish grand jury has indicted him for perjury. I feel sorry for him, since he’s afraid of getting a bullet in his head, but he’s going to have to go to trial for perjury. [Andrews has since been convicted.]  

PLAYBOY: You expressed your reaction to the NBC show in concrete terms on July seventh, when you formally charged Walter Sheridan, the network’s special investigator for the broadcast, with attempting to bribe your witness, Perry Russo. Do you really have a case against Sheridan, or is this just a form of harassment?  

GARRISON: The reason we haven’t lost a major case in over five years in office is that we do not charge a man unless we can make it stick in court. And I’m not in the business of harassing anybody. Sheridan was charged because evidence was brought to us indicating that he attempted to bribe Perry Russo by offering him free transportation to California, free lodgings, and a job once there, payment of all legal fees in any extradition proceedings and immunity from my office. Mr. Russo has stated that Sheridan asked his help “to wreck the Garrison investigation” and “offered to set me up in California, protect my job and guarantee that Garrison would never get me extradited.” According to Russo, Sheridan added that both NBC and the CIA were out to scuttle my case. I think it’s significant that the chief investigator for this ostensibly objective broadcast starts telling people the day he arrives in town that he is going to “destroy Garrison” — this at the same time he is unctuously assuring me that NBC wanted only the truth and he had an entirely open mind on my case. Let me tell you something about Walter Sheridan’s background, and maybe you’ll understand his true role in all this. Sheridan was one of the bright, hard young investigators who entered the Justice Department under Bobby Kennedy. He was assigned to nail Jimmy Hoffa. Sheridan employed a wide variety of highly questionable tactics in the Justice Department’s relentless drive against Hoffa; he was recently subpoenaed to testify in connection with charges that he wire-tapped the offices of Hoffa’s associates and then played back incriminating tapes to them, warning that unless they testified for the Government, they would be destroyed along with Hoffa. A few years ago, Sheridan left the Justice Department — officially, at least — and went to work for NBC. No honest reporter out for a story would have so completely prejudged the situation and been willing to employ such tactics. I think it’s likely that in his zeal to destroy my case, he exceeded the authority granted him by NBC’s executives in New York. I get the impression that the majority of NBC executives probably thought Sheridan’s team came down here in an uncompromising search for the truth. When Sheridan overstepped himself and it became obvious that the broadcast was, to say the least, not objective, NBC realized it was in a touchy position. Cooler heads prevailed and I was allowed to present our case to the American people. For that, at least, I’m singularly grateful to Walter Sheridan.  

PLAYBOY: How do you respond to the charge of your critics — including NBC — that you launched this probe for political reasons, hoping the attendant publicity would be a springboard to a Senate seat or to the governorship?  

GARRISON: I’d have to be a terribly cynical and corrupt man to place another human being on trial for conspiracy to murder the President of the United States just to gratify my political ambition. But I guess there are a lot of people around the country, especially after NBC’s attack, who think that’s just the kind of man I am. That rather saddens me. I’m no Albert Schweitzer, but I could never do a thing like that. I derive no pleasure from prosecuting a man, even though I know he’s guilty; do you think I could sleep at night or look at myself in the mirror in the morning if I hounded an innocent man? You know, I always received much more satisfaction as a defense attorney in obtaining an acquittal for a client than I ever have as a D.A. in obtaining a conviction. All my interests and sympathies tend to be on the side of the individual as opposed to the state. So this is really the worst charge that anyone could make against me — that in order to get my name in the paper, or to advance politically, I would destroy another human being. This kind of charge reveals a good deal about the personality of the people who make it; to impute such motives to another man is to imply you’re harboring them yourself. But to look at a different aspect of your question, I’m inclined to challenge the whole premise that launching an investigation like this holds any political advantages for me. A politically ambitious man would hardly be likely to challenge the massed power of the Federal Government and criticize so many honorable figures and distinguished agencies. Actually, this charge is an argument in favor of my investigation: Would such a slimy type, eager to profiteer on the assassination, jeopardize his political ambitions if he didn’t have an ironclad case? If I were really the ambitious monster they paint me, why would I climb out on such a limb and then saw it off? Unless he had the facts, it would be the last thing a politically ambitious man would do. I was perfectly aware that I might have signed my political death warrant the moment I launched this case — but I couldn’t care less as long as I can shed some light on John Kennedy’s assassination. As a matter of fact, after this last murderous year, I find myself thinking more and more about returning to private life and having time to read again, to get out in the sun and hit a golf ball. But before I do that, I’m going to break this case and let the public know the truth. I won’t quit before that day. I wouldn’t give the bastards the satisfaction.  

PLAYBOY: According to your own former chief investigator, William Gurvich, the truth about the assassination has already been published in the Warren Report. After leaving your staff last June, he announced, “If there is any truth to any of Garrison’s charges about there being a conspiracy, I haven’t been able to find it.” When members of your own staff have no faith in your case, how do you expect the public to be impressed?  

GARRISON: First of all, I won’t deny for a minute that for at least three months I trusted Bill Gurvich implicitly. He was never my “chief investigator” — that’s his own terminology — because there was no such position on my staff while he worked for me. But two days before Christmas 1966, Gurvich, who operates a private detective agency, visited my office and told me he’d heard of my investigation and thought I was doing a wonderful job. He presented me with a beautiful color-TV set and asked if he could be of use in any capacity. Well, right then and there, I should have sat back and asked myself a few searching questions — like how he had heard of my probe in the first place, since only the people we were questioning and a few of my staff, as far as I knew, were aware of what was going on at that time. We had been under way for only five weeks, remember. And I should also have recalled the old adage about Greeks bearing gifts. But I was desperately understaffed — I had only six aides available to work on the assassination inquiry full time — and here comes a trained private investigator offering his services free of charge. It was like a gift from the gods. So, I set Gurvich to work; and for the next couple of months, he did an adequate job of talking to witnesses, taking photographs, etc. But then, around March, I learned that he had been seeing Walter Sheridan of NBC. Well, this didn’t bother me at first, because I didn’t know then the role Sheridan was playing in this whole affair. But after word got back to me from my witnesses about Sheridan’s threats and harassment, I began keeping a closer eye on Bill. I still didn’t really think he was any kind of a double agent, but I couldn’t help wondering why he was rubbing elbows with people like that. Now, don’t forget that Gurvich claims he became totally disgusted with our investigation at the time of Clay Shaw’s arrest — yet for several months afterward he continued to wax enthusiastic about every aspect of our case, and I have a dozen witnesses who will testify to that effect. I guess this was something that should have tipped me off about Bill: He was always enthusiastic, never doubtful, or cautionary, even when I or one of my staff threw out a hypothesis that on reflection, we realized was wrong. And I began to notice how he would pick my mind for every scrap of fact pertaining to the case. So, I grew suspicious and took him off the sensitive areas of the investigation and relegated him to chauffeuring and routine clerical duties. This seemed to really bother him, and every day he would come into my office and pump me for information, complaining that he wasn’t being told enough about the case. I still had nothing concrete against him and I didn’t want to be unjust, but I guess my manner must have cooled perceptibly, because one day about two months before he surfaced in Washington, Bill just vanished from our sight. And with him, I’m sorry to confess, vanished a copy of our master file. How do you explain such behavior? It’s possible that Bill joined us initially for reasons of opportunism, seeing a chance to get in at the beginning of an earth-shaking case, and subsequently chickened out when he saw the implacable determination of some powerful agencies to destroy our investigation and discredit everyone associated with it. But I really don’t believe Bill is that much of a coward. It’s also possible that those who want to prevent an investigation learned early what we were doing and made a decision to plant somebody on the inside of the investigation. Let me stress that I have no secret documents or monitored telephone calls to support this hypothesis; it just seems to me the most logical explanation for Bill’s behavior. Let me put it this way: If you were in charge of the CIA and willing to spend scores of millions of dollars on such relatively penny-ante projects as infiltrating the National Students Association, wouldn’t you make an effort to infiltrate an investigation that could seriously damage the prestige of your agency?  

PLAYBOY: How could your probe damage the prestige of the CIA and cause them to take countermeasures against you?  

GARRISON: For the simple reason that a number of the men who killed the President were former employees of the CIA involved in its anti-Castro underground activities in and around New Orleans. The CIA knows their identity. So do I — and our investigation has established this without the shadow of a doubt. Let me stress one thing, however: We have no evidence that any official of the CIA was involved with the conspiracy that led to the President’s death.

PLAYBOY: Do you lend no credence, then, to the charges of a former CIA agent, J. Garrett Underhill, that there was a conspiracy within the CIA to assassinate Kennedy?  

GARRISON: I’ve become familiar with the case of Gary Underhill, and I’ve been able to ascertain that he was not the type of man to make wild or unsubstantiated charges. Underhill was an intelligence agent in World War Two and an expert on military affairs whom the Pentagon considered one of the country’s top authorities on limited warfare. He was on good personal terms with the top brass in the Defense Department and the ranking officials in the CIA. He was  a full-time CIA agent, but he occasionally performed “special assignments” for the Agency. Several days after the  assassination, Underhill appeared at the home of friends in New Jersey, apparently badly shaken, and charged that Kennedy was killed by a small group within the CIA. He told friends he believed his own life was in danger. We can’t learn any more from Underhill, I’m afraid, because shortly afterward, he was found shot to death in his Washington apartment. The coroner ruled suicide, but he had been shot behind the left ear and the pistol was found under his left side — and Underhill was right-handed.  

PLAYBOY: Do you believe Underhill was murdered to silence him?  

GARRISON: I don’t believe it and I don’t disbelieve it. All I know is that witnesses with vital evidence in this case are certainly bad insurance risks. In the absence of further and much more conclusive evidence to the contrary, however, we must assume that the plotters were acting on their own rather than on CIA orders when they killed the President. As far as we have been able to determine, they were not in the pay of the CIA at the time of the assassination — and this is one of the reasons the President was murdered: I’ll explain later what I mean by that. But the CIA could not face up to the American people and admit that its former employees had conspired to assassinate the President; so from the moment Kennedy’s heart stopped beating, the Agency attempted to sweep the whole conspiracy under the rug. The CIA has spared neither time nor the taxpayers’ money in its efforts to hide the truth about the assassination from the American people. In this respect, it has become an accessory after the fact in the assassination.  

PLAYBOY: Do you have any conclusive evidence to support these accusations?  

GARRISON: I’ve never revealed this before, but for at least six months, my office and home telephones — and those of every member of my staff — have been monitored. If there is as little substance to this investigation as the press and the Government allege, why would anyone go to all that trouble? I leave it to your judgment if the monitoring of our phones is the work of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union or the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce.  

PLAYBOY: That’s hardly conclusive evidence.  

GARRISON: I’d need a book to list all the indications. But let’s start with the fact that most of the attorneys for the hostile witnesses and defendants were hired by the CIA — through one or another of its covers. For example, a New Orleans lawyer representing Alvin Beaubouef, who has charged me with every kind of unethical practice except child molesting — I expect that allegation to come shortly before Shaw’s trial — flew with Beauboeuf to Washington immediately after my office subpoenaed him, where Beaubouef was questioned by a “retired” intelligence officer in the offices of the Justice Department. This trip was paid for, as are the lawyer’s legal fees, by the CIA — in other words, with our tax dollars. Another lawyer, Stephen Plotkin, who represents Gordon Novel [another of Garrison’s key witnesses], has admitted he is paid by the CIA — and has also admitted his client is a CIA agent; you may have seen that story on page 96 of The New York Times, next to ship departures. Plotkin, incidentally, sued me for $10,000,000 for defaming his client and sued a group of New Orleans businessmen financing my investigation for $50,000,000 — which meant, in effect, that the CIA was suing us. As if they need the money. But my attorney filed a motion for a deposition to be taken from Novel, which meant that he would have to return to my jurisdiction to file his suit and thus be liable for questioning in the conspiracy case. Rather than come down to New Orleans and face the music, Novel dropped his suit and sacrificed a possible $60,000,000 judgment. Now, there’s a man of principle; he knows there are some things more important than money.   PLAYBOY: Do you also believe Clay Shaw’s lawyers are being paid by the CIA?   GARRISON: I can’t comment directly on that, since it relates to Shaw’s trial. But I think the clincher, as far as Washington’s obstruction of our probe goes, is the consistent refusal of the Federal Government to make accessible to us any information about the roles of the CIA, anti-Castro Cuban exiles and the para-military right in the assassination. There is, without doubt, a conspiracy by elements of the Federal Government to keep the facts of this case from ever becoming known — a conspiracy that is the logical extension of the initial conspiracy by the CIA to conceal vital evidence from the Warren Commission.  

PLAYBOY: What “vital evidence” did the CIA withhold from the Warren Commission?  

GARRISON: A good example is Commission Exhibit number 237. This is a photograph of a stocky, balding, middle-aged man published without explanation or identification in the 26 volumes of the Warren Report. There’s a significant story behind Exhibit number 237. Throughout the late summer and fall of 1963, Lee Oswald was shepherded in Dallas and New Orleans by a CIA “baby sitter” who watched over Oswald’s activities and stayed with him. My office knows who he is and what he looks like.  

PLAYBOY: Are you implying that Oswald was working for the CIA?  

GARRISON: Let me finish and you can decide for yourself. When Oswald went to Mexico City in an effort to obtain a visa for travel to Cuba, this CIA agent accompanied him. Now, at this particular time, Mexico was the only Latin-American nation maintaining diplomatic ties with Cuba, and leftists and Communists from all over the hemisphere traveled to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City for visas to Cuba. The CIA, quite properly, had placed a hidden movie camera in a building across the street from the embassy and filmed everyone coming and going. The Warren Commission, knowing this, had an assistant legal counsel ask the FBI for a picture of Oswald and his companion on the steps of the embassy, and the FBI, in turn, filed an affidavit saying they had obtained the photo in question from the CIA. The only trouble is that the CIA supplied the Warren Commission with a phony photograph. The photograph of an “unidentified man” published in the 26 volumes is not the man who was filmed with Oswald on the steps of the Cuban Embassy, as alleged by the CIA. It’s perfectly clear that the actual picture of Oswald and his companion was suppressed and a fake photo substituted because the second man in the picture was working for the CIA in 1963, and his identification as a CIA agent would have opened up a whole can of worms about Oswald’s ties with the Agency. To prevent this, the CIA presented the Warren Commission with fraudulent evidence — a pattern that repeats itself whenever the CIA submits evidence relating to Oswald’s possible connection with any U.S. intelligence agency. The CIA lied to the Commission right down the line; and since the Warren Commission had no investigative staff of its own but had to rely on the FBI, the Secret Service and the CIA for its evidence, it’s understandable why the Commission concluded that Oswald had no ties with American intelligence agencies.  

PLAYBOY: What was the nature of these ties?  

GARRISON: That’s not altogether clear, at least insofar as his specific assignments are concerned; but we do have proof that Oswald was recruited by the CIA in his Marteaue Corps days, when he was mysteriously schooled in Russian and allowed to subscribe to Pravda. And shortly before his trip to the Soviet Union, we have learned, Oswald was trained as an intelligence agent at the CIA installation at Japan’s Atsugi Air Force Base — which may explain why no disciplinary action was taken against him when he returned to the U.S. from the Soviet Union, even though he had supposedly defected with top-secret information about our radar networks. The money he used to return to the U.S., incidentally, was advanced to him by the State Department.  

PLAYBOY: In an article for Ramparts, ex-FBI agent William Turner indicated that White Russian refugee George De Mohrenschildt may have been Oswald’s CIA “baby sitter” in Dallas. Have you found any links between the CIA and De Mohrenschildt?  

GARRISON: I can’t comment directly on that, but George De Mohrenschildt is certainly an enigmatic and intriguing character. Here you have a wealthy, cultured White Russian émigré who travels in the highest social circles — he was a personal friend of Mrs. Hugh Auchincloss, Jackie Kennedy’s mother — suddenly developing an intimate relationship with an impoverished ex-Marteaue like Lee Oswald. What did they discuss — last year’s season at Biarritz, or how to beat the bank at Monte Carlo? And Mr. De Mohrenschildt has a penchant for popping up in the most interesting places at the most interesting times — for example, in Haiti just before a joint Cuban exile-CIA venture to topple Duvalier and use the island as a springboard for an invasion of Cuba, and in Guatemala, another CIA training ground, the day before the Bay of Pigs invasion. We have a good deal more information about Oswald’s CIA contacts in Dallas and New Orleans — most of which we discovered by sheer chance — but there are still whole areas of inquiry blocked from us by the CIA’s refusal to cooperate with our investigation. For public consumption, the CIA claims not to have been concerned with Oswald prior to the assassination. But one thing is certain: Despite these pious protestations, the CIA was very much aware of Oswald’s activities well before the President’s murder. In a notarized affidavit, State Department officer James D. Crowley states, “The first time I remember learning of Oswald’s existence was when I received copies of a telegraphic message from the Central Intelligence Agency dated October 10, 1963, which contained information pertaining to his current activities.” It would certainly be interesting to know what the CIA knew about Oswald six weeks before the assassination, but the contents of this particular message never reached the Warren Commission and remain a complete mystery. There are also 51 CIA documents classified top secret in the National Archives pertaining to Lee Oswald and Jack Ruby. Technically, the members of the Commission had access to them; but in practice, any document the CIA wanted classified was shunted into the Archives without examination by the sleeping beauties on the Commission. Twenty-nine of these files are of particular interest, because their titles alone indicate that the CIA had extensive information on Oswald and Ruby before the assassination. A few of these documents are: CD 347, “Activity of Oswald in Mexico City”; CD 1054, “Information on Jack Ruby and Associates”; CD 692, “Reproduction of Official CIA Dossier on Oswald”; CD 1551, “Conversations Between Cuban President and Ambassador”; CD 698, “Reports of Travel and Activities of Oswald”; CD 943, “Allegations of Pfc. Eugene Dinkin re Assassination Plot”; and CD 971, “Telephone Calls to U.S. Embassy, Canberra, Australia, re Planned Assassination.” The titles of these documents are all we have to go on, but they’re certainly intriguing. For example, the public has heard nothing about phone calls to the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, warning in advance of the assassination, nor have we been told anything about a Pfc. Dinkin who claims to have knowledge of an assassination plot. One of the top-secret files that most intrigues me is CD 931, which is entitled “Oswald’s Access to Information About the U-2.” I have 24 years of military experience behind me, on active duty and in the reserves, and I’ve never had any access to the U-2; in fact, I’ve never seen one. But apparently this “self-proclaimed Marxist,” Lee Harvey Oswald, who we’re assured had no ties to any Government agency, had access to information about the nation’s most secret high-altitude reconnaissance plane. Of course, it may be that none of these CIA files reveals anything sinister about Lee Harvey Oswald or hints in any way that he was employed by our government. But then, why are the 51 CIA documents classified top secret in the Archives and inaccessible to the public for 75 years? I’m 45, so there’s no hope for me, but I’m already training my eight-year-old son to keep himself physically fit so that on one glorious September morn in 2038 he can walk into the National Archives in Washington and find out what the CIA knew about Lee Harvey Oswald. If there’s a further extension of the top-secret classification, this may become a generational affair, with questions passed down from father to son in the manner of the ancient runic bards. But someday, perhaps, we’ll find out what Oswald was doing messing around with the U-2. Of course, there are some CIA documents we’ll never see. When the Warren Commission asked to see a secret CIA memo on Oswald’s activities in Russia that had been attached to a State Department letter on Oswald’s Russian stay, word came back that the Agency was terribly sorry, but the secret memo had been destroyed while being photocopied. This unfortunate accident took place on November 23, 1963, a day on which there must have occurred a great deal of spontaneous combustion around Washington.  

PLAYBOY: John A. McCone, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has said of Oswald: “The Agency never contacted him, interviewed him, talked with him or received or solicited any reports or information from him or communicated with him in any manner. Lee Harvey Oswald was never associated or connected directly or indirectly, in any way whatsoever, with the Agency.” Why do you refuse to accept McCone’s word?  

GARRISON: The head of the CIA, it seems to me, would think long and hard before he admitted that former employees of his had been involved in the murder of the President of the United States — even if they weren’t acting on behalf of the Agency when they did it. In any case, the CIA’s past record hardly induces faith in the Agency’s veracity. CIA officials lied about their role in the overthrow of the Arbenz Guzman regime in Guatemala; they lied about their role in the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran; they lied about their role in the abortive military revolt against Sukarno in 1958; they lied about the U-2 incident; and they certainly lied about the Bay of Pigs. If the CIA is ready to lie even about its successes — as in Guatemala and Iran — do you seriously believe its director would tell the truth in a case as explosive as this? Of course, CIA officials grow so used to lying, so steeped in deceit, that after a while I think they really become incapable of distinguishing truth and falsehood. Or, in an Orwellian sense, perhaps they come to believe that truth is what contributes to national security, and falsehood is anything detrimental to national security. John McCone would swear he’s a Croatian dwarf if he thought it would advance the interests of the CIA — which he automatically equates with the national interest.  

PLAYBOY: Let’s get down to the facts of the assassination, as you see them. When — and why — did you begin to doubt the conclusions of the Warren Report?  

GARRISON: Until as recently as November of 1966, I had complete faith in the Warren Report. As a matter of fact, I viewed its most vocal critics with the same skepticism that much of the press now views me — which is why I can’t condemn the mass media too harshly for their cynical approach, except in the handful of cases where newsmen seem to be in active collusion with Washington to torpedo our investigation. Of course, my faith in the Report was grounded in ignorance, since I had never read it; as Mark Lane says, “The only way you can believe the Report is not to have read it.” But then, in November, I visited New York City with Senator Russell Long; and when the subject of the assassination came up, he expressed grave doubts about the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin. Now, this disturbed me, because here was the Majority Whip of the U.S. Senate speaking, not some publicity hound with an ideological ax to grind; and if at this late juncture he still entertained serious reservations about the Commission’s determinations, maybe there was more to the assassination than met the eye. So, I began reading every book and magazine article on the assassination I could get my hands on — my tombstone may be inscribed “Curiosity Killed The D.A.” — and I found my own doubts growing. Finally, I put aside all other business and started to wade through the Warren Commission’s own 26 volumes of supportive evidence and testimony. That was the clincher. It’s impossible for anyone possessed of reasonable objectivity and a fair degree of intelligence to read those 26 volumes and not reach the conclusion that the Warren Commission was wrong in every one of its major conclusions pertaining to the assassination. For me, that was the end of innocence.  

PLAYBOY: Do you mean to imply that the Warren Commission deliberately concealed or
falsified the facts of the assassination?  

GARRISON: No, you don’t need any explanation more sinister than incompetence to account for the Warren Report. Though I didn’t know it at the time, the Commission simply didn’t have all the facts, and many of those they had were fraudulent, as I’ve pointed out — thanks to the evidence withheld and manufactured by the CIA. If you add to this the fact that most of the Commission members had already presumed Oswald’s guilt and were merely looking for facts to confirm it — and in the process tranquilize the American public — you’ll realize why the Commission was such a dismal failure. But in the final analysis, it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference whether the Commission members were sincere patriots or mountebanks; the question is whether Lee Oswald killed the President alone and unaided; if the evidence doesn’t support that conclusion — and it doesn’t — a thousand honorable men sitting shoulder to shoulder along the banks of the Potomac won’t change the  .  

PLAYBOY: So you began your investigation of the President’s assassination on nothing stronger than you own doubts and the theories of the Commission’s critics?  

GARRISON: No, please don’t put words in my mouth. The works of the critics — particularly Edward Epstein, Harold Weisberg and Mark Lane — sparked my general doubts about the assassination; but more importantly, they led me into specific areas of inquiry. After I realized that something was seriously wrong, I had no alternative but to face the fact that Oswald had arrived in Dallas only a short time before the assassination and that prior to that time he had lived in New Orleans for over six months. I became curious about what this alleged assassin was doing while under my jurisdiction, and my staff began an investigation of Oswald’s activities and contacts in the New Orleans area. We interviewed people the Warren Commission had never questioned, and a whole new world began opening up. As I studied Oswald’s movements in Dallas, my mind turned back to the aftermath of the assassination in 1963, when my office questioned three men — David Ferrie, Alvin Beaubouef and Melvin Coffey — on suspicion of being involved in the assassination. I began to wonder if we hadn’t dismissed these three men too lightly, and we reopened our investigation into their activities.  

PLAYBOY: Why did you become interested in Ferrie and his associates in November 1963?  

GARRISON: To explain that I’ll have to tell you something about the operation of our office. I believe we have one of the best district attorney’s offices in the country. We have no political appointments and, as a result, there’s a tremendous amount of esprit among our staff and an enthusiasm for looking into unanswered questions. That’s why we got together the day after the assassination and began examining our files and checking out every political extremist, religious fanatic and kook who had ever come to our attention. And one of the names that sprang into prominence was that of David Ferrie. When we checked him out, as we were doing with innumerable other suspicious characters, we discovered that on November 22nd he had traveled to Texas to go “duck hunting” and “ice skating. Well, naturally, this sparked our interest. We staked out his house and we questioned his friends, and when he came back — the first thing he did on his return, incidentally, was to contact a lawyer and then hide out for the night at a friend’s room in another town — we pulled him and his two companions in for questioning. The story of Ferrie’s activities that emerged was rather curious. He drove nine hours through a furious thunderstorm to Texas, then apparently gave up his plans to go duck hunting and instead went to an ice-skating rink in Houston and stood waiting beside a pay telephone for two hours; he never put the skates on. We felt his movements were suspicious enough to justify his arrest and that of his friends, and we took them into custody. When we alerted the FBI, they expressed interest and asked us to turn the three men over to them for questioning. We did, but Ferrie was released soon afterward and most of its report on him was classified top secret and secreted in the National Archives, where it will remain inaccessible to the public until September 2038 A.D. No one, including me, can see those pages.  

PLAYBOY: Why do you believe the FBI report on Ferrie is classified?  

GARRISON: For the same reason the President’s autopsy X rays and photos and other vital evidence in this case are classified — because they would indicate the existence of a conspiracy, involving former employees of the CIA, to kill the President.

PLAYBOY: When you resumed your investigation of Ferrie three years later, did you discover any new evidence?  

GARRISON: We discovered a whole mare’s-nest of underground activity involving the CIA, elements of the paramilitary right and militant anti-Castro exile groups. We discovered links between David Ferrie, Lee Oswald and Jack Ruby. We discovered, in short, what I had hoped not to find, despite my doubts about the Warren Commission — the existence of a well-organized conspiracy to assassinate John Kennedy, a conspiracy that came to fruition in Dallas on November 22, 1963, and in which David Ferrie played a vital role.  

PLAYBOY: Accepting for a moment your contention that there was a conspiracy to assassinate President John Kennedy, have you been able to discover who was involved — in addition to Ferrie — how it was done and why?  

GARRISON: Yes, I have. President Kennedy was killed for one reason: because he was working for a reconciliation with the U.S.S.R. and Castro’s Cuba. His assassins were a group of fanatic anti-Communists with a fusion of interests in preventing Kennedy from achieving peaceful relations with the Communist world. On the operative level of the conspiracy, you find anti-Castro Cuban exiles who never forgave Kennedy for failing to send in U.S. air cover at the Bay of Pigs and who feared that the thaw following the Missile Crisis in October 1962 augured the total frustration of their plans to liberate Cuba. They believed sincerely that Kennedy had sold them out to the Communists. On a higher, control level, you find a number of people of ultra-right-wing persuasion — not simply conservatives, mind you, but people who could be described as neo-Nazi, including a small clique that had defected from the Minutemen because it considered the group “too liberal.” These elements had their canteens ready and their guns loaded; they lacked only a target. After Kennedy’s domestic moves toward racial integration and his attempts to forge a peaceful foreign policy, as exemplified by his signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, they found that target. So, both of these groups had a vital stake in changing U.S. foreign policy — ideological on the part of the paramilitary rightists and both ideological and personal with the anti-Castro exiles, many of whom felt they would never see their homes again if Kennedy’s policy of détente was allowed to succeed. The CIA was involved with both of these groups. In the New Orleans area, where the conspiracy was hatched, the CIA was training a mixed bag of Minutemen, Cuban exiles, and other anti-Castro adventurers north of Lake Pontchartrain for a foray into Cuba and an assassination attempt on Fidel Castro. David Ferrie, who operated on the “command” level of the ultra-rightists, was deeply involved in this effort. The CIA itself apparently did not take the détente too seriously until the late summer of 1963, because it maintained its financing and training of anti-Castro adventurers. There was, in fact, a triangulation of CIA-supported anti-Castro activity between Dallas — where Jack Ruby was involved in collecting guns and ammunition for the underground — and Miami and New Orleans, where most of the training was going on. But then, Kennedy, who had signed a secret agreement with Khrushchev after the Missile Crisis pledging not to invade Cuba if Russia would soft-pedal Castro’s subversive activities in the Americas, began to crackdown on CIA operations against Cuba. As a result, on July 31, 1963, the FBI raided the headquarters of the group of Cuban exiles and Minutemen training north of Lake Pontchartrain and confiscated all their guns and ammunition — despite the fact that the operation had the sanction of the CIA. This action may have sealed Kennedy’s fate.   By the early fall of 1963, Kennedy’s plan for a détente with Cuba was in high gear. Ambassador William Attwood, a close personal friend of the late President, recounts that a thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations was definitely in the works at this time and “the President more than the State Department was interested in exploring the [Cuban] overture.” One of the intermediaries between Castro and Kennedy was the late television commentator Lisa Howard, who met secretly with Ernesto Che Guevara to prepare peace terms between the U.S. and Castro. Miss Howard was arranging a conference between Bobby Kennedy and Guevara when the President was shot in Dallas. In a United Nations speech on October 7, 1963, Adlai Stevenson set forth the possibility of a termination of hostilities between the two countries, and on November 19th. Presidential aide McGeorge Bundy, who was acting as an intermediary in the secret discussions, told Ambassador Attwood that the President wanted to discuss his plans for a Cuban American détente in depth with him right after “a brief trip to Dallas.” The rest is history. One of the two heads of state involved in negotiating that detente is now dead, but the survivor, Fidel Castro, said on November 23rd that the assassination was the work of “elements in the U.S. opposed to peace,” and the Cuban Foreign Ministry officially charged that “the Kennedy assassination was a provocation against world peace perfectly and minutely prepared by the most reactionary sectors of the United States.” Most Americans at the time, myself included, thought this was just Communist propaganda. But Castro knew what he was talking about. A few weeks after the assassination, the Cuban ambassador to the UN, Dr. Carlos Lechuga, was instructed by Castro to begin “formal discussions” in the hope that Kennedy’s peace plan would be carried on by his successor. Ambassador Attwood writes that “I informed Bundy and later was told that the Cuban exercise would be put on ice for a while — which it was and where it has been ever since.” The assassins had achieved their aim.  

PLAYBOY: This is interesting speculation, but isn’t that all it is — speculation?

GARRISON: No, because we know enough about the key individuals involved in the conspiracy — Latins and Americans alike — to know that this was their motive for the murder of John Kennedy. First of all, you have to understand the mentality of these people. Take the Cuban exiles involved; here are men, some of whom survived the Bay of Pigs, who for years had been whipped up by the CIA into a frenzy of anti-Castro hatred and who had been solemnly assured by American intelligence agencies that they were going to liberate their homeland with American support. They had one disappointment after another — the Bay of Pigs debacle, the failure to invade Cuba during the Missile Crisis, the effective crushing of their underground in Cuba by Castro’s secret police. But they kept on hoping, and the CIA kept fanning their hopes. Then they listened to Kennedy’s famous speech at American University on June 10, 1963, where he really kicked off the new drive for a détente, and they heard the President of the country in which they’d placed all their hope saying we must make peace with the Communists, since “we both breathe the same air.” Well, this worries them, but the CIA continues financing and training their underground cadres, so there is still hope. And then suddenly, in the late summer of 1963, the CIA is forced by Presidential pressure to withdraw all funds and assistance from the Cuban exiles. Think of the impact of this, particularly on the group here in New Orleans, which had been trained for months to make an assassination attempt on Castro and then found itself coolly jettisoned by its benefactors in Washington. These adventurers were worked up to a fever pitch; and when the CIA withdrew its support and they couldn’t fight Castro, they picked their next victim — John F. Kennedy. That, in a nutshell, is the genesis of the assassination. President Kennedy died because he wanted peace.  

PLAYBOY: How many people do you claim were involved in this alleged conspiracy?  

GARRISON: Too many for their own security. If they had let fewer men in on the plot, we might never have stumbled onto it. But let me add one additional point here: The brief account I’ve just given you shouldn’t be construed to indicate that any of the legitimate anti-Castro organizations were involved in the assassination — or that all Minutemen were implicated. Nor should the fact that there was a conspiracy from the paramilitary right be used to start a witch-hunt against conservatives in general, any more than Oswald’s phony pro-Communist record should have been used to purge leftists from our national life. In this case, the very terminology of “right” and “left,” which is essentially an economic definition, has little validity as a description of those fanatic war lovers who were ready to assassinate a President because he worked for peace. If you go far enough to either extreme of the political spectrum, Communist or fascist, you’ll find hard-eyed men with guns who believe that anybody who doesn’t think as they do should be incarcerated or exterminated. The assassination was less an ideological exercise than the frenzied revenge of a sick element in our society on a man who exemplified health and decency.  

PLAYBOY: You’ve outlined the genesis of the alleged conspiracy as you see it. Will you now tell us how it was carried out — and by whom?  

GARRISON: I won’t be able to name names in all instances, because we’re building cases against a number of the individuals involved. But I’ll give you a brief sketch of how the conspiracy was organized, and then point by point we can go into the participants we know about so far and the role we believe each played. Let me stress at the outset that what I’m going to tell you is not idle speculation; we have facts, documents, and reliable eyewitness testimony to corroborate much of it — though I can’t lay all this evidence before you without jeopardizing the investigation. But there are many pieces of the jigsaw puzzle still missing. Not one of the conspirators has confessed his guilt, so we don’t yet have an “inside” view of all the pre-assassination planning. In order to fill in these gaps for you, I’ll have to indulge in a bit of informed deduction and surmise. It may sound melodramatic, but you can best envisage the plot as a spider’s web. At the center sit the organizers of the operation, men with close ties to U.S. and western-European intelligence agencies. One of them is a former associate of Jack Ruby in gun-smuggling activities and a dedicated neo-Nazi in close contact with neo-fascist movements in Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy. Radiating out from these key men, the strands of the web include a motley group of political adventurers united only in their detestation of Kennedy and their dedication to the reversal of his foreign policy. One such man was David Ferrie. Another member of this group is an individual who deliberately impersonated Lee Oswald before the assassination in order to incriminate him: we believe we know his identity. Several others, about whom we have evidence indicating that they helped supply weapons to the plotters, were the right-wing extremists I mentioned earlier who broke off from a fanatic paramilitary group because it was becoming “too liberal.” Also involved is a band of anti-Castro adventurers who functioned on the second, or “operative,” level of the conspiracy. These men include two Cuban exiles, one of whom failed a lie-detector test when he denied knowing in advance that Kennedy was going to be killed or having seen the weapons to be used in the assassination — and a number of men who fired at the President from three directions on November 22nd. The link between the “command” level and the Cuban exiles was an amorphous group called the Free Cuba Committee, which with CIA sanction had begun training north of Lake Pontchartrain for an assassination attempt on Fidel Castro, as I mentioned earlier. It was this group that was raided by the FBI on July 31st, 1963, and temporarily put out of commission. Our information indicates that it was shortly after this setback that the group switched direction and decided to assassinate John Kennedy instead of Fidel Castro, after the “betrayal” of the Bay of Pigs disaster. That’s it in a nutshell, but I think the development of the conspiracy will become clearer if you ask me one by one about the individuals involved.  

PLAYBOY: All right, let’s begin with Clay Shaw. What was his role in the alleged conspiracy?  

GARRISON: I’m afraid I can’t comment even inferentially on anything pertaining to the evidence against Mr. Shaw, since he’s facing trial in my jurisdiction.  

PLAYBOY: Can you answer a charge about your case against him? On March second of this year, shortly after Shaw’s arrest, Attorney General Ramsey Clark announced that Shaw “was included in an investigation in November and December of 1963 and on the evidence that the FBI has, there was no connection found between Shaw and the President’s assassination.” Why do you challenge the Attorney General’s statement?  

GARRISON: Because it was not true. The FBI did not clear Clay Shaw after the assassination. You don’t have to take my word for it; The New York Times reported on June third that “The Justice Department said today that Clay Shaw. New Orleans businessman, was not investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation … The statement contradicted Attorney General Ramsey Clark … A Justice Department spokesman said that Mr. Clark’s statement last March second was in error.” Now, the Attorney General’s attempt to whitewash Shaw via the FBI, as you pointed out, was made immediately after our office arrested him, and it really constituted the first salvo of the propaganda barrage laid down against us. The natural reaction of many people across the country to Clark’s statement, which was carried prominently on TV and in the press was, “Well, if the FBI cleared him, there can’t be anything to this whole conspiracy business.” Most defendants have to wait for trial before they’re allowed to produce character witnesses. When, three months later, the Justice Department finally admitted Clark was “in error,” the story appeared in only a few newspapers and wasn’t picked up by the radio or TV networks. But what was even more significant about the Justice Department’s attempt to bail out Shaw was the fact that the day after Clark’s statement, The New York Times’ Washington correspondent. Robert B. Semple, Jr., reported that he had been told by an unnamed Justice Department spokesman that his agency was convinced “that Mr. Bertrand and Mr. Shaw were the same man” — and that was the reason Clark released his untrue story about the FBI’s having cleared Shaw! In other words, knowing that our case was based on fact, the Justice Department deliberately dragged a red herring across the trail.  

PLAYBOY: Are you free to discuss Oswald’s role in the conspiracy?  

GARRISON: Yes, but before you can understand Oswald’s role in the plot, you’ve got to jettison the image of him as a “self-proclaimed Marxist” that the mass media inculcated in the public consciousness after his arrest on November 22nd. Oswald’s professed Marxist sympathies were just a cover for his real activities. I don’t believe there are any serious students of the assassination who don’t recognize that Oswald’s actual political orientation was extreme right wing. His associates in Dallas and New Orleans — apart from his CIA contacts — were exclusively right wing, some covert, others overt: in fact, our office has positively identified a number of his associates as neo-Nazis. Oswald would have been more at home with Mein Kampf than Das Kapital.  

PLAYBOY: If Oswald wasn’t a leftist, what motivation would he have had for shooting at another right-winger, Major General Edwin Walker, eight months before the assassination  

GARRISON: If he did it, his motive — which is to say the motive of those behind him — was a simple one: to ensure that after the assassination, people would ask this very question and assume that because Oswald had shot at General Walker, he must have been a left-winger. It was just another part of Oswald’s cover; if you defect to Russia, pass out pro-Castro leaflets on street corners and take a pot shot at General Walker, who on earth would doubt you’re a Communist? Of course, if you really look deeply into this incident, there is no real proof that Oswald was the man who did it; the whole charge rests on the unsupported testimony of Marteaua Oswald, after she had been threatened with deportation if she didn’t “cooperate.” It makes little difference, though, whether this incident was prepared in advance to create a cover for Oswald or fabricated after the assassination to strengthen his public image as a Marxist. But we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves. Let’s backtrack a bit to fill in the background of Oswald’s involvement in the conspiracy. After “defecting” to Russia, where he served as an agent for the CIA — perhaps this is where his knowledge about the U-2 becomes relevant — he returned to this country in June 1962, lived in Fort Worth and Dallas until April 1963, and then went to New Orleans, where he resumed his friendship with David Ferrie, whom he had met several years before when he belonged to a Civil Air Patrol unit led by Ferrie. We have evidence that Oswald maintained his CIA contracts throughout this period and that Ferrie was also employed by the CIA. In this regard, we will present in court a witness — formerly a CIA courier — who met both Ferrie and Oswald officially in their CIA connection. Parenthetically, Ferrie gave his name as Ferris to this witness — a name recorded without further explanation in Jack Ruby’s address book. In 1963, Ferrie and Oswald worked together closely. They were two of the organizers of the group of anti-Castro exiles and Minutemen who trained north of Lake Pontchartrain for a foray into Cuba to assassinate Castro — the venture that changed direction in the summer of 1963 and chose John Kennedy as its new victim. Toward this end — for reasons that will become clear — it became Oswald’s role to establish his public identity as a Marxist. It appears that it was with this plan in mind that Oswald was sent to Mexico City in order to get a visa for travel to Cuba, where he planned to solidify his Marxist image, perhaps by making himself conspicuous with a few incendiary anti-Kennedy speeches, and then return to Dallas in time for the assassination. However, this end of the plot was frustrated because the Soviet and Cuban intelligence services apparently had Oswald pegged as an intelligence agent, and he was refused visas at both embassies. Another way in which Oswald tried to establish his procommunism was by setting up a letterhead Fair Play for Cuba Committee — of which he was the only member — and distributing on street corners leaflets praising Castro. He made two blunders here, however. First, one of the men helping him hand out leaflets was a fanatic anti-Castro Cuban exile whom we’ve subsequently identified from TV footage of a street incident. Second, Oswald “blew his cover” by using the wrong address for his phony New Orleans Fair Play for Cuba Committee.  

PLAYBOY: Will you elaborate on this second point?  

GARRISON: Yes, because this incident ties together some of the strands of the spider’s web. At the time Oswald started his so-called Fair Play for Cuba Committee, two men — Hugh Ward and Guy Banister — operated a private investigative agency at 544 Camp Street in downtown New Orleans. There are some intriguing aspects to their operation. For one thing, Guy Banister was one of the most militant right-wing anti-Communists in New Orleans. He was a former FBI official and his headquarters at 544 Camp Street was a clearinghouse for Cuban exile and paramilitary right-wing activities. Specifically, he allowed his office to be used as a mail drop for the anti-Castro Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front; police intelligence records at the time reported that this group was “legitimate in nature and presumably had the unofficial sanction of the Central Intelligence Agency.” It did. Banister also published a newsletter for his clients that included virulent anti-Kennedy polemics. My office also has evidence that Banister had intimate ties with the Office of Naval Intelligence and the CIA. Both Banister and Ward were deeply involved in covert anti-Castro exile activities in New Orleans. Banister in particular seemed to have had an almost messianic drive to fight communism in every country in Latin America; and he was naturally of value to Cuban exiles because of his intimate connections with American intelligence agencies. In the Ramparts article you mentioned earlier, ex-FBI agent Bill Turner revealed that both Banister and Ward were listed in secret Minutemen files as members of the Minutemen and operatives of a group called the Anti-Communism League of the Caribbean, which was allegedly used by the CIA in the overthrow of the Guatemalan government in 1954. So, in other words, these are the last guys in the world you’d expect to find tied up with left-wing or pro-Castro activities. Right? And yet, when Lee Harvey Oswald set up his fictitious branch of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans, he distributed leaflets giving the committee’s address as 544 Camp Street — Guy Banister’s office! Somebody must have pointed out to Oswald shortly afterward that he was endangering his cover by using this address, because he subsequently changed it to 4907 Magazine Street. But it’s certainly significant that at the inception of his public role as a pro-Castro activist, Oswald was utilizing the mailbox of the most militantly conservative and anti-Communist outfit in the city. I might add that we have several witnesses who will testify in court that they saw Oswald hanging out at 544 Camp Street. I want to stress, however, that I have no evidence that Banister and Ward were involved in the plot to kill Kennedy. Their office was a kind of way station for anti-Castro and right-wing extremists passing through New Orleans, and it’s perfectly possible that they were completely unaware of the conspiracy being hatched by men like Ferrie and Oswald.

PLAYBOY: Were any of the other figures in the alleged conspiracy connected with Banister?  

GARRISON: Yes, David Ferrie was a paid investigator for Banister, and the two men knew each other very well. During 1962 and 1963, Ferrie spent a good deal of time at 544 Camp Street and he made a series of mysterious long-distance phone calls to Central America from Banister’s office. We have a record of those calls.  

PLAYBOY: Where are Banister and Ward now?  

GARRISON: Both have died since the assassination — Banister of a heart attack in 1964 and Ward when the plane he was piloting for New Orleans Mayor De Lesseps Morrison crashed in Mexico in 1964. De Lesseps Morrison, as it happened, had introduced Clay Shaw to President Kennedy on an airplane flight in 1963.  

PLAYBOY: Do you believe there was anything sinister about the crash that killed both Morrison and Ward?  

GARRISON: I have no reason to believe there was anything sinister about the crash, though rumors always spring up in a case like this. The only thing I will say is that witnesses in this case do have a habit of dying at the most inconvenient times. I understand a London insurance firm has prepared an actuarial chart on the likelihood of 20 of the people involved in this case dying within three years of the assassination — and found the odds 30 trillion to one. But I’m sure NBC will shortly discover that one of my investigators bribed the computer.  

PLAYBOY: Was Oswald involved with paramilitary activists and anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Dallas, as well as in New Orleans?  

GARRISON: Oh, God, yes. In fact, many of his New Orleans contacts overlap with those in Dallas. Jack Ruby, who played a key role in smuggling guns to the anti-Castro underground — on behalf of the CIA — was one of Oswald’s contacts in Dallas. Furthermore, Oswald was virtually surrounded by White Russians in Dallas, some of whom were CIA employees. Moreover, some of Oswald’s anti-Castro friends from Miami and New Orleans showed up in Dallas in October of 1963. In a “Supplementary Investigation Report” filed on November 23, 1963, by Dallas policeman Buddy Walthers, an aide to Sheriff Bill Decker, Walthers stated: “I talked to Sorrels, the head of the Dallas Secret Service, I was advised that for the past few months at a house at 3128 Harlandale, some Cubans had been having meetings on the weekends and were possibly connected with the Freedom for Cuba Party of which Oswald was a member.” No attention was paid to Walther’s report, and on November 26th, he complained: “I don’t know what action the Secret Service has taken, but I learned today that some time between seven days before the President was shot and the day after he was shot, these Cubans moved from this house. My informant stated that subject Oswald had been to this house before.” This was the last that was ever heard of the mysterious Cubans at 3128 Harlandale. A significant point in Walthers’ report is his mention of the Freedom for Cuba Party. This appears to be a corruption of the anti-Castro Free Cuba Committee of which Oswald, Ferrie and a small cadre of neo-Nazis — including the man we believe was the “second Oswald” — were members. You may remember that on the night of the assassination, Dallas D.A. Henry Wade called a press conference and at one point referred to Oswald as a member of the “Free Cuba Committee” instead of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Jack Ruby, who just happened to be there, promptly chimed in to correct him. Ruby was obviously in the jail that night on a dry run prior to his successful murder of Oswald on Sunday — a possibility the Warren Commission never bothered to consider — and could hardly have been eager to draw attention to himself. However, he must have been afraid that if the press reported Oswald was a member of the “Free Cuba Committee,” somebody might begin an investigation of that group and discover its anti-Castro and ultra-right-wing orientation. And so he risked his cover to set the record straight and protect his fellow conspirators.  

PLAYBOY: In regard to Oswald’s role in the conspiracy, you have said that “he was a decoy at first and then he was a patsy and then he was a victim.” Would you explain what you meant by that?  

GARRISON: Oswald’s role in the proposed assassination of Kennedy, as far as he seems to have known, was strictly political: not to fire a gun but — for reasons that may not have been explained to him by his superiors at their planning sessions — to establish his left-wing bona fides so unshakably that after the assassination, quite possibly unbeknownst to him, the President’s murder would appear to be the work of a sharpshooting left-wing fanatic and thus allow the other plotters, including the men who actually shot Kennedy, to escape police attention and flee Dallas. Though he may not have known why he was instructed to do so, this was undoubtedly why he got the job at the Texas School Book Depository Building; we’ve learned that one of the members of the conspiracy was in a position to learn from perfectly innocent Dallas business contacts the route of the Presidential motorcade more than a month before Kennedy’s visit. The conspirators — more than probably not including Oswald — knew this would place him on the scene and convince the world that a demented Marxist was the real assassin.  

PLAYBOY: Even if Oswald was unaware of his role as a decoy, didn’t he suspect that he might be double-crossed by his co-conspirators?  

GARRISON: We have uncovered substantial evidence that he was influenced and manipulated rather easily by his older and more sophisticated superiors in the conspiracy, and it’s probable that he trusted them more than he distrusted them. But even if the opposite were true, I think he would have done what he was told.

PLAYBOY: Even if he suspected that he might be arrested and convicted as the President’s assassin?  

GARRISON: As I said, I don’t think it’s likely that he was aware of his role as a decoy. But even if he was, it’s probable that he would have been given some cock-and-bull assurances about being richly rewarded and smuggled out of the country after Kennedy’s death. But it’s even more probable, in my opinion — if he did know the true nature of his role — that he wouldn’t have felt the necessity to escape. He would have known that no jury in the world — even in Dallas — would have been able to find him guilty of the assassination on the strength of such transparently contrived circumstantial evidence.  

PLAYBOY: That’s debatable. But even if Oswald had been brought to trial for and acquitted of the assassination, what reason would he have had to believe that he would also be exonerated of involvement in the conspiracy — which you’ve admitted yourself?  

GARRISON: I don’t want to evade your question, but I can’t answer it without compromising my investigation of a crucial new area of the conspiracy. I’m afraid I can’t discuss it until we’ve built a solid case. I can say, however, that whatever his knowledge of his role as a decoy, he definitely didn’t know about his role as a patsy until after the assassination. At 12:45 P.M. on November 22nd, the Dallas police had broadcast a wanted bulletin for Oswald — over a half hour before Tippit was shot and at a time when there was absolutely no evidence linking Oswald to the assassination. The Dallas police have never been able to explain who transmitted this wanted notice or on what evidence it was based; and the Warren Commission brushed aside the whole matter as unimportant. I think it’s obvious that the conspirators tipped off the police, probably anonymously, in the hope — subsequently realized — that all attention would henceforth be focused on Oswald and the heat would be taken off other members of the plot. We have evidence that the plan was to have him shot as a cop killer in the Texas Theater “while resisting arrest.” I can’t go into all the details on this, but the murder of Tippit, which I am convinced Oswald didn’t commit, was clearly designed to set the stage for Oswald’s liquidation in the Texas Theater after another anonymous tip-off. But here the plotters miscalculated, and Oswald was not shot to death but was merely roughed up and rushed off to the Dallas jail — where, you may remember, he shouted to reporters as the police dragged him through the corridors on November 22nd: “I didn’t kill anyone — I’m being made a patsy.” The conspiracy had gone seriously awry and the plotters were in danger of exposure by Oswald. Enter Jack Ruby — and exit Oswald. So, first Oswald was a decoy, next a patsy and finally — in the basement of the Dallas jail on November 24, 1963 — a victim.

PLAYBOY: Even if Oswald was a scapegoat in the alleged conspiracy, why do you believe he couldn’t also have been one of those who shot at the President?  

GARRISON: If there’s one thing the Warren Commission and its 26 volumes of supportive evidence demonstrate conclusively, it’s that Lee Harvey Oswald did not shoot John Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Of course, the Commission concluded not only that Oswald fired at the President but that he was a marksman, that he had enough time to “fire three shots, with two hits, within 4.8 and 5.6 seconds,” that his Mannlicher-Carcano was an accurate rifle, etc. — but all these conclusions are actually in direct contradiction of the evidence within the Commission’s own 26 volumes. By culling and coordinating that evidence, the leading critics of the Commission have proved that Oswald was a mediocre shot; that the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle he allegedly used was about the crummiest weapon on the market today; that its telescopic sight was loose and had to be realigned before Commission experts could fire it; that the 20-year-old ammunition he would have had to use could not have been relied on to fire accurately, if at all; that the rifle quite possibly was taken from Oswald’s home after the assassination and planted in the Depository; that the Commission’s own chronology of Oswald’s movements made it highly implausible for him to fire three shots, wipe the rifle clear of fingerprints — there were none found on it — hide the rifle under a stack of books and rush down four flights of stairs to the second floor, all in the few seconds it took Roy Truly and Officer Marion Baker to rush in from the street after the shots and encounter Oswald standing beside the vending machine in the employees’ cafeteria. I could cite additional evidence proving that Oswald didn’t fire a rifle from the sixth floor of the Depository, but it would just be a recapitulation of the excellent books of the critics, to which I refer your readers. There are a number of factors that we’ve examined independently during the course of our investigation that also prove Oswald didn’t shoot at the President. For one thing, the nitrate test administered to Oswald on the day of the assassination clearly exonerated him of having fired a rifle within the past 24 hours. He had nitrates on both hands, but no nitrates on his cheek — which means it was impossible for him to have fired a rifle. The fact that he had nitrates on both hands is regarded in the nitrate test as a sign of innocence; it’s the same as having nitrates on neither hand. This is because so many ordinary objects leave traces of nitrate on the hands. You’re smoking a cigar, for example — tobacco contains nitrate; so, if you were tested right now, you’d have nitrate on your right hand but not on your left. I’m smoking a pipe, which I interchange between my hands, so I’ll have traces of nitrate on both hands but not on my cheeks. The morning of the assassination, Oswald was moving crates in a newly painted room, which was likely to have left traces of nitrate on both his hands. Now, of course, if the nitrate test had proved positive, and Oswald did have nitrate on one hand and on his cheek, that would still not constitute proof positive that he’d fired a gun, because the nitrates could have been left by a substance other than gunpowder. But the fact that he had no nitrate whatsoever on his cheek is ineluctable proof that he never fired a rifle that day. If he had washed his face to remove the nitrate before the test was administered, there would have been none on his hands either — unless he was in the habit of washing with gloves on. This was a sticky problem for the Warren Commission, but they resolved it with their customary aplomb. An expert was dug up who testified that in a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, the chamber is so tight that no nitrates are emitted upon firing; and the Commission used this testimony to dismiss the whole subject. However, the inventor of the nitrate test subsequently tested the Mannlicher-Carcano and found that it did leave nitrate traces. He was not called to testify by the Warren Commission. So, the nitrate test alone is incontrovertible proof that Oswald did not fire a rifle on November 22nd. We’ve also found some new evidence that shows that Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano was not the only weapon discovered in the Depository Building after the assassination. I recently traveled to New York for a conference with Richard Sprague, a brilliant man who’s been independently researching technical aspects of the assassination, and he showed me a hitherto unpublicized collection of film clips from a motion picture taken of the assassination and its aftermath. Part of the film, shot shortly after one P.M., shows the Dallas police carrying the assassination weapon out of the Book Depository. They stop for the photographers and an officer holds the rifle up above his head so that the inquisitive crowd can look at it. There’s just one little flaw here: This rifle does not have a telescopic sight, and thus cannot be Oswald’s rifle. This weapon was taken from the building approximately 20 minutes before Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano was “discovered” — or planted — on the premises. To sum up: Oswald was involved in the conspiracy; shots were fired at Kennedy from the Depository but also from the grassy knoll and apparently from the Dal-Tex Building as well — but not one of them was fired by Lee Harvey Oswald, and not one of them from his Mannlicher-Carcano.

PLAYBOY: If Oswald didn’t shoot President Kennedy from the sixth-floor window of the Book Depository, who did?  

GARRISON: Our office has developed evidence that the President was assassinated by a precision guerrilla team of at least seven men, including anti-Castro adventurers and members of the paramilitary right. Of course, the Ministry of Truth concluded — by scrupulously ignoring the most compelling evidence and carefully selecting only those facts that conformed to its preconceived thesis of a lone assassin — that “no credible evidence suggests that the shots were fired from … any place other than the Texas School Book Depository Building.” But anyone who takes the time to read the Warren Report will find that of the witnesses in Dealey Plaza who were able to assess the origin of the shots, almost two thirds said they came from the grassy-knoll area in front and to the right of the Presidential limousine and not from the Book Depository, which was to the rear of the President. A number of reliable witnesses testified that they heard shots ring out from behind the picket fence and saw a puff of smoke drift into the air. Additional evidence supporting this can be found in the Zapruder film published in Life, which reveals that the President was slammed backward by the impact of a bullet; unless you abrogate Newton’s third law of motion, this means the President was shot from the front. Also — though they were contradicted later — several of the doctors at Parkland Hospital who examined the President’s neck wound contended it was an entrance wound, which would certainly tend to indicate that Kennedy was shot from the front. In the course of our investigation, we’ve uncovered additional evidence establishing absolutely that there were at least four men on the grassy knoll, at least two behind the picket fence and two or more behind a small stone wall to the right of the fence. As I reconstruct it from the still-incomplete evidence in our possession, one man fired at the President from each location, while the role of his companion was to snatch up the cartridges as they were ejected. Parenthetically, a book on firearms characteristics was found in Ferrie’s apartment. It was filled with underlining and marginal notations, and the most heavily annotated section was one describing the direction and distance a cartridge travels from a rifle after ejection. Scribbled on a bookmark in this section, in Ferrie’s handwriting, were the figures, not mentioned in the text, “50° and 11 feet” — which indicates the possibility that Ferrie had test-fired a rifle and plotted the distance from the gunman to where the ejected cartridges would fall. But to return to the scene of the crime, it seems virtually certain that the cartridges, along with the rifles, were then thrown into the trunk of a car — parked directly behind the picket fence — which was driven from the scene some hours after the assassination. If there had been a thorough search of all vehicles in the vicinity of the grassy knoll immediately after the assassination, this incriminating evidence might have been uncovered — along with the real authors of the President’s murder. In addition to the assassins on the grassy knoll, at least two other men fired from behind the President, one from the Book Depository Building — not Oswald — and one, in all probability, from the Dal-Tex Building. As it happens, a man was arrested right after the assassination as he left the Dal-Tex Building and was taken away in a patrol car, but like the three other men detained after the assassination — one in the railroad yard behind the grassy knoll, one on the railroad overpass farther down the parade route, and one in front of the Book Depository Building — he then dropped out of sight completely. All of these suspects taken into custody after the assassination remain as anonymous as if they’d been detained for throwing a candy wrapper on the sidewalk. We have also located another man — in green combat fatigues — who was not involved in the shooting but created a diversionary action in order to distract people’s attention from the snipers. This individual screamed, fell to the ground, and simulated an epileptic fit, drawing people away from the vicinity of the knoll just before the President’s motorcade reached the ambush point. So, you have at least seven people involved, with four firing at the President and catching him in a crossfire — just as the assassins had planned at the meeting in David Ferrie’s apartment in September. It was a precision operation and was carried out coolly and with excellent coordination; the assassins even kept in contact by radio. The President, of course, had no chance. It was an overkill operation. As far as the actual sequence of shots goes, you’ll remember that the Warren Commission concluded that only three bullets were fired at the President — one that hit just below the back of his neck, exited through his throat and then passed through Governor Connally’s body; one that missed; and one that blew off a portion of the President’s skull and killed him. Like most of the other conclusions of the Commission, this one contradicts both the evidence and the testimony of eyewitnesses. The initial shot hit the President in the front of the neck, as the Parkland Hospital doctors recognized — though they were later contradicted by the military physicians at the Bethesda autopsy, and by the Warren Report. The second shot struck the President in the back; the location of this wound can be verified not by consulting the official autopsy report — on which the Commission based its conclusion that this bullet hit Kennedy in the back of the neck and exited from his throat — but by perusing the reports filed by two FBI agents who were present at the President’s autopsy in Bethesda, Maryland. Both stated unequivocally that the bullet in question entered President Kennedy’s back and did not continue through his body. I also refer you to a photograph of the President’s shirt taken by the FBI, and to a drawing of the President’s back wound made by one of the examining physicians at Bethesda; the location of the wound in both cases corresponds exactly — more than three inches below the President’s neck. Yet the Commission concluded that this wound occurred in this neck. This, of course, was to make it more believable that the same bullet had exited from the President’s throat and slanted on down through Governor Connally. Even if this bullet had entered where the Commission claims and then exited from the President’s throat, it would have been possible for it to enter Governor Connally’s upper back at a downward angle, exit from his lower chest and lodge finally in his thigh — fired, as the Commission says it was, from the elevation of the sixth-floor window of the Book Depository — only if Connally had been sitting in the President’s lap or if the bullet had described two 90-degree turns on its way from President Kennedy’s throat to Governor Connally’s back. Clearly, the President’s throat wound was caused by the first shot, this one from the grassy knoll in front of the limousine; and his back wound came from the rear. I’ve already given you my reasons for reaching this conclusion.  

PLAYBOY: If the first bullet was fired from the front, why wasn’t it found in the President’s body, or somewhere in the Presidential limousine?

GARRISON: The exact nature of the President’s wounds, as well as the disposition of the bullets or bullet fragments, are among the many concealed items in this case. I told you earlier about the men on the grassy knoll whose sole function we believe was to catch the cartridges as they were ejected from the assassins’ rifles. We also have reason to suspect that other members of the conspiracy may have been assigned the job of removing other evidence — such as traceable bullet fragments — that might betray the assassins. In the chaos of November 22nd, this would not have been as difficult as it sounds. We know that a bullet, designated Exhibit number 399 by the Warren Commission, was planted on a stretcher in Parkland Hospital to incriminate Oswald. The Commission concluded that this bullet allegedly hit both Kennedy and Governor Connally, causing seven wounds and breaking three bones — and emerged without a dent! In subsequent ballistics tests with the same gun, every bullet was squashed completely out of shape from impact with various simulated human targets. So, if the conspirators could fabricate a bullet, they could easily conceal one. But to return to the sequence of shots: Governor Connally was struck by a third bullet — as he himself insisted, not the one that struck Kennedy in the back — also fired from the rear. A fourth shot missed the Presidential limousine completely and struck the curb along the south side of Main Street, disintegrating into fragments; the trajectory of this bullet has been plotted backward to a point of origin in the Dal-Tex Building. The fifth shot, which struck the President in the right temple, tore off the top of his skull and snapped him back into his seat — a point overlooked by the Warren Commission — had to have been fired from the grassy knoll. There is also medical evidence indicating the likelihood that an additional head shot may have been fired. The report of Dr. Robert McClelland at Parkland Hospital, for example, states that “the cause of death was due to massive head and brain injury from a gunshot wound of the left temple.” And yet another shot may also have been fired; frames 208 to 211 of the Zapruder film, which were deleted from the Warren Report — presumably as irrelevant — reveal signs of stress appearing suddenly on the back of a street sign momentarily obstructing the view between the grassy knoll and the President’s car. These stress signs may very well have been caused by the impact of a stray bullet on the sign. We’ll never be sure about this, however, because the day after the assassination, the sign was removed and no one in Dallas seems to know what became of it. Some of the gunmen appear to have used frangible bullets, a variant of the dumdum bullet that is forbidden by the Geneva Treaty. Frangible bullets explode on impact into tiny fragments, as did the bullet that caused the fatal wound in the President’s head. Of course, frangible bullets are ideal in a political assassination, because they almost guarantee massive damage and assure that no tangible evidence will remain that ballistics experts could use to trace the murder weapon. I might also mention that frangible bullets cannot be fired from a Mannlicher-Carcano, such as the Commission concludes Oswald used to kill the President. Also parenthetically, this type of bullet was issued by the CIA for use in anti-Castro-exile raids on Cuba. In summation, there were at least five or six shots fired at the President from front and rear by at least four gunmen, assisted by several accomplices, two of whom probably picked up the cartridges and one of whom created a diversion to draw people’s eyes away from the grassy knoll. At this stage of events, Lee Harvey Oswald was no more than a spectator to the assassination — perhaps in a very literal sense. As the first shot rang out, Associated Press photographer James Altgens snapped a picture of the motorcade that shows a man with a remarkable resemblance to Lee Harvey Oswald — same hairline, same face shape — standing in the doorway of the Book Depository Building. Somehow or other, the Warren Commission concluded that this man was actually Billy Nolan Lovelady, an employee of the Depository, who looked very little like Oswald. Furthermore, on the day of the assassination, Oswald was wearing a white T-shirt under a long-sleeved dark shirt opened halfway to his waist — the same outfit worn by the man in the doorway — but Lovelady said that on November 22nd he was wearing a short-sleeved, red-and-white-striped sport shirt buttoned near the neck. The Altgens photograph indicates the very real possibility that at the moment Oswald was supposed to have been crouching in the sixth-floor window of the Depository shooting Kennedy, he may actually have been standing outside the front door watching the Presidential motorcade.  

PLAYBOY: Between June 25th and 29th, CBS telecast a series of four special shows revealing the findings of the network’s own seven-month investigation of the assassination. CBS agreed with the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Oswald was the assassin, that he acted alone and that only three shots were fired; but it theorized that the first shot was fired earlier than the Warren Commission believed, thus giving Oswald sufficient time to fire three well-aimed shots at the President with his Mannlicher-Carcano — and overcoming the implausibility of the Commission’s conclusion that he had scored two hits out of three shots in only 5.6 seconds. Don’t you consider this a logical explanation of the discrepancies in the Commission’s time sequence?  

GARRISON: I’m afraid it’s neither logical nor an explanation. In case your readers aren’t familiar with all the ramifications of this question, the Commission’s entire lone-assassin theory rests on the fact that all three shots were fired, as you point out, within a period of 5.6 seconds. Now, the film taken of the assassination by Abraham Zapruder proves that a maximum of 1.8 seconds elapsed between the time Kennedy was first hit and Governor Connally was hit — this is crystal clear from their own reactions — but it requires 2.3 seconds just to work the bolt on a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. To escape this dilemma, the Commission produced the magical bullet, Exhibit 399, which I referred to earlier. Apart from the pristine condition of 399, the whole-time sequence was the weakest link in the Commission’s shaky chain of evidence, and CBS seems to have taken it upon its shoulders to resolve the problem by inventing a new time sequence. What they did was to have a photo analyst, Charles Wyckoff, examine the Zapruder film and find that certain frames were blurred. Wyckoff arbitrarily decided that these blurs were caused by Zapruder’s physical reaction to the sound of shots ringing out — although by the same logic, Zapruder could just have sneezed. Now, the Warren Commission had concluded that Kennedy would not have been visible to Oswald until Frame 210 of the Zapruder film; until then, he was obscured by an oak tree — and was first hit in Frame 222 or 223. But Wyckoff detected a blur in the vicinity of Frame 186; and on the basis of this, CBS speculated that Zapruder heard a shot at Frame 186 — the first shot in CBS’ revised time schedule — which Oswald allegedly fired at Kennedy through the branches of the oak tree. CBS even speculated that the bullet lodged in the trunk of the oak tree and sent a team of men with metal detectors scurrying up it, but to no avail; the commentator explained that maybe someday more sophisticated detection devices would be developed and the bullet would be found. Sure. This scenario, of course, gave Oswald several extra seconds in which to take careful aim and fire his subsequent shots — and thus let the Commission off the hook. The only trouble here is that the people who conducted the CBS study — like most defenders of the Warren Report — didn’t do all of their homework. They forgot, or chose to ignore, that by the Commission’s own admission, the bullet that missed Kennedy — the second bullet in the Commission’s sequence — hit the curb on Main Street near the railroad underpass 100 yards ahead of the limousine, shattering into fragments and causing superficial wounds on the face of a bystander, James Tague. But the trajectory of any bullet fired from the sixth floor of the Depository through the branches of the oak tree is such that it could not conceivably hit within a city block of the underpass. So please excuse me if I’m not overwhelmed by the ineluctable logic of CBS’ presentation. And just let me add a footnote here: CBS made a great deal out of its assumption that the blurs on Zapruder’s film indicated a reflexive reaction to shots ringing out. But they never asked Zapruder about his statement to Secret Service agents after the assassination about the origin of the shots; along with the majority of the witnesses to the assassination, he said the shots came from the grassy knoll, on which he was standing — from behind the stone wall, which was only a few dozen feet from him, in the opposite direction from the Depository. Like the Warren Commission, CBS was scrupulously selective in its choice of evidence. Its broadcast wasn’t a hatchet job like the NBC show, but it was equally misleading and, however unintentionally, dishonest. I’m not imputing sinister motives to CBS; it appears that its greatest handicap was its own ignorance of the assassination.  

PLAYBOY: To return to your own investigation of the assassination: Have you discovered the identity of any of the conspirators you say were involved in the actual shooting?

  GARRISON: I don’t want to sound coy or evasive, but I’m afraid I can’t comment on that. All I can say is that this is an ongoing case and there will be more arrests.

PLAYBOY: Let’s move on to the events that followed the assassination. What reason do you have for believing that Oswald didn’t shoot Officer Tippit?

GARRISON: As I said earlier, the evidence we’ve uncovered leads us to suspect that two men, neither of whom was Oswald, were the real murderers of Tippit; we believe we have one of them identified. The critics of the Warren Report have pointed out that a number of the witnesses could not identify Oswald as the slayer, that several said the murderer was short and squat — Oswald was thin and medium height — and another said that two men were involved. The Warren Commission’s own chronology of Oswald’s movements also fails to allow him sufficient time to reach the scene of Tippit’s murder from the Book Depository Building. The clincher, as far as I’m concerned, is that four cartridges were found at the scene of the slaying. Now, revolvers do not eject cartridges, so when someone is shot, you don’t later find gratuitous cartridges strewn over the sidewalk — unless the murderer deliberately takes the trouble to eject them. We suspect that cartridges had been previously obtained from Oswald’s .38 revolver and left at the murder site by the real killers as part of the setup to incriminate Oswald. However, somebody slipped up there. Of the four cartridges found at the scene, two were Winchesters and two were Remingtons — but of the four bullets found in Officer Tippit’s body, three were Winchesters and one was a Remington! The last time I looked, the Remington-Peters Manufacturing Company was not in the habit of slipping Winchester bullets into its cartridges, nor was the Winchester-Western Manufacturing Company putting Remington bullets into its cartridges. I don’t believe that Oswald shot anybody on November 22nd — not the President and not Tippit. If our investigation in this area proves fruitful, I hope we will be able to produce in a court of law the two men who did kill Tippit.  

PLAYBOY: How do you explain the fact that the Warren Commission concluded that the bullets in Officer Tippit’s body had all been fired from “the revolver in the possession of Oswald at the time of his arrest, to the exclusion of all other weapons”?  

GARRISON: The Warren Commission’s conclusion was made in spite of the evidence and not because of it. To determine if Oswald’s gun had fired the bullets, it was necessary to call in a ballistics expert who would be able to tell if the lines and grooves on the bullets had a relation to the barrel of the revolver. The Commission called as its witness FBI ballistics expert Cortlandt Cunningham, and he testified, after an examination of the bullets taken from Tippit’s body, that it was impossible to determine whether or not these bullets had been fired from Oswald’s gun. Yet, on the basis of this expert testimony, the Warren Commission concluded with a straight face that the bullets were fired not only from Oswald’s gun but “to the exclusion of all other weapons.” They simply chose to ignore the fact that revolvers don’t eject cartridges and that the cartridges left so conveniently on the street didn’t match the bullets in Tippit’s body.  

PLAYBOY: You mentioned earlier that a so-called “second Oswald” had impersonated the real Lee Harvey Oswald before the assassination in an attempt to incriminate him. What proof do you have of this?

GARRISON: I hesitate to use the words “second Oswald,” because they tend to lend an additional fictional quality to a case that already makes Dr. No and Goldfinger look like auditors’ reports. However, it is true that before the assassination, a calculated effort was made to implicate Oswald in the events to come. A young man approximating Oswald’s description and using Oswald’s name — we believe we have discovered his identity — engaged in a variety of activities designed to create such a strong impression of Oswald’s instability and culpability in people’s minds that they would recall him as a suspicious character after the President was murdered. In one instance, a man went to an auto salesroom, gave his name as Lee Oswald, test-drove a car at 80 miles an hour — Oswald couldn’t drive — and, after creating an ineradicable impression on the salesman by his speeding, gratuitously remarked that he might go back to the Soviet Union and was expecting to come into a large sum of money. Parenthetically, the salesman who described this “second Oswald” was subsequently beaten almost to death by unknown assailants outside his showroom. He later fled Dallas and last year was found dead; it was officially declared a suicide. In another instance, this “second Oswald” visited a shooting range in Dallas and gave a virtuoso demonstration of marksmanship, hitting not only his own bull’s-eye but the bull’s-eyes of neighboring targets as well — thus leaving an unforgettable impression of his skill with a rifle. The real Oswald, of course, was a mediocre shot, and there is no evidence that he had fired a rifle since the day he left the Marteaues. Consequently, the fact that he couldn’t hit the side of a barn had to be offset, which accounts for the tableau at the rifle range. I could go on and on recounting similar instances, but there is no doubt that there was indeed a “second Oswald.” Now, the Warren Commission recognized that the individual involved in all these activities could not be Lee Oswald; but they never took the next step and inquired why these incidents of impersonation occurred so systematically prior to the assassination. As it turned out, of course, the organizers of the conspiracy needn’t have bothered to go to all this trouble of laying a false trail incriminating Oswald. They should have realized, since Oswald was a “self-proclaimed Marxist,” that it wasn’t necessary to produce any additional evidence to convict him in the eyes of the mass media; any other facts would simply be redundant in the face of such a convincing confession of guilt.  

PLAYBOY: You’ve given your reasons for believing that Oswald, despite his leftist “cover,” was involved with the conspirators and with the CIA. Do you have any evidence indicating that he was also connected with the FBI, as some critics of the Warren Report have alleged?  

GARRISON: Let me preface my answer by saying that I believe the FBI was not given the full picture of Oswald’s CIA involvement. I have nothing but respect for the Bureau and feel that if it weren’t for the FBI reports still available in the Commission exhibits, the door would have been closed forever. While the CIA has behaved like a cross between the Gestapo and the NKVD, the FBI has worked assiduously in many different areas and gathered facts that have proved of great value to those interested in uncovering the truth about the assassination. It isn’t the FBI’s fault that dozens of its reports have been classified top secret in the Archives by order of certain officials in the Department of Justice. The trouble I face today is that, after four years, not only are these documents unavailable but the trail has grown cold in many areas. Ruby is dead. Ferrie is dead. Many other witnesses with valuable information have either been murdered or fled the country.

  PLAYBOY: You still haven’t answered the question: Was Oswald involved with the FBI?  

GARRISON: Well, I just wanted to phrase my reply in such a manner that it wouldn’t be misconstrued as a broadside against the entire FBI. Oswald may have been a petty informer for the Bureau, receiving small sums of money in return for information about left-wing activities in the Dallas-New Orleans area. But I must stress that there is no indication of any connection between Oswald and the FBI with regard to the assassination, and that his position with the FBI was in no way analogous to his position with the CIA; the FBI retains hundreds, perhaps thousands of such informants across the country and is no more responsible for their over-all pattern of political activity than the Internal Revenue Service is responsible for the behavior of its confidential informants on tax-evasion matters. Oswald’s possible ties to the Bureau are never mentioned in the Warren Report, but a member of the Commission, Congressman Gerald Ford, revealed in his otherwise undistinguished book, Portrait of an Assassin, that the Commission was informed by Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr and Dallas D.A. Henry Wade that Oswald had been employed by the FBI as an informant since September of 1962; his salary, they revealed, was $200 a month and his FBI code number was 179. The Warren Commission acted promptly on this information from two responsible Texas officials: Chief Counsel Rankin told the members of the Commission that “We have a dirty rumor that is very bad for the Commission . . . and it is very damaging to the agencies that are involved in it and it must be wiped out insofar as it is possible to do so by the Commission.” The Commission then launched one of its typically thorough investigations: J. Edgar Hoover was asked if the alleged assassin of the President of the United States had been an employee of his; Mr. Hoover said “No”; and the Commission closed the case. If Congressman Ford hadn’t developed writer’s itch, we would never even have heard of the incident. Once again, the Commission made an unwise choice between tranquility and truth. There is also other evidence linking Oswald to the FBI — though, again, not in any conspiratorial context. A Dallas police investigative report dated February 17, 1964, describes a police interview with Mrs. Teofil Meller, a White Russian émigrée in Dallas who had befriended Oswald and Marteaua. Mrs. Meller revealed, according to the report, that “she saw the book Kapital, which was written by Karl Marx, during one of these visits at Oswald’s house and became very worried about it. Subject [Mr. Meller] said he checked with the FBI and they told him that Oswald was all right.” So here you have this “self-proclaimed Marxist,” who had defected to the Soviet Union, tried to renounce his American citizenship and was now allegedly active in pro-Castro activities, being given a clean bill of health by the FBI. It’s quite possible that this clean bill of health was originally issued by the State Department, which, in reply to an FBI request for information about Oswald’s activities in Russia — this was shortly after his “defection” — assured the Bureau that he was a solid citizen. So, I don’t see anything sinister in all of this, at least as far as the FBI is concerned. The Bureau has to obtain information on subversion and it’s going to get what it needs not from Rhodes scholars and divinity students but from apparently marginal figures like Lee Oswald with an entree into the political underworld.  

PLAYBOY: If you see nothing sinister in the FBI’s relationship with Oswald, why did you subpoena FBI agents Regis Kennedy and Warren De Brueys to testify before the New Orleans Parish grand jury?  

GARRISON: Regis Kennedy is one of the FBI agents who interrogated David Ferrie in November 1963, and I hoped to learn from him what information the Bureau had elicited from Ferrie. But on the instructions of our old friend Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Kennedy refused to answer the questions put to him by the grand jury on the grounds of executive privilege. Warren De Brueys is a former FBI agent based in New Orleans who also questioned Ferrie in 1963. Between 1961 and 1963, De Brueys was involved with anti-Castro exile activities in New Orleans and was seen frequently at meetings of the right-wing Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front. I’d like to find out the exact nature of De Brueys’ relationship with Lee Oswald. As long as Oswald was in New Orleans, so was De Brueys. When Oswald moved to Dallas, De Brueys followed him. After the assassination, De Brueys returned to New Orleans. This may all be coincidence, but I find it interesting that De Brueys refuses to cooperate with our office — significant and frustrating, because I feel he could shed considerable light on Oswald’s ties to anti-Castro groups.  

PLAYBOY: On March 23, 1967, you ordered the arrest of Gordon Novel as a material witness in the conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy, and you have subsequently sought his extradition from Ohio. What role do you believe Novel played in the alleged conspiracy?

GARRISON: I can’t go into all aspects of Novel’s activities, because we have a live case against him. Novel worked closely with David Ferrie and the anti-Castro Cuban exiles. In 1961, he raided a munitions bunker in Houma, Louisiana, with David Ferrie and a prominent anti-Castro exile leader, and the weapons seized were subsequently shipped by CIA agents to the counterrevolutionary underground in Cuba. He also worked for the Evergreen Advertising Agency in New Orleans, a CIA front that alerted anti-Castro agents to the date of the Bay of Pigs invasion by placing coded messages in radio commercials for Christmas trees. Novel himself was a paid employee of the CIA. As I mentioned earlier, Novel’s own lawyer, Stephen Plotkin, has admitted that his client is a CIA agent. On May 23, 1967, Plotkin was quoted in the New Orleans States-Item as saying that “his client served as an intermediary between the CIA and anti-Castro Cubans in New Orleans and Miami prior to the April 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.” And that same day, the Associated Press, which has hardly served as my press agent in this case, reported: “When Novel first fled from New Orleans, he headed straight for McLean, Virginia, which is the Central Intelligence Agency suburb. This is not surprising, because Gordon Novel was a CIA employee in the early Sixties.” There is no doubt that Gordon Novel was a CIA operative.

  PLAYBOY: If the CIA, as you charge, not only refuses to cooperate with you but has actively obstructed your investigation, how are you in a position to know about Novel’s activities on behalf of the Agency?  

GARRISON: The people of Louisiana pay my investigators to investigate. But in this specific instance, we’ve benefited by sheer luck. After Novel fled the city in March, my investigators, and the city police both scoured his apartment for evidence, but Novel appeared to have covered his trail pretty effectively. I’m afraid, in this case, we weren’t as efficient as two young girls who moved into Novel’s apartment a few weeks later and, during a thorough house cleaning, found a penciled rough draft of a letter under a strip of linoleum on the kitchen-sink drainboard. One of the girls gave it to her boyfriend, a student at Tulane University, and he in turn passed it on to one of his professors, who subsequently showed the letter to Hoke May, a reporter for the New Orleans States-Item. May had the letter examined by an independent handwriting analyst, Gilbert Fortier, who compared it with other samples of Novel’s writing and determined that the draft had been written by Novel — a fact that was confirmed by Novel’s attorney, who said that “everything in the letter as far as Novel is concerned is actually the truth.” This letter makes fascinating reading. It is addressed to a Mr. Weiss, Novel’s apparent superior in the CIA. Novel tells Weiss: “I took the liberty of writing you direct and apprising you of current situation expecting you to forward this through appropriate channels. Our connection and activity of that period involved individuals presently about to be indicted as conspirators in Mr. Garrison’s investigation.” Novel goes on to warn that my probe was in danger of exposing his ties to the Double-Chek Corporation in Miami, which the book The Invisible Government exposes as a CIA front that recruited pilots and saboteurs for the Bay of Pigs and subsequent anti-Castro adventures. Novel writes in the letter: “Mr. Garrison … is unaware of Double-Chek’s involvement in this matter but has strong suspicions.” He also adds that he lied to the FBI: “I have been questioned extensively by local FBI recently as to whether or not I was involved with Double-Chek’s parent holding corporation … My reply on five queries was negative. Bureau unaware of Double-Chek association in this matter.” The letter indicates that Novel was growing edgy, because he complains: “We have temporarily avoided one subpoena not to reveal Double-Chek activities … We want out of this thing before Thursday, 3/ — /67. Our attorneys have been told to expect another subpoena to appear and testify on this matter. The Fifth Amendment and/or immunity and legal tactics will not suffice.” In case the CIA decided Novel was expendable, he seems to have taken out a kind of insurance policy: “Our attorneys and others are in possession of complete sealed files containing all information concerning this matter. In the event of our sudden departure, either accidental or otherwise, they are instructed to simultaneously release same for public scrutiny in different areas.” Novel concludes his little billet-doux by urging the CIA to take “appropriate counteraction relative to Garrison’s inquisition concerning us through military channels, vis-a-vis the DIA man.” Interesting enough, the DIA is the abbreviation for the Defense Intelligence Agency, a top-secret group set up after the Bay of Pigs to supervise the CIA and ensure increased Administration control of CIA activities — a task at which it has proved spectacularly unsuccessful.

  PLAYBOY: Novel subsequently fled New Orleans and took refuge in Ohio. Why were you unable to obtain his extradition?  

GARRISON: The reason we were unable to obtain Novel’s extradition from Ohio — the reason we are unable to extradite anyone connected with this case — is that there are powerful forces in Washington who find it imperative to conceal from the American public the truth about the assassination. And as a result, terrific pressure has been brought to bear on the governors of the states involved to prevent them from signing the extradition papers and returning the defendants to stand trial. I’m sorry to say that in every case, these Jell-o-spined governors have caved in and “played the game” Washington’s way. To give them the benefit of the doubt, I suppose it’s also possible that they just didn’t want to aid and abet an investigation that every official effort, overt and covert, has been made to discredit as irresponsible and unfounded. Whatever his motivation, Governor Rhodes of Ohio, to name one, has said that he would allow me to extradite Novel to stand trial on charges arising from the CIA-inspired burglary of the ammunitions bunker in Houma, Louisiana — but that I would not be allowed under the stipulations of the extradition agreement to question him about the assassination! In other words, it’s OK for me to send a man to jail on a burglary rap, but I mustn’t upset him by inquiring if he killed the President. I’m all in favor of protecting a defendant’s civil rights, but this is straight out of Alice in Wonderland.  

PLAYBOY: The New Orleans States-Item of June 14, 1967, quoted Novel as saying that if he were granted immunity from the assassination investigation, he would be willing to testify on a number of points, including “international fraud, mysterious intelligence activities from November 1959 to date in the Southern quadrant of the U.S.A. and certain islands off Florida, seditious treason, hot war games and cold munitions transfers, ten 1950-model Canadian surplus Vampire jet supporter fighter aircraft and certain Cuban-Anglo-French sabotage affairs of early 1961.” Why did you reject his offer?

GARRISON: These are all intriguing aspects of Novel’s career as a U.S. intelligence agent, and I’d love to hear about them — especially his knowledge of seditious treason — but that isn’t the subject of my investigation.  

PLAYBOY: Let’s move on from Gordon Novel to Jack Ruby, who you claim murdered Oswald to “silence” him. Do you have any evidence that Ruby and Oswald knew each other?  

GARRISON: Though Ruby and the Warren Report denied it vehemently, there is simply no question about it. We didn’t even have to do a great deal of investigative digging; connections popped up everywhere we scratched the surface.  

PLAYBOY: What evidence do you have to support your charge that Ruby was involved in anti-Castro exile activities with Oswald and Ferrie?  

GARRISON: We have evidence linking Ruby not only to anti-Castro exile activities but, as with almost everyone else involved in this case, to the CIA itself. Never forget that the CIA maintains a great variety of curious alliances it feels serve its purposes. It may be hard to imagine Ruby in a trench coat, but he seems to have been as good an employee of the CIA as he was a pimp for the Dallas cops. Just let me add parenthetically that I stress the word “employee” here as opposed to “agent.” The CIA employs many people in many different capacities, sometimes just on a retainer basis, and these individuals do not fall under the over-all authority of the CIA. I have solid evidence indicating that Ruby, Ferrie, Oswald and others involved in this case were all paid by the CIA to perform certain functions: Ruby to smuggle arms for Cuban exile groups, Ferrie to train them and to fly counterrevolutionary secret missions to Cuba, and Oswald to establish himself so convincingly as a Marxist that he would win the trust of American left-wing groups and also have freedom to travel as a spy in Communist countries, particularly Cuba. But I have reason to believe that none of them was a salaried agent operating under a direct chain of command. In this particular case — though as with the others involved, it seems to have been unrelated to his CIA work — Ruby was up to his neck with the plotters. Our investigators have broken a code Oswald used and found Ruby’s private unlisted telephone number, as of 1963, written in Oswald’s notebook. The same coded number was found in the address book of another prominent figure in this case. We have further evidence linking Ruby to the conspiracy, but it involves testimony to be given in court in the future, so I can’t reveal it here. On the broader point of Ruby’s involvement with anti-Castro exile activity, there can be no doubt whatsoever. Let me refer you here to the testimony of Nancy Perrin Rich before the Warren Commission. This lady arrived in Dallas in 1961 with her husband, Robert Perrin, a gun runner and one time narcotics smuggler and, through police intervention, secured a job as a bartender at Ruby’s Carousel Club. She quit soon after and didn’t see Ruby again until one night when she and her husband, as she tells it, attended a conference of anti-Castro exiles presided over by a lieutenant colonel — an Army colonel, she thought. She testified that Robert Perrin was offered $10,000 if he would run guns to the underground in Cuba, and she haggled the sum up to $25,000. When Perrin demanded a cash retainer, a phone call was made and, shortly after, Mrs. Rich recounts, “I had the shock of my life … A knock comes on the door and who walks in but my little friend Jack Ruby … You could have knocked me over with a feather … and everybody looks like … here comes the Savior.” Ruby was the CIA bag man — or paymaster — for the operation, and he left immediately after handling over a large sum in cash to the colonel. Mrs. Rich and her husband subsequently bowed out of the gun-smuggling deal, because, in her words, “I smelled an element that I did not want to have any part of.” Afraid of retaliation, she and Perrin fled from Dallas and hid out in several different cities, winding up finally in New Orleans. A year later, he was found dead of arsenic poisoning. Though it would be difficult to pick a slower and more excruciating way to kill yourself, it was officially declared a suicide. There are too many other instances of Ruby’s anti-Castro activity to go into here. Ruby appears to have been the CIA’s bag man for a wide variety of anti-Castro adventures. In this connection, let me point out that one of the documents classified top secret in the Archives is a CIA file entitled “The Activities of Jack Ruby.” Perhaps this will become a Book-of-the-Month Club selection in September 2038.  

PLAYBOY: Even if Ruby was associated with certain Cuban exile groups, as you claim, couldn’t all of this be totally unrelated to the assassination?  

GARRISON: It could be, but it isn’t. As a result of our investigation, I can say, with the same certitude that I can say the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning, that Jack Ruby was involved in the conspiracy to kill John Kennedy. Much of the evidence we’ve uncovered about Ruby’s involvement relates to our court case against Clay Shaw, so the canon of legal ethics prevents me from broadcasting it before trial. But I will give you one bit of evidence, recently uncovered by our office, that links Ruby to the conspiracy. Four days before the assassination, on November 18th, 1963, a young woman from Dallas named Rose Cheramie was thrown from a moving car on a highway outside Eunice, Louisiana. She was badly bruised and taken to the East Louisiana Hospital in Jackson, Louisiana. When she came out of sedation, on November 19th, she was distraught and sobbed that she had been thrown out of the car by associates of a man named Jack Ruby in Dallas. She claimed to have been sent by Ruby from Dallas to Miami to pick up a shipment of narcotics. When asked by a hospital attendant — who fortunately took notes of her remarks in case the police had to be called in — why she had been hurled from the car, she replied that narcotics smuggling was one thing, but she drew the line at murder. The president, she said, was going to be killed in Dallas within a few days. At this point, sadly enough, the hospital authorities seemed to dismiss her as hysterical and lost interest in her story, although she repeated it in detail the next day. After the assassination, of course, people in the hospital became interested once more, but she had already checked out, leaving no forwarding address other than Dallas, Texas. There the story stood until a few months ago, when we began searching for Miss Cheramie, but it was too late. After the assassination, she was killed by a hit-and-run driver on a highway outside Dallas.  

PLAYBOY: If Jack Ruby was really the sinister and cunning figure you paint him, why would he kill Oswald in the Dallas city jail, where his own apprehension and conviction for murder were inevitable? Wasn’t this more logically the act of a temporarily deranged man?  

GARRISON: First of all, let me dispose of this concept of the “temporarily deranged man.” This is a catchall term, employed whenever the real motive of a crime can’t be nailed down. In the overwhelming majority of instances, the actions of human beings are the direct consequences of discernible motives. This is the fatal flaw of the Warren Report — its conclusion that the assassination of President Kennedy was the act of a temporarily deranged man, that the murder of Officer Tippit was equally meaningless and, finally, that Jack Ruby’s murder of Oswald was another act of a temporarily deranged individual. It is, of course, wildly improbable that all three acts were coincidentally the aberrant acts of temporarily deranged men — although it’s most convenient to view them as such, because that judgment obviates the necessity of relentlessly investigating the possibility of a conspiracy. In Jack Ruby’s case, his murder of Lee Oswald was the sanest act he ever committed; if Oswald had lived another day or so, he very probably would have named names, and Jack Ruby would have been convicted as a conspirator in the assassination plot. As it was, Ruby made the best of a bad situation by rubbing out Oswald in the Dallas city jail, since this act could be construed as an argument that he was “temporarily deranged.” But I differ with the assumption of your question, because, while there could have [been] no doubt in Ruby’s mind that he would be arrested, he could very well have entertained hopes of escaping conviction. You’ve got to remember the atmosphere in Dallas and across the country at that time; when word was flashed to the crowd outside the jail that Oswald had been shot, they burst into wild applause. Ruby’s lawyer, Tom Howard, spoke for a sizable segment of public opinion when he said, “I think Ruby deserves a Congressional Medal,” and the largest-circulation newspaper in the country, the New York Daily News, editorialized after Oswald’s death that “the only good murderer is a dead murderer and the only good Communist a dead Communist.” In the two days between his arrest and his liquidation, Oswald had been convicted by the mass media as the President’s assassin and as a Communist, and Ruby may well have felt that he would be acquitted for murdering such a universally despised figure. It turned out, of course, that he was wrong, and he became a prisoner of the Dallas police, forced over a year later to beg Earl Warren to take him back to Washington, because he wanted to tell the truth about “why my act was committed, but it can’t be said here … my life is in danger here.” But Ruby never got to Washington, and he’s joined the long list of witnesses with vital information who have shuffled off this mortal coil.  

PLAYBOY: Penn Jones, Norman Mailer and others have charged that Ruby was injected with live cancer cells in order to silence him. Do you agree?  

GARRISON: I can’t agree or disagree, since I have no evidence one way or the other. But we have discovered that David Ferrie had a rather curious hobby in addition to his study of cartridge trajectories: cancer research. He filled his apartment with white mice — at one point he had almost 2000, and neighbors complained — wrote a medical treatise on the subject and worked with a number of New Orleans doctors on means of inducing cancer in mice. After the assassination, one of these physicians, Dr. Mary Sherman, was found hacked to death with a kitchen knife in her New Orleans apartment. Her murder is listed as unsolved. Ferrie’s experiments may have been purely theoretical and Dr. Sherman’s death completely unrelated to her association with Ferrie; but I do find it interesting that Jack Ruby died of cancer a few weeks after his conviction for murder had been overruled in appeals court and he was ordered to stand trial outside of Dallas — thus allowing him to speak freely if he so desired. I would also note that there was little hesitancy in killing Lee Harvey Oswald in order to prevent him from talking, so there is no reason to suspect that any more consideration would have been shown Jack Ruby if he had posed a threat to the architects of the conspiracy.  

PLAYBOY: You’ve claimed that many of the people involved in the conspiracy were “neo-Nazi” in their political orientation. What would motivate Ruby, a Jew, to work with such people?  

GARRISON: Money. As far as my office has been able to determine, Jack Ruby had no strong political views of his own. Historically, of course, there have been a number of self-hating Jews who abetted their own tormentors: Adolf Hitler’s mentor in Vienna, Karl Lueger, was born a Jew, and I understand that one of the leading pro-Nazis in New York City, a retired millionaire who finances anti-Jewish activity across the country, is the son of a rabbi. But I don’t believe Jack Ruby falls into this category; he was just a hoodlum out for a buck. I will say — with the understanding that it’s pure speculation — it’s not impossible that Jack Ruby developed certain guilt feelings in prison over his role in the plot. Remember his repeated lament, “Now there will be pogroms. They will kill all the Jews.”? Most people assumed this was just the fantasy of a crumbling mind. But maybe Jack Ruby knew better than the rest of us what the master-racist authors of the assassination had in mind for the country.  

PLAYBOY: Let’s move on from Jack Ruby to David Ferrie. Wesley Liebeler, the Warren Commission counsel who handled the New Orleans end of the inquiry, said Ferrie “was picked up shortly after the assassination and questioned by local officials of the FBI. I remember specifically doing up a substantial stack of FBI reports on Ferrie that we reviewed in order to make our determination.” He states that the FBI reports on Ferrie were not included in the Commission’s 26 volumes of evidence, “because it was so clear he wasn’t involved.” Why do you refuse to accept this explanation?  

GARRISON: I think it’s a lovely explanation. Now perhaps Mr. Liebeler will intercede with the Department of Justice to release 25 pages of the FBI report on Ferrie that have been classified top secret in the Archives. Then we’ll all have a chance to see for ourselves how clear it is that Ferrie wasn’t involved. Every scrap of evidence we’ve uncovered — and it hasn’t been difficult to find — reveals not only the fact of his involvement but the reasons for it. His politics were ultra-right wing, as I indicated earlier, but we’ve been able to determine conclusively that his motivation was closer to that of the Cuban exiles on the “operative” level — a burning hatred of Fidel Castro. When Castro was a guerrilla in the Sierra Maestra, Ferrie is reliably reported to have piloted guns for him. But in 1959, when Castro started to show his Marxist colors, Ferrie appears to have felt betrayed and reacted against Castro with all the bitterness of a suitor jilted by his girl. From that moment on, he dedicated himself to Castro’s overthrow and began working with exile groups such as the Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front and planning airborne missions against Castro’s military installations. He was reported to have been paid up to $1500 a mission by an ex-Batista official named Eladio del Valle. But I haven’t been able to check out Del Valle’s involvement with Ferrie, because on February 22, 1967, the same day Ferrie died in New Orleans, Del Valle’s head was split open by a hatchet and he was shot through the heart in Miami. His murder is listed as unsolved by the Miami police. In any case, Ferrie was recruited by the CIA, which employed hundreds of such people in their network of anti-Castro exile activities. From the Bay of Pigs on, he hated Kennedy as much as he did Castro; he felt that J.F.K. had betrayed the invasion brigade by not sending in air cover. As the events I described earlier led to a détente between Russia and America, and as the FBI — under Kennedy’s orders — started cracking down on the CIA-supported anti-Castro underground, Ferrie’s hatred for Kennedy grew more and more obsessive. Let me add here that this isn’t just speculation on my part; we have a number of reliable witnesses who were privy to Ferrie’s thoughts at this period and saw his hatred of Kennedy develop into a driving force. After the assassination, as a matter of fact, something psychologically curious happened to Ferrie: He dropped out of anti-Castro exile activities, left the pay of the CIA and drifted aimlessly while his emotional problems increased to the point where he was totally dependent on huge doses of tranquilizers and barbiturates. I don’t know if Ferrie ever experienced any guilt about the assassination itself; but in his last months, he was a tortured man.  

PLAYBOY: After Ferrie’s death, you called it “an apparent suicide,” but the coroner an
nounced that the autopsy showed death was due to a ruptured blood vessel at the base of the brain, which caused a fatal hemorrhage. Have you subsequently resolved the discrepancy in your points of view?  

GARRISON: Dr. Nicholas Chetta is an excellent coroner, and inasmuch as he found a total absence of traceable poisons or barbiturates in Ferrie’s system, I would respect his opinion that it was a natural death. On the other hand, I can’t help but lend a certain weight to two suicide notes Ferrie left in his apartment, one of which said how sweet it was to finally leave this wretched life. I suppose it could just be a weird coincidence that the night Ferrie penned two suicide notes, he died of natural causes.  

PLAYBOY: Your critics have charged that your relentless investigation of Ferrie and the publicity the press gave to your charges against him induced the state of hypertension that was said to have caused his fatal hemorrhage. Do you feel in any way responsible for Ferrie’s death?  

GARRISON: I had nothing but pity for Dave Ferrie while he was alive, and I have nothing but pity for him now that he’s dead. Ferrie was a pathetic and tortured creature, a genuinely brilliant man whose twisted drives locked him into his own private hell. If I had been able to help Ferrie, I would have; but he was in too deep and he was terrified. From the moment he realized we had looked behind the facade and established that Lee Oswald was anything but a Communist, from the moment he knew we had discovered the role of the CIA and anti-Castro adventurers in the assassination, Ferrie began to crumble psychologically. So, to answer your question directly — yes, I suppose I may have been responsible for Ferrie’s death. If I had left this case alone, if I had allowed Kennedy’s murderers to continue to walk the streets of America unimpeded, Dave Ferrie would probably be alive today. I don’t feel personally guilty about Ferrie’s death, but I do feel terribly sorry for the waste of another human being. In a deeper sense, though, Dave Ferrie died on November 22, 1963. From that moment on, he couldn’t save himself, and I couldn’t save him. Ferrie could have quoted as his epitaph the last words of the Serb partisan leader Draja Mikhailovitch before Tito shot him for collaboration: “I was swept up in the gales of history.”  

PLAYBOY: Many of the professional critics of the Warren Commission appear to be prompted by political motives: Those on the left are anxious to prove Kennedy was murdered by a conspiracy within the establishment; and those on the right are eager to prove the assassination was an act of “the international Communist conspiracy.” Where would you place yourself on the political spectrum — right, left of center?  

GARRISON: That’s a question I’ve asked myself frequently, especially since this investigation started and I found myself in an incongruous and disillusioning battle with agencies of my own Government. I can’t just sit down and add up my political beliefs like a mathematical sum, but I think, in balance, I’d turn up somewhere around the middle. Over the years, I guess I’ve developed a somewhat conservative attitude — in the traditional libertarian sense of conservatism, as opposed to the thumbscrew-and-rack conservatism of the paramilitary right — particularly in regard to the importance of the individual as opposed to the state and the individual’s own responsibilities to humanity. I don’t think I’ve ever tried to formulate this into a coherent political philosophy, but at the root of my concern is the conviction that a human being is not a digit; he’s not a digit in regard to the state and he’s not a digit in the sense that he can ignore his fellow men and his obligations to society. I was with the artillery supporting the division that took Dachau; I arrived there the day after it was taken, when bulldozers were making pyramids of human bodies outside the camp. What I saw there has haunted me ever since. Because the law is my profession, I’ve always wondered about the judges throughout Germany who sentenced men to jail for picking pockets at a time when their own government was jerking gold from the teeth of men murdered in gas chambers. I’m concerned about all of this because it isn’t a German phenomenon; it’s a human phenomenon. It can happen here, because there has been no change and there has been no progress and there has been no increase of understanding on the part of men for their fellow man. What worries me deeply, and I have seen it exemplified in this case, is that we in America are in great danger of slowly evolving into a proto-fascist state. It will be a different kind of fascist state from the one of the Germans evolved; theirs grew out of depression and promised bread and work, while ours, curiously enough, seems to be emerging from prosperity. But in the final analysis, it’s based on power and on the inability to put human goals and human conscience above the dictates of the state. Its origins can be traced in the tremendous war machine we’ve built since 1945, the “military-industrial complex” that Eisenhower vainly warned us about, which now dominates every aspect of our life. The power of the states and Congress has gradually been abandoned to the Executive Department, because of war conditions; and we’ve seen the creation of an arrogant, swollen bureaucratic complex totally unfettered by the checks and balances of the Constitution. In a very real and terrifying sense, our government is the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a debating society. Of course, you can’t spot this trend to fascism by casually looking around. You can’t look for such familiar signs as the swastika because they won’t be there. We won’t build Dachaus and Auschwitzes; the clever manipulation of the mass media is creating a concentration camp of the mind that promises to be far more effective in keeping the populace in line. We’re not going to wake up one morning and suddenly find ourselves in gray uniforms goose-stepping off to work. But this isn’t the test. The test is: What happens to the individual who dissents? In Nazi Germany, he was physically destroyed; here, the process is more subtle, but the end results can be the same. I’ve learned enough about the machinations of the CIA in the past year to know that this is no longer the dreamworld America I once believed in. The imperatives of the population explosion, which almost inevitably will lessen our belief in the sanctity of the individual human life, combined with the awesome power of the CIA and the defense establishment, seem destined to seal the fate of the America I knew as a child and bring us into a new Orwellian world where the citizen exists for the state and where raw power justifies any and every immoral act. I’ve always had a kind of knee-jerk trust in my government’s basic integrity, whatever political blunders it may make. But I’ve come to realize that in Washington, deceiving and manipulating the public are viewed by some as the natural prerogatives of office. Huey Long once said, “Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism.” I’m afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security.  

PLAYBOY: Considering all the criticism that has come your way, would you still launch your investigation into the assassination if you had it to do over again?  

GARRISON: As long as the men who shot John Kennedy to death in Dallas are walking the streets of America, I will continue this investigation. I have no regrets about initiating it and I have no regrets about carrying it on to its conclusion. If it takes me 30 years to nail every one of the assassins, then I will continue this investigation for 30 years. I owe that not only to Jack Kennedy but to my country.  Playboy magazine, October 1967


Two Volumes coming this spring.

American Injustice Volume One The Garrison Investiogation.
American Injustice Volume Two
Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King

Jim Garrison’s Rebuttal to NBC

Jim Garrison


Tonight, I am going to talk to you about truths and about fairy tales, about justice and about injustice. In the months to follow you are going to learn that many of the things which some of the major news agencies have been telling you are untrue. You are going to learn that although you are citizens of the United States, information concerning the cause of the death of your President has been withheld from you.

In the months to come you will learn to your own satisfaction that President Kennedy was not killed by a lone assassin. You will learn that there has been and continues to be a concerted effort to keep you from learning these facts. And you will learn, I assure you, that what I have been trying to tell you and what I am telling you tonight is true.

As children we become accustomed to hearing fairy tales. They are always pleasant stories and they are comforting to hear because good always triumphs over evil. At least this is the way it is in fairy tales.

Fairy tales are not dangerous for our children and are probably even good for them up to a point. However, in the real world in which you and I must live, fairy tales are dangerous. They are dangerous because they are untrue. Anything which is untrue is dangerous. And it is all the more dangerous when a fairy tale becomes accepted as reality simply because it has an official seal of approval, or because honorable men announce that you must believe it or because powerful elements of the press tell you that the fairy tale is true.

The conclusion of the Warren Report, that President Kennedy was killed by a lone assassin, is a fairy tale. This does not mean that the men on the Warren Commission were aware at the time, that their conclusion was totally untrue, nor does it mean necessarily that these men had any sinister motives. It does mean that the conclusion that no conspiracy existed, and that Lee Oswald was the lone assassin is a fiction, and a myth, and that it should be brought to an end.

The people of this country don’t have to be protected from the truth. This country was not built on the idea that a handful of nobles, whether located in our Federal agencies in Washington D.C., or in the news agencies in New York should decide what was good for the people to know, and what they should not know. This is a totalitarian concept which presumes that the leaders of our federal government and the men in control of the powerful press media constitute a special elite which by virtue of their nobility and their brilliance, empower them to think for the people. Personally, I would rather put my confidence in the common sense of the people of this country.

The truth about the assassination of the President has been concealed from you long enough. Those forces which are fighting so hard today to tell you that they have examined the Warren Report and that everything is fine, and that our investigation has uncovered nothing, are not merely going to lose this fight– they have already lost it.

Now let me tell you why President Kennedy was murdered, and how he was murdered. I also want to give you a few examples which will show you how the conclusion reached by the Warren Commission is totally impossible.

President Kennedy was assassinated by men who sought to obtain a radical change in our foreign policy–particularly with regard to Cuba. You recall that under President Kennedy the Cold War began to thaw and there were new signs of an effort on the part of the Soviet Union and ourselves to understand each other.

On the map, this [Cuba] appears to be merely a large island off the coast of Florida. But for many men it meant a good deal more than this. In 1963 a great variety of interests existed, which not only desired an American supported invasion of Castro’s Cuba, but took it for granted that it was inevitable. In the minds of many men, this island represented a tremendous emotional landmark, because they had steered their courses toward it for so long, and with such intensity.

In the fall of 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred. It was followed by a pronounced new attitude towards Cuba on the part of the United States. Cuba, after this was no longer regarded as an enemy and was no longer regarded as fair game for those men who for one reason or another focused their attention on this island. The new signs of understanding between Russia and the United States continued to develop.

In June of 1963, President Kennedy, addressing students at the American University in Washington told them, “We breathe the same air” as the Russians. He said we should try to live together in peace on this Earth. Well at this point some individuals transferred their hostile attention from Fidel Castro to John F. Kennedy. They planned the President’s assassination, and they planned it well.

The evidence indicates that he [President Kennedy] was shot at from two different directions in the rear and also from the right front. We know that shooting was coming from two separate directions in the rear because the President and Governor [John] Connally were hit in the back within a split second of each other–and this necessarily had to happen with two bullets coming from two different rifles.

We know that the President was being shot at from the grassy knoll area on the right front because most of the people in Dealey Plaza heard the shots coming from there–and because at least one of the President’s wounds was an entry wound from the front, and because men were seen running from the grassy knoll area immediately afterwards.

That’s why the idea of Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin of the President is a fairy tale and should be brought to an end. If you–the people of the United States–will learn the truth; that the President was assassinated by men who were once connected with the Central Intelligence Agency, of course, this might reflect on the dignity of the CIA.

But I happen to believe that our form of government is strong enough to survive the truth. I believe that you are entitled to the truth about how your President was shot down in the streets and how it was done. Instead, some of the most powerful news agencies we have in our country have worked hard to convince you that everything is all right.

They do not tell you that Lee Harvey Oswald’s fingerprints were not found on the gun which was supposed to have killed the President. And they do not tell you that nitrate tests exonerated Lee Oswald from the actual shooting by showing that he had not fired a rifle that day. And they do not tell you that it was virtually impossible for Oswald to have taken his fingerprints off the gun, hidden the gun, and gone down four flights of stairs by the time he was seen on the second floor.

Above all, they do not tell you of the overwhelming eyewitness testimony that shots were coming from behind the stone wall on the grassy knoll. In a choice between official dignity and the truth, dignity was given priority and so you have not received the full truth.

This is why there continues to be hundreds of documents still hidden from your eyes and classified as secret, and some of them bear such titles as, “Lee Harvey Oswald’s accessibility to information about the U-2”; the Central Intelligence Agency’s dossier on Lee Harvey Oswald, and the CIA file on Jack Ruby. You have not been told that Lee Oswald was in the employ of United States intelligence agencies. But this was the case, and so I am telling you.

Why this young uneducated man had learned to speak Russian even before he left the Marines, and there’s only one way he could have learned that. Oswald had a higher security rating than his buddies in his Marine unit.

During 12 hours of questioning, to give you another example–12 hours of questioning after the assassination–there is no transcript of Oswald’s statements available for you to look at.

Now, it doesn’t matter where you live, if somebody in your town steals a 1928 Hupmobile, what he says is written down when he is questioned. However, when the man who has [supposed to have] just killed the President of the United States is questioned for 12 hours, no transcript is available. There’s nothing for you to look at. And believe it or not, one of the explanations given is that the room was too small to include a stenographer.

And here’s something else–this case has more accidental fires, more burning of paper than any murder case in history.

For example, when Oswald was questioned by a federal agent in August of 1963, the notes of the interview were later burned. You cannot see the notes made by Commander Humes concerning the President’s autopsy because he burned them too. One of the questioners of Lee Harvey Oswald during the 12-hour session burned his notes.

And similarly, when the Warren Commission contacted the State Department and said, with regard to Exhibit 948, “We notice that a one-page message from the CIA containing secret information is supposed to be attached to this file and it’s missing. Would you please furnish us with a copy of this missing secret document?” The answer given to the Warren Commission was that the secret message about Oswald from the CIA was accidentally destroyed while being thermofaxed.

This spontaneous combustion, incidentally, occurred the day after the President’s assassination.

I am not even going to bother to dignify the foolishness which Newsweek and NBC and some of the other news agencies have tried to make you believe about my office. I’ve been District Attorney of New Orleans for more than five years and we have never had a single case reversed because of improper methods on the part of our staff. Nor do we rush to judgment on half-baked evidence. And the proof of that is the fact that in more than five years not one defendant has walked out of the courtroom in a murder case with an acquittal. Nor have we lost a major case in five years.

Then what is their game? Their game is to fool you. These people want the investigation stopped. They don’t want a trial at all. Please believe me. They don’t think we’re wrong in our investigation. Obviously, if our investigation was as haywire as they would like to have you think, then you would not see such a coordinated barrage coming from the news centers in the east. Why are they so concerned? Why is it that they cannot wait until the trial comes in order to learn what the facts are? Why are they so anxious to have their own trials?

They know very well that the witnesses they’re presenting to you have not been testifying under oath; that they’re not being cross-examined as they would be at a trial. And that the opportunities for a timely rebuttal by the State of Louisiana which would exist at a trial have not been provided in their untrue presentations. They know this. In my considered judgment there has been an effort to prejudice in advance the potential jurors in the trial of this case. As a matter of fact, the National Broadcasting Company has already had the trial. The defendant was found innocent, and the District Attorney was convicted.

They announced across the nation that my methods were improper. But as their stories, one by one, turn out to be false, they do not reveal this to you — but simply search hopefully into new areas. For example, Newsweek magazine had a feature article saying that my office attempted to bribe a man named Beauboeuf. It later turned out that his story and their article was totally untrue and the tapes which Newsweek described had been altered.

The police investigators in my office were found innocent of any wrongdoing in a serious investigation conducted by the police department. However, Newsweek has made virtually no mention of that.

Similarly, in its recent effort to make you think that my methods are improper, NBC announced coast to coast that it had located the real Clay Bertrand; that an NBC man had talked to him. This made every newspaper in the country and it inferred once again that in addition to using terrible methods we were off on a wild goose chase. Now when it turned out that this was a total fabrication, and the man whom NBC identified as the real Clay Bertrand hotly denied ever using the name, there was only coast to coast silence on NBC.

NBC presented a professional burglar, whom my office had just recently convicted, and allowed him to make a plainly false presentation that we had tried to get him to climb into the defendant’s apartment and plant evidence there. The inference, of course, was that this particular defendant was too lofty a character to participate in my nefarious schemes.

However, recently, when we called him before the New Orleans Grand Jury so that he could tell all about our new venture into the burglary business, he took the Fifth Amendment when asked if his statement on NBC was true. Once again, this was followed by a loud silence from coast to coast on NBC.

As a matter of fact, the Warren Commission’s inquiry into the assassination started off with a completely unacceptable philosophy for a democracy like ours. One of its stated objectives was to calm the fears of the people about a conspiracy. But in our country, the government has no right to calm our fears any more than it has, for example, the right to excite our fears about Red China or about fluoridation or about birth control, or about anything.

There is no room in America for thought control of any kind, no matter how benevolent the objective.

Personally, I don’t want to be calm about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I don’t want to be calm about a President of my country being shot down in the streets. And I don’t want to be calm about the fact that for reasons of public policy or national security or any other phony reason, the true facts have been withheld from the people of this country.

If the day has come when it is possible to shoot our President down because some men disagree with his foreign policy–and the day has come that the moment his heart stops beating other considerations take over which conceal the total truth from the citizens of the United States, then the day has come when we have ceased to be a democracy.

I cannot believe that this is so, that the time has come in America when the people no longer control their country.

Yet I must confess that I am appalled by the readiness with which some of the major press media have accepted the great fairy tale without hesitation — rousing from their stupor only when they have learned that a District Attorney was violating all the rules of etiquette and digging up the truth. They are telling you that black is white when they tell you there is no evidence of a conspiracy. They have to know well the significance of the continued concealment of X-rays and autopsy pictures which if revealed to you would show that the President was hit by rifle fire from more than one direction. And they have to know well of the hundreds of documents which remain classified, secret, and concealed from your view.

And they are making white, black when they repeatedly state that my office has used improper methods. They have to know that no D.A.’s office in the United States would dream of operating in the way they suggest. They have to know that for years I have been a strong defender of the rights of individuals.

They have to know all of this, but they have lent themselves to the all-out effort to convince you that the matter has been looked into and anyone who raises a question now is irresponsible or a troublemaker or an enemy of the people. What’s that? You say that you are an American citizen and you want to see the autopsy X-rays and you want to see these hundreds of documents that have been withheld from your view and you want to know why these vital notes always ended up being burned?

What’s the matter with you? Can’t you take the word of these honorable men, who have looked into it for you?

Let me just give you one example that shows you how impossible the single assassination theory is — which shows you the enormity of the fairy tale which you are supposed to believe in.

Now this is the Warren Commission’s own diagram of the route of the bullet through Governor Connally.

[At this point in his presentation, Garrison displayed a diagram (CE 689) that presented the Warren Commission’s version of the path of the “magic bullet.”]

The bullet had to take this route in order to cause the injuries which he received. Now the important thing to keep in mind is that the Warren Commission itself concedes that if this same bullet was not the one which also went through President Kennedy, then there had to be someone else firing. And the reason for that, just to put it very simply, is that the Zapruder film has shown that all the firing occurred in six seconds, and yet there were a total of eight wounds. Therefore, this one bullet has to cause seven wounds, because one missed and one was the fatal shot hitting the President. So by the Warren Commission’s own admission, prior to hitting the Governor, this bullet had to go through President Kennedy who is sitting back here. Now you’ll notice that the Warren Commission did not attempt to include President Kennedy in the diagram — they could not because of the total impossibility of this bullet having gone through the President also would be too obvious. In other words, by the evidence of the Warren Commission itself, it is obvious that there was other shooting going on in Dealey Plaza.

Consequently, the Warren Commission has officially concluded that before this bullet came down from the sky as it had to, to hit Governor Connally in all those different places, it entered President Kennedy’s body from the rear and came out of his neck.

I might add that the Warren Commission did not try to include the President’s picture because that would have shown that the course of the magic bullet would have had to have gone up in the air and come down again in order to end up hitting the Governor

It is by selecting these little portions of each incident and by excluding other portions that the fairy tale is presented to you. However, if they had to show in one diagram the bullet entering the President and then continuing through Governor Connally, you would be able to see the total impossibility of this bullet causing seven wounds

And now, let’s take a look at the magic bullet itself: [Exhibit 399].

This is the magic bullet which is supposed to have caused these wounds, without having its shape altered in any way or without even getting dirty. This bullet, which was found at Parkland Hospital, lying on the floor, went through President Kennedy’s back and out of his neck, through Governor Connally’s back and out of his chest, into the governor’s wrist and out of his wrist and into the governor’s leg.

Don’t ask me to explain to you how it was possible for this to have occurred. They can’t really explain it either. But you have to believe it because if this untarnished bullet did not accomplish all this by itself, then it means that someone else had to be shooting at the President and, of course, this would conflict with the official version of the assassination.

Now, this is just one of many examples which show that the Warren Commission’s conclusion is completely impossible. Bullet 399 is another example, the fact that the cartridges in the Tippit case do not match at all the bullets in Tippit’s body–one after the other–if I had the total hour to reply which NBC used to try and discredit my office I would be able to go into more matters. But let’s sum it up by saying that it is completely impossible to uphold the single assassin theory, if you look at it seriously. Anyone who has done their homework knows that the single assassin theory is totally impossible.

In the final analysis what has been done by the Warren Commission in its investigation, is to take this series of implausibilities and to attempt to prove to you that each one of them is at least mathematically possible. Each one of them is mathematically possible, but not probable. However, it is not mathematically possible for all of these series of implausibilities to have occurred, and this is what they ask you to believe.

It’s very much like telling you that it is mathematically possible, for example, for an elephant to hang from a cliff with his tail tied to a daisy. Of course, this is implausible.

But what do they do? They produce an expert who says, “Yes I have made a study of the situation, and this is not a full-grown elephant, and this is a particularly tough kind of daisy. And, therefore, it was mathematically possible.”

Now the official truth, as a result of such expert testimony–as a result of the creation of a series of mathematical possibilities is now no longer what actually happened in Dallas, but what has been officially approved.

Well, I say that the matter is not closed–not in this country. I say that the day has not yet arrived when the only reality is power and the ideals on which our country was built are merely words printed on paper.

I believe that those news agencies which have sought to imply that I would use improper methods to gain some sort of fictional political advantage have simply revealed their own cynicism. I believe that in this conflict between truth and power — and this is exactly what it is all about–that power cannot possibly smash truth out of existence. The people in this country will not let that happen.

If we still live in the same country in which we were born, and I don’t think it’s changed that much; if this is still the country in which, in the words of our Pledge of Allegiance, there exists, “liberty and justice for all,” then this attempt to conceal the full truth from you, in the end, has to be a failure.

In this case I have learned more about the human race than I really wanted to know. And I’ve learned more about some of our government agencies than I really wanted to know. But I am still naive enough to believe that in America the people make the decisions, not a handful of men in the Washington and New York areas. And I believe that the people of America want to know the entire truth about how their President was shot down in the streets of Dallas. And I want to assure you, that as long as I am alive, no one is going to stop me from seeing that you obtain the full truth, and nothing less than the full truth — and no fairy tales.

“  Time for the preceding program was made available to District Attorney Jim Garrison of New Orleans. The program was prepared under his sole supervision. It constitutes his reply to an earlier NBC News program examining some of the methods Mr. Garrison has used in his investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy. This program originated in the studios of WDSU-TV in New Orleans.”


NBC White Paper

The JFK Conspiracy: The Case of Jim Garrison

June 15, 1967

Big Media put a full court press on District Attorney Jim Garrison in June of 1967. Omitting, spinning, and outrght deceit are the hallmarks of this attack.

Frank McGee: NBC News

Frank McGee: NBC News

Many Americans doubt the findings of the Warren Commission. Only one American has had and used legal powers to investigate these findings. That one is Jim Garrison, the District Attorney of New Orleans. His investigation has made headlines for four months. This is an examination of that investigation.


The JFK Conspiracy: The Case of Jim Garrison. Reported by Frank McGee: NBC News.

Frank McGee: NBC News

Four months ago, Jim Garrison said he had positively solved the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He said a man named David Ferrie was under surveillance. When Ferrie died suddenly, he called him one of history’s most important figures. On March 1st he arrested a New Orleans businessman named Clay Shaw and charged him with participation in the conspiracy. He said there would be more arrests, a considerable number of them. He said the key to the case is through the looking glass; black is white, white is black.

We have no right to pre-judge Jim Garrison’s case. We can legitimately examine his record up to now. Our starting point is the pre-trial hearing of Clay Shaw. Garrison had two key witnesses. The first was a twenty-six-year-old insurance salesman named Perry Raymond Russo. Russo testified that in September 1963, he’d gone to a party in David Ferrie’s apartment. Among the guests were several Cubans, Ferrie’s bearded roommate, and a man named Clay [sic] Bertrand. Later, when the other guests had left, he found himself alone with Ferrie, the roommate, who he identified as Lee Harvey Oswald, and Bertrand. But despite his presence, they began to discuss openly and in detail a plan to assassinate President Kennedy. Russo was asked if Bertrand was in the courtroom. He said, yes. He was asked to point out Bertrand. He got up from the witness chair, walked over to the defense table, and held his hand over the head of Clay Shaw.

Garrison’s second key witness was Vernon Bundy, a twenty-nine-year-old narcotics addict. Mainly on the testimony of Russo and Bundy, a three-judge panel decided that there was sufficient evidence to establish probable cause that a crime had been committed.

In answer to criticism of his witnesses, Garrison pointed out that it was hard to find bank presidents at the scene of this conspiracy. He defended Vernon Bundy:


The question is, is he telling the truth or not? There are many attorneys who are brilliant liars, and there are dope addicts who have never learned to lie. And that’s the case here. The question is, was he telling the truth, and the answer is, obviously.

Frank McGee: NBC News

Vernon Bundy has been a narcotics addict since he was thirteen. He has a police record. On March 4, 1967, according to Jim Garrison, Bundy turned himself in to New Orleans Parish Prison because he was back on the habit. Bundy says he was first interviewed by Garrison’s men the day before he testified.

Two former prisoners told NBC News Bundy had indicated to them that his testimony that he had seen Shaw and Oswald together was not true.

John Cancler, known as “John the Baptist”

Q. What is your profession, Mr. Cancler?

A. You mean, what was my profession?

Q. Yes.

A. I was a burglar.

Q. You were in Parish Prison on this burglary rap.

A. Right.

Q. And did you meet a man named Vernon Bundy there?

A. I found out later his name was Vernon Bundy. See, I didn’t know what his name was until I read the paper. I only knew him as “Legs.”

Q. What did “Legs” tell you up there?

A. He just said, “I wonder whether I should say I saw him on Esplanade or I saw him on the lakefront.” I said, “Man, it’s getting bad if you start talking to yourself, too.” You know, like some of these guys will stir bug, you know. He said, “No, man.” He said, “I’m talking about this cat, Shaw.” I said, “What you talking about, man?” He said, “Man, I don’t know whether it’s best for me to say I saw him on Esplanade Street or the lakefront.”

Q. Did Bundy indicate to you whether the story that he was going to tell in court was true?

A. Did he [indicate]? How could he indicate when he would ask me, should he say this or should he say that? If it was the truth, he would know what to say.

Q. It was obvious from what he told you that he was going to tell a lie then?

A. He told a lie.

Q. Did he tell you it was a lie?

A. Sure. I asked him, “Man, is this the truth?” He said, no. He said, “No, it’s not the truth.”

Frank McGee: NBC News

Also in Parish Prison at the time Bundy testified was Miguel Torres, serving a nine-year sentence for burglary. He met Bundy in a prison hospital.


Q. What did he tell you about his testimony that day?

A. He says, “Well, that’s the only way that I can get cut loose.” I asked him, how much time did he owe that state. He said he owed the state five years; he was out on five years probation. And then I said, “Well, that’s a hell of a thing to be doing in order to do what you want to do.” He says, “Well, the reason I am doing this is, it’s the only way I can get cut loose.”

Q. In other words, he said to you, in effect, that he was testifying as he was in the Shaw hearing in order to prevent his probation from being revoked, is that right?

A. From being violated, yes, sir.

Q. Did you get the impression that he knew that his testimony in the hearing had been false?

A. Well, just exactly how I said. He said, “The reason I am doing this is because it’s the only way I can get cut loose.” And the impression I got was that: that it was [an] out-front lie.(3)

Frank McGee: NBC News

Jim Garrison told a BBC reporter he uses what he calls objectifying tests to make sure his witnesses are telling the truth. One such test is the polygraph or lie detector. On the morning he testified, Vernon Bundy was given a lie detector test. NBC News has learned that the results of the test indicated that Bundy was lying. Assistant District Attorney Charles Ward was informed of this, and Ward went to Garrison. He told Garrison that in view of the outcome of the lie detector test, the indication that Bundy was lying, Bundy should not be allowed to testify. Despite this, Bundy was put on the witness stand by Garrison. He testified against Shaw. Partly as a result of that testimony, Shaw was held for trial.

More important than Bundy was Perry Russo. He was, in fact, vital to Garrison’s case. He linked Shaw, Ferrie, and Oswald; he involved them in the conspiracy to kill John F. Kennedy. Well, how did he come into the case? By his own account, he wrote a letter to Jim Garrison, saying he had some information about David Ferrie’s connection with the assassination of President Kennedy. This was on February 22, 1967. That same week he was interviewed by a reporter from the NBC affiliate in Baton Rouge:


Q. What kind of remarks did David Ferrie make about the assassination to you?

A. Toward the end of September, October, I saw him on several occasions, and he brought out the fact, in passing remarks — whether or not it had any real meaning, I don’t know, and I’m not trying to add words to his meaning — but he said that “we will get him,” referring to the President, ’cause we were in elaborate discussions concerning the President. He said, “We will get the President,” referring to Kennedy.

Frank McGee: NBC News

In his first public interview, Russo mentioned no party at Ferrie’s apartment, no assassination plot, no Clay Shaw or Clay Bertrand. Next he talked to a reporter from WDSU-TV:


Q. [Fades in] . . . at all with the assassination in any way?

A. Well (clears throat), uh, see, that I don’t know, and I, you know, it’d be just speculative, speculation.

Q. Did he ever mention Lee Harvey Oswald’s name?

A. No.

Q. No conversation at all about —

A. No, I had never heard of Oswald until the television of the assassination.

Frank McGee: NBC NewsTwo weeks later he would testify at the hearings. He would positively identify Lee Oswald and Clay Shaw. He would describe in detail the party which they were present. He would tell about a plot to kill the President. What had happened?

We know that Russo was visited in Baton Rouge by one of Garrison’s assistants, Andrew Sciambra. We know that he spent time on at least three occasions with a man from Garrison’s office. And we now know some additional facts. Jim Phelan covered the conspiracy story for the Saturday Evening Post. Nine days before the hearing he met Jim Garrison in Las Vegas. He spent ten hours with Garrison, discussing the case.


Jim Phelan

Q. Did he give you any documents to read in connection with this?

Jim Garrison

A. Yes, he gave me two documents. One of them was a long memorandum written by Mr. Garrison’s first Assistant District Attorney, Andrew Sciambra, which recounted a[n] interview that he had had with Perry Russo in Baton Rouge. This is the first interview that anyone from the DA’s office had had with Perry Russo.

Q. And what was the second document?A. The second document was a hypnotic interrogation of Russo. I believe it was four days after the first interrogation.

Q. Did Russo tell the same story in both of these documents?

A. He did not.

Q. As a witness, Russo said he was at a party at David Ferrie’s apartment, and present when Ferrie, Clay Shaw, and Lee Harvey Oswald plotted to kill President Kennedy. Did he tell this story in his first interview?

A. He said nothing whatever about a party or a plot in the first interview.

Q. Was he able to identify Oswald?

A. They made an identification after they sketched a series of beards on the picture of Lee Oswald. I think they drew eighteen or twenty of them before he finally came up with the identification.

Q. Was Russo shown a picture of Clay Shaw?

A. Yes, he was.

Q. Did he identify the picture of the man he knew to be Clay Shaw as Clay Bertrand?

A. He did not. He simply said he’d seen the man.

Q. How many times — ?

A. He said he’d seen him twice.

Q. And where had he seen him?

A. He saw him once when Kennedy was visiting New Orleans to dedicate the Nashville Wharf, and the second time he said he saw this man was in a car with Dave Ferrie.

Q. Did he mention seeing him at a party in Ferrie’s apartment, where people had plotted to kill Kennedy?

A. He said nothing about it. In fact, he said specifically that he had seen him twice, and he said specifically the two times.

Q. When did Russo first describe the details he testified to at the pre-trial hearing?

A. He first mentioned the plot and the party and the presence of Shaw, Oswald, and Ferrie in a deep hypnotic trance, when he was hypnotized by Dr. Esmond Fatter.

Q. Did he remember Shaw and an assassination plot immediately under hypnosis?

A. He did not. He volunteered no information about the party or the plot.

Q. When did he begin to remember?

A. He began to remember when Dr. Fatter asked him a series of leading questions. Well, I would say it went beyond that. Dr. Fatter set the stage for him. He told him that he would be present in Ferrie’s’ apartment, and that Shaw and Oswald would be there, and they would be discussing assassinating someone. And then Dr. Fatter says, now tell me about it.

Q. Am I correct in reading this from the record: Dr. Fatter saying, quote, “Anytime you want to you can permit yourself to become calm, cool, and collected. You will be amazed at how acute your memory will become in the next few weeks.”

A. That is correct.

Q. How did Perry Russo appear when you saw him testify?

A. He was calm, cool, and collected.  


Q. Why do you feel that you had to use extraordinary methods like truth drugs and hypnotism to get these people to give their evidence?

A. We decided to give him objectifying machinery to make sure he’s telling the truth. We gave him truth serum in order to make sure. Now, it seems to me that this is rather unusual, a prosecuting office which has a pretty good case, making its witness take objectifying tests to make sure they’re telling the truth. We did it for this reason. We used hypnosis for the same thing. Just to make sure he’s telling the truth. 

Frank McGee: NBC News.

Dr. Jay Katz is Associate Professor of Law and Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at Yale. We showed him the stenographic transcripts of two of Dr. Fatter’s hypnotic sessions with Perry Russo.


 Q. Doctor, how reliable, in your view, are sodium Pentathol and hypnotism as a means of reaching the truth?

A. There’s a very widespread belief that under hypnosis and under sodium Amytol, subjects will tell the objective truth. But under hypnosis, at least a great many subjects may have greater difficulty to differentiate between fact and fantasy.

Q. Dr. Katz, does it appear to you that some of the questions by the interviewer questioning Perry Russo suggest the answers?

A. I wondered about this, and I was very much struck that on many occasions, the hypnotist introduced very leading questions. This was most striking, if I can use one example, when he directly asked him, or, in fact, not even asked him, but told him to tell him about the conversation that took place with respect to an assassination plot

Q. Would you comment on [whether] the manner in which the interviews with Perry Russo were conducted made it more rather than less difficult to separate fact from fantasy?

A. Yes, he made no attempt, as far as I can see, to press further, and at least attempt to find out what was fantasy and what was reality.

Q. Then you don’t feel that there was sufficient questioning to find out whether Russo was, in fact, telling the truth, or was distorting the truth?

A. That is quite correct. This is also very, very difficult, but one at least can make an attempt, and this attempt was not made in this case.  


Q. Did you ever talk to Garrison about the discrepancies in his reports?

A. After the hearing in which Mr. Shaw was held at trial, I called Garrison, and I said, “Jim, there’s something bothering me deeply.” So he said, “Well, I’ll get Sciambra out here.” And he called him right away on the phone, and he had him come out to his home. He also had his chief investigator, William Gurvich, and the four of us sat there in Garrison’s study, and I put this to Sciambra. I said, “There’s nothing in your original interrogation about, one, Shaw knowing Oswald, Shaw knowing Ferrie, about the man you identified as having seen, about knowing him as Bertrand, or about a party at Ferrie’s apartment, in which they discussed the assassination. In fact, all of the things that were so damaging to Shaw were not in the original report.”Sciambra first told me that I didn’t know what I was talking about, because Mr. Sciambra didn’t know that I had a copy of this report. And then I told him that I had the copy of it, and I’d read it many times. And at this point, Mr. Sciambra changed his story, and he said, well, maybe he had left it out of the report. That he had written the report under trying circumstances, and he’d been doing a number of things, and he might have forgotten to put it in. And I told him I simply couldn’t believe this.The next day I thought, well, at least if Sciambra were telling a straightforward story, that he would have mention of the crime in his original notes. He might have left it out of the report, but he at least would have taken it down when he was talking to Russo, because he took detailed notes. So I went back to Sciambra, and I asked him, I said, “Where are your original notes? We can settle this quickly.” Mr. Sciambra told me he had burned his notes.

 Frank McGee: NBC News

Sciambra says Phelan’s story is incomplete and distorted.To objectify the testimony of Perry Russo, whom Garrison described as a very stable young man, Russo was submitted to sodium Pentothal, hypnotism, and, on March 8th, six days before he testified, to a lie detector test. NBC News has learned the following facts about this test. Russo’s answers to a series of questions indicate, in the language of the polygraph operator, deception criteria. He was asked if he knew Clay Shaw; he was asked if he knew Lee Harvey Oswald. His “yes” answers to both of these questions indicated deception criteria. Russo’s general reaction to this series of questions led the polygraph operator to suspect a psychopathic personality. At least one investigator and one assistant district attorney in Garrison’s office were present. The list of questions was taken away from the polygraph operator. He was told not to say anything.Despite the incomplete test, the preliminary indications of deception criteria, six days later, Russo was put on the stand as the chief witness against Clay Shaw.The core of his testimony was his description of a party sometime in September 1963. He said Ferrie, Oswald, and Shaw were there. Russo also said several of his friends were present in the early part of the evening: Sandra Moffett, Kenny Carter, Lefty Peterson. We talked with Lefty Peterson: 


 Q. [fades in] . . . David Ferrie?

A. Yes, sir, I do.

Q. And how did you meet Ferrie?

A. I met him at Perry’s house.

Q. Did you see David Ferrie at any other time?

A. I seen [sic] him twice since then. I seen [sic] him once on Louisiana Parkway. I went to his house with Perry and some other people. About four of us stopped in. We stayed for about 20 or 25 minutes and left.

Q. All of you left?A. No, Perry stayed there, I think. He didn’t leave.Q. When was this?A. September 1963.

Q. Describe that occurrence.

A. We was [sic] coming from some kind of sports event, football game, I think.

Q. Do you remember who played?A. No, sir.

Q. Was it a Tulane game?

A. Yes, sir, a Tulane game, yes, sir.

Q. You’re pretty sure it was a football game?

A. Positive.

Q. What makes you think it was September?

A. It was the first game of the season, either the first or second game of the season, one of the two. 

Frank McGee: NBC News

Tulane played two games that year, one October 4, the other September 20. Under hypnosis, Russo said the party took place September 16. Under oath, he said the party took place sometime, he wasn’t sure when, in mid-September. Kenny Carter remembers going to a game with Russo, he thinks it was the Miami game on October 4th.The date is crucial. Is it possible that Lee Harvey Oswald could have been present, wearing a beard and looking like a beatnik, on those dates? If not, Garrison’s hearing case collapses. Where was Lee Harvey Oswald on September 20th? 


Q. [When you] arrived in New Orleans, do you remember the date?

A. Yes, I think I do. I think it was the 20th of September. That would be, was a Friday.

Q. How long were you there?A. Over the weekend, left Monday.

Q. Where did you stay when you were in New Orleans?

A. At their apartment [Lee and Marina’s].

Q. And can you tell me whether or not Lee was living at home all of the time he was staying there, evenings?

A. Oh, yes, he was. He was there the entire time.  


 Q. In September of 1963, did you see Lee Harvey Oswald often or did you hear him in the house?A. Well, I used to hear him in the house all the time. I mean, him and his wife used to do a lot of arguing, and the baby would start crying. That’s how I knew he was home

.Q. When would you say Lee Harvey Oswald left the apartment?

A. Well, I know he left the same night that his wife left that day. Now, whether it was the 24th or the 25th, I don’t remember exactly. But that same day his wife left, he left that night. 

Frank McGee: NBC News

Two witnesses say Lee Harvey Oswald could not have been living with David Ferrie on September 20th; Oswald was living at home in New Orleans on September 20th.On October 4th, the date of the Miami-Tulane game, he was in Dallas. He registered with the YMCA. He called Ruth Paine on the telephone. At two in the afternoon, he was interviewed for a job by Ted Gangel of the Padgett Printing Corporation.Could he have been Ferrie’s roommate at any time in September 1963? 


 Q. You arrived at the party at David Ferrie’s house. Who answered the door?

A. His roommate.

Q. Describe his height, his general build, and . . .

A. He’s about 6 or 6’1″, about 170 pounds, I’d say. 165, 170 pounds.

Q. Was he quite a bit taller than you?

A. Oh, yeah, he was taller than me, yeah.

Q. How tall are you?

A. 5’9″.

Q. So how much taller than you would he have been?

A. About two or three inches.

 Frank McGee: NBC News

Lee Harvey Oswald was exactly five feet, nine inches tall, exactly as tall as Lefty Peterson.Russo, in trying to identify the roommate with the beard, said Peterson, quote, “would know more about the roommate and be able to identify him.” 


 Q. [fades in] . . . to you and I’m going to see if you think this fits the description of the man you saw in David Ferrie’s apartment. I’m quoting Perry Russo. He said the roommate had sort of dirty blond hair and a husky beard, which appeared to be a little darker than his hair. He said the guy was a typical beatnik. He said the roommate appeared to be in his middle twenties. Would that description fit the man that you saw that night?A. Just about, yes, sir.  


Q. I’m going to read a description given by Perry Russo of a man that he saw in the apartment of David Ferrie. He described this man as having a bushy beard, being cruddy — very, very dirty. In your opinion, could that description have fit the Lee Harvey Oswald that you knew?

A. I don’t see how that would fit him, because I’ve never seen him like that.” 


Q. Perry Russo has described David Ferrie’s roommate, whom he identified as a man he knew as “Leon Oswald,” as very, very dirty, a typical beatnik, with a husky beard. Do you recall whether Lee Oswald was clean-shaven or had a beard?

A. When I came to New Orleans, about September 20th, he was clean-shaven then, and I never saw him with a beard. I don’t believe he had one, to my knowledge. I think Marina would have mentioned it. And he was also neat when he dressed, and clean, it seemed to me. I just feel that Mr. Russo must have seen someone else that he thinks was Lee Oswald.  


Q. You were, in 1963, from the period of at least September through November, closely associated with David Ferrie?

A. That’s correct.

Q. You knew practically everyone associated with him at that time, is that correct?A. That’s correct.

Q. If someone lived in his house for more than two or three days during that period of time, in other words, might have been there long enough to be considered a roommate, would you have known about it?

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. There has been testimony recently about a roommate of Ferrie’s who was unkempt or wore a beard. Do any of the people you knew and who knew Ferrie fit this description?

A. James Lewallen could possibly fit that description very well. I remember at that time Lewallen did have some sort of beard, and I wouldn’t necessarily call him unkempt, but to some people this might represent being unkempt. But one of the things I’ve noticed, remembering Lewallen, he bears a striking resemblance to this mock picture of Oswald [sketched by the NODA at Perry Russo’s direction]

.Q. Could he have been considered a roommate of Ferrie’s?

A. Yes, he could have, possibly, I think he and Ferrie did room together sometime maybe prior to that, maybe around that time.

Q. Did you know anyone at the time associated with Ferrie by the name of Leon?

A. Well, Jim Lewallen’s last name, sometimes people would address him as, “Hey, Lou,” “Lee,” or something like that.  

Frank McGee: NBC News

The facts are these. Russo said Oswald, dirty and with a beard, was at the party, that he was Ferrie’s roommate. He said the party took place in mid-September. He said Lefty Peterson was there. The two possible dates Peterson gives for the party, November [sic] 20th and October 4th, make it impossible for the man to have been Oswald.Russo speaks of the roommate’s beard. People who knew Oswald say he never had a beard. Peterson says the roommate was at least two inches taller than he, which [sic] we knew Oswald was Peterson’s height. And we know Russo denied knowing Oswald only three weeks before he testified.Now, Clay Shaw is not an easy man to forget. If Clay Shaw had been present in a room with Perry Russo, Lee Oswald, and David Ferrie, it seems likely he would have been noticed.


Q. Did you notice a big man of any description, an older man there?A. No, sir.

Q. There was no one over forty, say in his forties or fifties, something like that?

A. Just Ferrie.

Q. Did you ever hear the name Clay? First name, Clay?

A. No, sir. Never

.Q. Did you ever hear the name Bertrand dropped?

A. No, sir. Never.

Q. Have you seen Clay Shaw’s picture?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Was the man you saw in that picture, was he at that party that night?

A. What, Clay Shaw?Q. Yes

.A. I didn’t see him.  


Clay Shaw

Q. Were you at the time or have you ever been in David Ferrie’s apartment?

A. Never.

Q. You’ve heard of the name Clay Bertrand?

A. I have.Q. Do you know any such person

?A. I do not.

Q. Can you state whether or not you are Clay Bertrand?

A. I am not Clay Bertrand.

Q. In 1963, did you ever have occasion to meet or know Lee Harvey Oswald?A. Never.

Q. Did you ever have occasion to meet or know David W. Ferrie?

A. I did not.

Q. Do you have any knowledge of a plot to assassinate President Kennedy?

A. None whatsoever. 

Frank McGee: NBC News

Garrison has based his case on the certainty that he can prove Clay Shaw is Clay or Clem Bertrand. The name Clem [sic] Bertrand was first introduced by a lawyer named Dean Andrews, who told the Warren Commission a person by that name telephoned him, suggesting he provide legal defense for Lee Oswald. Three years later, Garrison suggested to Andrews that Andrews identify Shaw as Bertrand. Andrews said he told Garrison he wouldn’t say if Shaw was or was not Clay Bertrand. 


Q. [fades in] . . . the same as Clay Shaw?

A. You say I identified him. I don’t know if I did or I did not. 

Frank McGee: NBC News

Since then, Garrison has taken his former friend, Dean Andrews, before the Grand Jury, where he’s been indicted for perjury. Before that happened, Andrews talked with us. 


Dean Andrews, Jr.

A. Man, I wouldn’t know Clay Shaw if I fell over him on the street dead.

Q. Has the occasion arisen for you to listen to Clay Shaw’s voice?

A. Ah, yes, since all this popped up, they had him on TV, so I just shut my eyes and listened to the voice, and that’s not the voice.

Q. In other words, you’re saying that Clay Bertrand is not Clay Shaw?

A. I’m saying that the voice of Clay Shaw is not the voice that I identify as Clay Bertrand.

Q. Now, you have seen Clay Bertrand on two occasions?

A. Two times

.Q. You have seen Clay Shaw’s picture?

A. Since this happened? Many times.

Q. Can you say positively that the person you know as Clay Bertrand is not the person you have seen as Clay Shaw?

A. Scout’s honor, he is not. 

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American Injustice Volume 1(February 2022)

American Injustice Volume II-(May 2022)

Fitton Books


Here is Hugh Aynesworth expose on the Garrison Investigation (1967)

What lies behind New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s increasingly notorious investigation of a “plot” to kill John F. Kennedy? To find out, NEWSWEEK sent a veteran reporter, who covered the assassination and its aftermath, to New Orleans for five weeks. His account follows.

by Hugh Aynesworth

What lies behind New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s increasingly notorious investigation of a “plot” to kill John F. Kennedy? To find out, NEWSWEEK sent a veteran reporter, who covered the assassination and its aftermath, to New Orleans for five weeks. His account follows. by Hugh Aynesworth Is Garrison is right. There has been a conspiracy in New Orleans—but it is a plot of Garrison’s own making. It is a scheme to concoct a fantastic “solution” to the death of John F. Kennedy, and to make it stick; in this cause, the district attorney and his staff have been indirect parties to the death of one man and have humiliated, harassed, and financially gutted several others.

Jim Garrison

 Indeed, Garrison’s tactics have been even more questionable than his case. I have evidence that one of the strapping D.A.’s investigators offered an unwilling “witness” $3,000 and a job with an airline—if only he would “fill in the facts” of an alleged meeting to plot the death of the President. I also know that when the D.A.’s office learned that this entire bribery attempt had been tape-recorded, two of Garrison’s men returned to the “witness” and, he says, threatened him with physical harm.

Another man who spent many hours with District Attorney Garrison in a vain attempt to dissuade him from his assassination-conspiracy theory has twice been threatened—once by one of the D.A.’s own “witnesses,” the second time by Garrison himself. Others—Cuban exiles, convicts, drug addicts, homosexuals, bums—have been hounded in more subtle ways. For most of Garrison’s victims are extremely vulnerable men. Some are already paying for their vulnerability. Chief among them is Clay L. Shaw, the New Orleans businessman-socialite, who now faces trial on a charge of conspiring to kill the President.

How did it all begin?

Garrison first became earnestly interested in the Kennedy assassination when he and Louisiana Sen. Russell Long rode side by side on an airplane bound for New York. Long said he had never actually believed the Warren commission report, that he still had doubts. Garrison later told me that he immediately decided that if such an important man thought there was something odd about the case, it was time to start digging

Garrison is known in New Orleans as a smart operator, a bit unorthodox, but nobody’s fool. He made his name by cleaning up his old haunt— the French Quarter—and putting a temporary halt to B-girl practices and lewd dancing in its gaudy strip joints. Later, he amazed the whole city by accusing eight criminal judges of taking too many days off and of winking at Mafia activity. But although the judges sued him for libel, Garrison’s right to criticize the judiciary was finally upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, when he first announced his “conspiracy” case, most New Orleanians believed that “Big Jim must have something.” What Garrison had to start with was a colorfully pathetic “suspect” named David Ferrie. A onetime airline pilot, Ferrie had been questioned shortly after the assassination on the basis of a tip that he was Oswald’s “getaway pilot.” But the tipster was an alcoholic who later admitted that he had made up the story.

Despite his clean bill of health from the FBI and Secret Service, Ferrie became the center of Garrison’s investigation. He was questioned for hours, “tailed” and subjected to polygraph tests. His acquaintances were quizzed.

By February, word had leaked out of Garrison’s office that Ferrie was soon to be arrested and charged with the conspiracy of conspiracies. Through it all Ferrie called the D.A.’s investigation a “farce” and told friends he would sue Garrison if he were arrested. But as the weeks wore on, Ferrie, not a strong or stable man under the best of circumstances, began to show the strain. Then, suddenly on Feb. 22, he died—of a massive cerebral hemorrhage.

Suicide: Garrison crowed that Ferrie’s death was “an apparent suicide” and he warned that same week: “We know who the rest of them are. The only way they are going to get away from us is to kill themselves.” A week after Ferrie’s death, Garrison ruefully admitted to me in his home, “Yeah, we helped kill the son of a bitch.”

Shortly after Ferrie’s fortuitous death, Garrison proclaimed that he had “solved” the President’s assassination; that he knew the individuals involved, the cities and other details of the “plot.” Arrests would be forthcoming, and convictions too. “Don’t bet against us,” the district attorney warned.

Two days later, a crucial “witness” miraculously appeared. Perry Raymond Russo, a 25-year-old insurance salesman from nearby Baton Rouge, claimed that he had known David Ferrie well and that Ferrie had once said President Kennedy should have been killed for his bungling of the Bay of Pigs disaster. Garrison assigned former boxer Andrew J. Sciambra, 31, one year out of law school, to interview Russo. After his first conversation with Russo, Sciambra filed a 3,500-word memo in which he failed to mention anything about an assassination plot.

Ideal Witness: But later, after being given “truth serum” (sodium pentothal) and being prompted, Russo testified at length in a pretrial hearing about a key “conspiracy” meeting held in Ferrie’s apartment which also supposedly involved Clay Shaw and Lee Harvey Oswald. Russo seemed to be the ideal witness. He was cool, calm—”almost as if he was hypnotized,” said one attorney. Lo and behold, the defense later discovered that Russo had been hypnotized —just hours before he testified. Russo told the court he had stood around in the apartment and listened while Ferrie, Oswald and Shaw hatched their “plot.” He could recall phrases like “availability  of exits,” “diversionary tactics,” and “triangulation of crossfire.” Russo offered a variety of unconvincing reasons why he had never mentioned the meeting to anyone before.

Garrison produced another unusual “witness” at the hearing, a 27-year-old Negro drug addict. Vernon Bundy said that while sitting on the lakefront one morning waiting to “pop” a cap of heroin he looked up and saw Oswald being handed a wad of money by Shaw. Bundy admitted he had a four-cap-a-day habit at that time and had been on drugs since the age of 13. One defense attorney asked Bundy how he could support such a demanding heroin habit when the cost would be nearly twice his salary.

“I steal sometimes,” Bundy replied.

Clay Shaw

Shaw: A price for vulnerability

 After the three judges on the hearing panel agreed that the Russo and Bundy testimony was enough “evidence” to bind Shaw over for trial, one judge told a friend at the racetrack that although Garrison really didn’t have enough to bind the defendant over, he and his fellow judges had been fascinated by how well Russo stuck to his story for two days.

Many hypnotists probably were not so impressed.  Garrison did not stop with Russo and Bundy. His men tried to get another “witness” to shore up his conspiracy charge. In fact, they tried about $3,000 worth.

Less than a week before Shaw’s pretrial hearing, two investigators from Garrison’s office visited an unemployed young man named Alvin Beaubouef at his New Orleans home. They told the 21-year-old they had “influence” and could help Beaubouef get a job with an airline if only he would help them substantiate the alleged plot. Beaubouef told them he couldn’t do anything without talking to his attorney. They made a date for 2:30 the next afternoon at the lawyer’s office. `

Just Like That’: One of the two investigators, Lynn Loisel, a New Orleans policeman assigned to Garrison’s office, showed up. What had Loisel told Beaubouef the night before, the attorney asked? “I told him we had liberal expense money,” Loisel replied. “And I said the boss is in a position to put him in a job, also that he would make a hero out of him, instead of a villain, you understand … I mean we can change the story around, you know, to positively, beyond a shadow of a doubt … You know, eliminate him, you know, into any kind of a conspiracy or what have you.”

The attorney wanted to know more about the offer of money. Loisel answered: “I would venture to say . .. Well, I’m, you know . .. fairly certain we could put $3,000 on him.” He snapped his fingers. “Just like that, you know.” Loisel was asked about the promise of a job. “I don’t know,” the burly cop said. “I’m sure he would have to go up through the ranks, you know. The first year or two he might stay in a room in the back with the charts or something … I don’t know. Then he advances a little farther. Then he’s a co-pilot …

 Then he’s a pilot.” Beaubouef’s lawyer asked if this was Garrison’s idea, if “the boss” meant Jim Garrison? Loisel replied that it did. Then Loisel laid out the “conspiracy plot” to which Beaubouef presumably would testify. He discussed “crossfire” and escape routes. As Loisel “recalled” it, Ferrie and Shaw had been arguing in the apartment—or maybe it had been Oswald and Shaw—the investigator couldn’t quite recall for sure. Loisel added: “Clay Shaw wanted some of his methods used, or his thoughts, you know, used. But anyway, that’s what we have in mind—along that line.”

Suggestion: “Was Al at the meeting?” the attorney asked. Loisel said: “No, Al wasn’t at the meeting.” But Loisel suggested that Dave Ferrie had told Beaubouef all about it. The attorney then asked how they would explain Beaubouef failure to come forward prior tothis. “I‘ll tell you how we go about that problem,” said Loisel. “Well, Dave Ferrie, bless his soul, is gone. Al was scared of Dave. Al has a family, you know. When Al first met Dave, he was a single man. Al has a family now. Al was threatened by Dave, you know, to never divulge this. Al or his family would be taken care of. You understand. Now that poor Daveis gone, Al has voluntarily come forth and told of his knowledge. I mean there’s 99,999 ways we can skin that cat, you know. I mean, it’s something, you know . . That’s his patriotic duty … He’s placing his family, you know, at the mercy of the D.A.’s office because he must clear his conscience . . and as an upstanding citizen.”

 ‘Check Back’: Beaubouef told Loisel that he really knew nothing about any plot concerning Ferrie or the assassination. But he offered to take the “truth serum,” hypnotism, polygraph tests, anything. He had one question. Would they still give him the job if he turned out to be of no help to them? Loisel said: “I’ll have to check back with the boss.” When the D.A.’s men learned that the meeting in the attorney’s office had been recorded on tape, Loisel and a colleague returned to threaten Beaubouef. He was told if he got in the way he would be shot. Then they hauled him down to the courthouse and made him sign a statement that said, in effect, that he didn’t consider the offer of $3,000 and a job as a bribe. They told him bluntly that they had “enough on him” to ruin him. Today, with a wife, an 11- month-old son and a job, Beaubouef is as worried about the existence of some pictures the D.A. holds over his head as he is about physical harm. So it goes in New Orleans, where several sit on the hot seat while Garrison thrashes around for “evidence” to implicate them and keep himself in the headlines. In the latest wrinkle last week, the district attorney brought into his investigation two men named Oswald (Julius J. and William S.) whose only connection with the assassination seemed to be that they worked at a New Orleans coffee company that once employed Lee Harvey Oswald. Composite Conspirator: In the beginning, Garrison theorized that Lee Harvey was an anti-Castro agent whose original mission was to kill the Cuban dictator. When Oswald could not get to Cuba, the D.A. charged, the plot “turned around” and the plotters (angered over the Bay of Pigs fiasco) set up Oswald in the Kennedy killing. But Garrison’s theory has undergone so many permutations that his composite conspirator now would probably be equal parts Oswald, homosexual, right-wing extremist, FBI agent, Cosa Nostra hood, CIA operative and Russian double agent. There is still some feeling in New Orleans that Big Jim must have something. But now that the facts of the real “conspiracy” are beginning to emerge there, Garrison seems to be losing his confidence. He is having trouble sleeping, and he says that a hired “torpedo” from Havana is stalking him.

The real question in New Orleans is no longer whether Garrison has “solved” the assassination. The question is how long the people of the city and the nation’s press will allow this travesty of justice to continue.

Hugh Aynsworth

Hugh Aynesworth

 Newsweek, May 15, 1967

Fitton Books by Robert P. Fitton

Time out: Phelan’s Article on the Garrison Investigation

The Saturday Evening Post

May 15, 1967

A Plot to Kill Kennedy?


District Attorney Jim
Garrison claims to have solved
the President’s murder.
What evidence does he have?
How good is it?

by James Phelan

On the morning of February 20, a deluge of frantic incoming calls lighted up the telephone switchboard in the outer office of the district attorney of New Orleans, and for the next month it blazed like a pinball machine gone mad. Day after day, calls poured in from across the U.S., from London, Rome, Paris, Berlin, from South America, Mexico, Japan. At times the trunk lines jammed completely. One Moscow journalist made six transatlantic calls without ever reaching Garrison himself. “I dialed twenty-three times before I got the switchboard girl, ” said another newsman. “She said, ‘One moment, please,’ and that was the last I heard of her.”

Outside Garrison’s office the corridor boiled with newsmen, radiocasters, television crews, curiosity-seekers. There was a team of reporters from Paris Match, two men from the Russian news agency Tass and someone from the radio station at Anna, Ill., population 4,280. “I wonder where Norman Mailer is,” a newswoman said. “Everyone else is here.

What fetched them running was the remarkable news that New Orleans was staging its own version of the Warren Commission, without the Warren Commission. Heading the new -investigation into the death of John F. Kennedy was District Attorney Jim (“Jolly Green Giant”) Garrison, a six foot-six-inch lawyer, with a contempt for orthodoxy and an instinctive dislike for anything that might be termed The Establishment. Articulate, sardonic, well-read, Garrison is an ardent admirer of Ayn Rand, author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and high priestess of a cult of absolutely unfettered individualism.

Garrison established his credentials as a maverick at the very outset of his Kennedy probe. When Congressman Gerald Ford suggested that he turn over any new evidence to the U.S. Attorney General for forwarding to the President, Garrison snapped, “I am running this investigation, not the President, not the Attorney General. Now if they want to help me, I’ll welcome their assistance. But I’m not reporting to anyone.”

In addition to a new management, New Orleans’s one-man Warren Commission had a new plot and an assortment of bizarre new characters. According to Garrison, instead of a one-man strike by a bitter, alienated loner, Kennedy’s tragic death was engineered by a group, in which Lee Harvey Oswald played a complex role of “participant, decoy and victim.” Said Garrison at the outset of the hullabaloo, “My staff and I solved the assassination weeks ago…. We know the key individuals, cities involved, and how it was done.”

Garrison’s startling announcement came when public discontent with the “lone assassin” explanation was growing. In January the Gallup Poll had reported that only 36 percent of the American people believed that Oswald had acted alone, and Rush to Judgment, author Mark Lane’s assault on the Warren Report, was topping best-seller lists both here and abroad.

News of the Garrison project first broke on February 17, in a story in the New Orleans State-Item by a pert, pixie-faced, girl crime reporter named Rosemary James. Based on information dug up by several staff reporters, she disclosed that in three months Garrison had expended $8,000 in public funds dispatching staff men to Florida, Washington, Texas and elsewhere, running down leads on the Kennedy assassination.

Garrison denounced the disclosure of his project as “outrageous” and “irresponsible.” Rosemary James, however, says, “I took a copy of the story to Garrison the day before we printed it. He read the lead, threw it back to me and said, ‘No comment.’ He said nothing about the story hurting his investigation, and if he had asked us to withhold it, I think the paper would have done so. ” Said Garrison, “Anyone who says I read that story in advance is a liar.”

The day after publication of the first story, a key figure in the investigation stepped forward: David W. Ferrie. “You had to see Dave Ferrie to believe him,” says a New Orleans newsman, “and once you saw him you could never forget him.” Ferrie was 48, completely hairless, and habitually wore glued-on eyebrows and had tufts of hair fastened at random on his head with spirit gum. He had a nasal voice, an antipathy to soap and a penchant for authoritative statements.

He also had a long record of failure in a wildly disparate series of endeavors. Ferrie had been a teacher, an unsuccessful candidate for the priesthood, a pilot who had been discharged by Eastern Air Lines for homosexual activity, a “psychologist” with a “degree” from a diploma mill, a private investigator, a self-proclaimed cancer-cure researcher” and an amateur hypnotist. In New Orleans he had become enmeshed with a group of anti-Castro Cubans and had been training teams of “guerrilla jungle fighters” for some future assault on Cuba. To muddy things further, some of his acquaintances insisted later that Ferrie often expressed admiration for Fidel Castro. In his spare time, Ferrie labored on a miniature submarine that he was trying to fashion out of an airplane fuel tank. “Like most of Dave’s projects,” said a friend, “it didn’t work.”

Garrison later was to describe this exotic loser as “one of history’s most important individuals.” But when Ferrie first surfaced in the Garrison probe on February 18, Ferrie simply identified himself as a reject from the Warren Commission investigation. He had been picked up by Garrison’s men shortly after the Dallas tragedy in 1963, Ferrie declared, on a tip from an unstable New Orleans character. Ferrie said he gave the FBI a “meticulous accounting” of his movements on the weekend of the assassination. Says a Washington source, “The FBI squeezed Ferrie dry, found nothing there, and discarded him.” When Garrison opened his own investigation, three years later, he ran Ferrie through a new interrogation. Said Ferrie, “Supposedly I have been pegged as the getaway pilot.” Ferrie denied any role in any plot, denied that he ever knew Lee Oswald and termed Garrison’s project “an utter waste of time.”

Four days after he made this statement, David Ferrie was found dead in his filthy, cluttered apartment at 3330 Louisiana Avenue Parkway. Although the New Orleans coroner flatly declared his death due to natural causes (massive brain hemorrhage from an artery failure), Garrison referred to it darkly as a suicide, hinted it might be murder and began issuing a series of provocative statements.

“Evidence developed by our office,” Garrison declared, “had long confirmed that [Ferrie] was involved in events culminating in the assassination of President Kennedy.” Two days later, February 24, Garrison announced for the first time that he had “solved” the plot to murder President Kennedy, that “every individual involved” would be arrested and that “the only way they can escape is to kill themselves.”

Up to that point, the American press in general had been playing down the Garrison project, while the European papers had been bannering it. But within hours after the death of Ferrie and Garrison’s bold announcement, the jets began to deplane newsmen by the dozen at New Orleans International Airport, and the second Mardi Gras of 1967 was on.

It was one of those stories with a dozen rumors a day and no real news. After a bitter blast by the American Civil Liberties Union accusing him of prejudicial statements, Garrison began avoiding the press. Without Garrison — who had the whole story, whatever it might be, in his head — there was nothing left but conjecture.

I flew into New Orleans 10 days after the story broke. Four years earlier when Garrison, new to the D.A.’s office, had cleaned up the gamey clip joints in Bourbon Street for the first time in man’s memory. I had reported his reform campaign for the Post (‘.’The Vice Man Cometh ” June 8, 1963). I had spent a leisurely 10 days with Garrison and his chief investigator, a shrewd, tough ex-cop named Pershing Gervais, and had found Garrison’s directness and brutal candor remarkable for a politician. Now Gervais was gone, and a New Orleans writer warned, “You’ll see a difference in Garrison. He’s lost his best. people, and has surrounded himself with yes-men. There’s nobody to stop him or challenge him now.”

I picked up my first hot rumor four hours after getting into town. “Just got a tip,” a man told me. “The Post is financing Garrison in exchange for an exclusive story on the assassination plot. They’re sending a man down today to wrap it all up.” I told him I was the man from the Post and that his story was untrue. “Oh,” the man said.

For four days Garrison was unreachable. Interview-seekers had to queue up at his office just to leave a note for him, and it disappeared into a huge stack of similar notes. In the oyster bars on Iberville, the jazz clubs. and strip Joints on Bourbon Street, in the cool, dim-lighted New Orleans Press. Club, everyone asked the same question: “Do you think Garrison has something?” The answers fell, into three groups. Many New Orleans residents believed that Garrison knew exactly what he was doing. “He wouldn’t go out on a limb like this without something big,” they said. “He’s too smart.”

The second group, mainly Garrison’s enemies, said, “He’s gone off his rocker and is gbing to fall flat on his face.”

The. third group had a more sophisticated analysis. “He’s got hold of a little something, but not a real conspiracy. With all the Cuban refugees in this town boiling mad about the Bay of Pigs, there were probably a hundred people who talked about killing Kennedy. Garrison will come up with some scraps, make some headlines and drop it. When Ferrie died, that gave him a perfect out. It will all be over in a couple of weeks.”

The third group proved wrong first. On March 1, Garrison stunned New Orleans by suddenly ordering the arrest of Clay L. Shaw, a tall, gray-haired, 54-year-old bachelor, a familiar figure in New Orleans social, circles, and former managing director of the city’s International Trade Mart. Right after Shaw’s arrest, Garrison obtained a search warrant for Shaw’s residence in the French Quarter. The warrant application claimed that in September 1963, Ferrie, Oswald and Clay Shaw (“alias Clay Bertrand”) had held “meetings” in Ferrie’s apartment at which there was an “agreement and combination among” these three “and others” to kill Kennedy. Garrison claimed to have “a confidential informant who was present at the meetings and saw the conspirators and heard the plans.” Armed with the search warrant, Garrison’s men sped to Shaw’s home and carted off a wide variety of objects, which included five whips, some chains, a black hood and cape, pieces of leather, a black gown and a black “net-type hat.”

In a jammed press-conference, Shaw flatly denied all of Garrison’s charges. “I have not conspired with anyone at any time or at any place to murder our late and esteemed President,” he declared in a calm voice. Asked why he thought Garrison had arrested him, he replied with no visible show of rancor, “I have no way of knowing.

The arrest of Shaw brought two new characters onstage. The first was Dean A. Andrews, a onetime private attorney, and an assistant district attorney at nearby Jefferson Parish until his suspension on March 16. Andrews, a roly-poly man addicted to sunglasses and startlingly elliptical conversation, had 14½ pages of testimony in the Warren Report. It had made three major points:

During Oswald’s stay in New Orleans in 1963, Oswald had come to his office for legal help about his discharge from the Marines, and had been accompanied by some “gay kids, Mexicanos.” 

 Someone by the name of “Clay Bertrand” called Andrews from time to time and asked him to represent homosexuals in trouble with the law. 

 The day after Kennedy’s assassination, Andrews, who was hospitalized with pneumonia, received a phone call from “a voice I recognized as Clay Bertrand.” The caller asked Andrews if he would go to Dallas and defend Oswald. Andrews told the caller he was sick, and nothing more came of it.    

Andrews said he had seen Bertrand only twice. He told the Warren Commission Bertrand was about five feet eight inches,” with sandy hair. In an earlier interrogation by the “Fee-Bees” — his term for the FBI — he said Bertrand was about six feet two and had brown hair. Confronted with the six-inch disparity in Bertrand’s height, Andrews replied, “I don’t play Boy Scout and measure them.” He added a final colorful touch. After the assassination, he said, he spotted “that swinging cat” Bertrand in a bar. Bertrand “spooked and ran,” Andrews said. “I should have cracked him on the head with a bottle, but I figured to be a good law-abiding citizen and made the biggest mistake of the century.

The elusive Clay Bertrand intrigued Jim Garrison. Early in his investigation, Garrison told me later, he became convinced that Clay Shaw was also Clay Bertrand. He called in Dean Andrews for further questioning, and Andrews reportedly claimed he couldn’t say for sure that Bertrand was Shaw or that he wasn’t. Garrison then took Andrews before the New Orleans grand jury, and on March 16 he was indicted for perjury in a matter “relating to a conspiracy to murder John F. Kennedy.” Andrews brushed the matter aside with a pure Dean Andrews quote. Throwing up his hands like a man who had borne more than mortal flesh should bear, he said, “Garrison thinks I have the key to some locks. The fact is I don’t even know where the locks are.”


Nine days before Clay Shaw’s preliminary hearing on March 14, I met Garrison at the Las Vegas airport. My note had finally worked its way through the stack in his office, and he had called me to apologize. “I’ve got to get away for some rest,” he said. “I’ll meet you in Vegas where we can relax and get some sun. I’ll tell you the whole incredible story.” He came off the plane slump-shouldered and exhausted.” I’ve been going for months on three or four hours’ sleep a night, working on this thing seven days a week,” he explained.

In the next two days we talked for about 10 hours. He told his story in bits and pieces, interrupted with long discursions on the shortcomings of the Warren Report. “What they did on the Warren Commission was send a hundred squirrels out to pick up leaves, acorns and sticks. Each squirrel brought something in and dumped it in a box. Then the head squirrels looked at this collection of junk and tried to reconstruct the terrain where it had been picked up. What it took to solve this puzzle was imagination and evaluation. It was like a chess game-and I once played an expert eight hours to a draw.”

His interest in the Kennedy assassination, Garrison said, had originated the previous fall when he flew from New Orleans to New York with Sen. Russell Long of Louisiana. “Up to that time I had assumed that the FBI had done a competent job,” he said, “but I found that Long had some doubts about the solution to the Kennedy killing. He is a knowledgeable Washington figure, so I began to have some second thoughts.”

On his return to New Orleans, Garrison said, he read a number of “excellent articles and books” criticizing the Warren Report and “realized that something was wrong.” He quietly opened his own investigation.

“You know how you can pluck at a thread and wind up unraveling a whole coat?” Garrison said. “The thread that unraveled this whole case was the trip that Ferrie made to Houston the day after Kennedy was killed. While everybody in the country was glued to their television sets, Ferrie takes off with two guys and drives through a thunderstorm to Houston. He told the FBI that he had this sudden desire to go skating, and he knew there was a skating rink in Houston. The FBI checked him out and found that he showed up at the skating rink, all right, and they dropped him. But you know what? They never even asked if Ferrie put on his skates! We checked and found that he just stood alongside a wall there that afternoon and told everybody who would listen, ‘I’m Dave Ferrie.’ We checked the rink and found that there was a phone on that wall. So it seemed plain that this was the message center.”

At the end of the 10 hours, Garrison had never explained what the “message center” was for, who called Ferrie there or whom Ferrie called.

Boiled down, his version of the Kennedy assassination made it out to be the result of a homosexual conspiracy masterminded by Dave Ferrie. “You can understand his motivation,” Garrison said. “Kennedy was a virile, handsome, successful man-everything Ferrie was not. In addition, there was the thrill of staging the perfect crime. Remember the Loeb and Leopold case in Chicago? It was the same thing with Kennedy.”

By the wildly convoluted script that Garrison had pieced together, Ferrie had trained some “Cuban wildcats” to go in and assassinate Castro, but then had “spun them off” and directed them against Kennedy. He claimed that Oswald and Ruby were both homosexuals and were both involved in the plot. He implied that Ruby — “his homosexual nickname was Pinkie” — executed Oswald to prevent him from telling all. He claimed that there were at least two other gunmen, firing from the famed “grassy knoll” at Dealey Plaza. He implied-without flatly stating-that he knew who they were. He gave me two Cuban names. Several weeks later I learned that he was planning to interrogate one of them as a cooperative witness, and apparently had recast him from a bad guy to a good guy.

At the end of two long rambling sessions, he told me that his key witness against Shaw would be Perry Russo, a 25-year-old insurance salesman.

He gave me two documents to read overnight. “Take these and brief yourself on them,” he said. “They’ll help you understand Perry Russo’s story.”

The first was a long memorandum from Garrison’s assistant, setting forth in detail what Perry Russo had said in his first interview. The other was a transcript of what Russo had said four days later, under hypnosis, in what purported to be an attempt by Garrison to “refresh his memory.” I read them three times, with a growing sense of disbelief. The two versions, from the same witness, told two completely different stories. And in the first account there was no mention of Oswald, Ferrie and Shaw plotting to kill anyone.

Shaw’s preliminary hearing opened March under dramatic security precautions. Newsmen were photographed, given special passes, frisk for weapons. Armed deputies lined the courtroom and kept the audience under constant watch.

Perry Russo was the whole show. Dark-haired and somber, the 25-year-old salesman proved a polite and imperturbable witness. In response to Garrison’s questioning, Russo said he had first met Ferrie in 1960. Russo had been trying to extricate a young friend from Ferrie’s influence at the request of his friend’s parents. Ferrie became so enraged at his efforts, Russo said, that he once threatened to kill him, but later they became friends.

Russo identified Lee Harvey Oswald as a man he had known as Ferrie’s roommate under the name of Leon Oswald. He said he saw Oswald — in the summer of 1963 with Ferrie at Ferrie’s apartment, once polishing a rifle with a telescopic sight mounted on it. He testified that “Oswald” seemed rather surly and was “antagonistic” to him.

He identified Clay Shaw as a man he had seen three times. The first time, he said, was during a visit by Kennedy to New Orleans, when he sat Shaw in the crowd. The third time was in a car with Ferrie, months after the assassination.

Their second meeting was the heart of Russo’s story. This, Russo said, was at a party at Ferrie’s apartment in the middle of September, about two months before Kennedy was killed. He said he had just “dropped in” and found eight or nine people there. The others drifted off, leaving Russo alone with “Clem Bertrand” — whom he identified as Clay Shaw — Oswald and Ferrie. And then, said Perry Russo, the three others began openly discussing the assassination of the President.

He said Ferrie “took the initiative” and discussed “diversionary shots.” He said there would be two or three people involved and one “would have to be the scapegoat” while the others made “the good shot.” The three discussed a plan to escape by plane to Brazil via Mexico or directly to Cuba. The only reference to Russo’s presence during this frank discussion was at the outset. Oswald said, “What the hell is he doing here?” Russo said Ferrie replied that Russo was “all right — he doesn’t know anything.” Russo declared that he had no part whatever in the plot; he was simply one of the world’s most fortuitous witnesses.

He withstood a long cross-examination without once visibly ruffling. He conceded that he had not identified a picture of Lee Oswald as “Leon Oswald” until Garrison’s office had sketched a series of beards on it. He acknowledged that he had seen Ferrie numerous times the assassination and never questioned them about the “murder plot” or, about the man named “Oswald” he had seen with a rifle. He had not come forward with his story in the three years since the assassination, he said for a variety of reasons. He “had confidence in the FBI” — which had reported that only Oswald was involved in the Dallas killing. Besides he “was involved with school, which was more pressing to me,” and “I never push myself off on anybody.”

He was followed on the standby Coroner Nicholas Chetta, who testified that he had administered Sodium Pentothal — the so-called truth serum — to Russo, and by Dr. Esmond Fatter, who said he interrogated three times under hypnosis. Each testified that hypnosis could assist a witness in sharpening his memory and enable him to recall past events.

The only witness other than Russo was a narcotics addict who claimed he saw — during a time he was on a four-cap-a-day heroin habit — two men he identified as Shaw and Oswald talking together on a New Orleans breakwater. At the conclusion of the four-day hearing, the judges ruled that there was “probable cause” to hold Clay Shaw for trial.

The way Russo related his story in court — and the way it was reported around the world — he has simply overheard an assassination plot and had told Garrison’s office about it when he saw a picture of one of the plotters — Dave Ferrie — in the newspapers. Garrison had then had Russo’s story “checked” by truth serum and hypnosis and it had stood up. But if Garrison’s own records could be believed, it hadn’t happened that way at all.

Russo was first interviewed by a Garrison aide on February 25, three days after Ferrie’s death and the day after Garrison had announced to the world that the case was solved. The interview was conducted in Baton Rouge, Russo’s hometown, by Andrew (“Moo”) Sciambra, a 31-year-old assistant D.A., just a year out of law school. “We talked about three hours, and Sciambra made a lot of notes,” Russo told me after the hearing.

Sciambra returned to New Orleans and on Monday, February 27, wrote a minutely detailed memorandum to Garrison on what Russo had told him. It ran 3,500 words. At no point did it mention an “assassination plot.” It made no reference to the party at Ferrie’s apartment, where Russo later said the plot was discussed. There was no positive identification of Lee Harvey Oswald as “Leon” Oswald. Most striking of all, when shown a picture of Clay Shaw Russo had said nothing whatever, according to the memorandum, about having known him as “Bertrand.” The memo specifically said Russo had seen Shaw only twice — once at the Kennedy speech and once in a car with Ferrie. There was no mention whatever of Shaw’s even knowing Oswald.

According to a second memo by Sciambra, Russo was put under Sodium Pentothal on Monday afternoon in New Orleans, and this time he did make passing reference to the party at which the plot was discussed. There was no stenographic record made of this session, but Sciambra’s memo clearly states that Russo mentioned the party only after this prompting by Sciambra: “I then asked him if he could remember any of the details about Clay Bertrand being up in Ferrie’s apartment.”

The sensational story Russo later told on the witness stand was elicited from him under hypnotism two days afterward. The trance was induced by Dr. Fatter, who conducted the questioning. The answered were recorded by a stenographer.

Obtaining dependable testimony via hypnotism, according to competent psychiatrists, is a highly sensitive procedure. A subject in a deep trance is highly suggestible. Says Harry Arons, an expert in the field, “It is possible to lead a suggestible witness in any direction by improper questioning.

Fatter used the device of having the hypnotized Russo picture a “television screen” and describe what he saw on it. When Russo yielded nothing about a party at Ferrie’s or an assassination plot, Fatter began setting the stage for him. “Now picture that television screen again, Perry, and it is a picture of Ferrie’s apartment and there are several people in there and there is a white-haired man. Tell me about it.”

RUSSO: “We are having a party and I came in and everybody is drinking beer. There are about ten of us and I am there, the roommate, Dave, some young boys and some other friends of Dave’s and I was with Sandra.” He went on about a “record player” and “a guy making a speech” — but nothing about Shaw, Bertrand, or an assassination plot.

Finally, Dr. Fatter set the whole scene for him. “Let your mind go completely blank, Perry — see that television screen again, it is very vivid — now notice the picture on the screen. There will be Bertrand, Ferrie and Oswald and they are going to discuss a very important matter and there is another man and girl there and they are talking about assassinating someone. Look at it and describe it to me.”

And under this prodding, Perry Russo finally came up with his story.

In their final session, two days before Clay Shaw’s hearing, Dr. Fatter gave Russo this post-hypnotic suggestion: “Any time you want to, you can permit yourself to become calm, cool and collected . . . . You will be amazed at how acute your memory will become in the next few weeks. Things will seem to pop into your mind and it will be only the truth as you saw it . . . . Remember, Perry, the truth always wins out . . . .”

Throughout his testimony, I listened with fascination as a “calm, cool and collected” Perry Russo related his marvelously detailed hypnotic vision — the story that differed so greatly from the one “Moo” Sciambra had originally reported.

After the judges ruled that Shaw should stand trial, I called Garrison. “Something bothers me,” I said. I told him there wasn’t a thing in Sciambra’s first report about a party, a plot or a “Bertrand.” Garrison seemed surprised; apparently, he had never read the report. “I’ll get Moo out here and have him explain it,” he said.

There were four of us in Garrison’s study when I questioned Sciambra — Garrison, Sciambra, a private investigator named William Gurvich, who is assisting Garrison on his probe, and myself. I asked Sciambra why his report on his first interview with Russo said nothing about an assassination plot. Sciambra said I didn’t know what I was talking about. I told him I had read his report carefully and knew exactly what was in it. “Maybe,” he said, shifting his story, “I forgot to put it in.”

“But you reported specifically that Russo said he had seen Shaw only twice, not three times,” I persisted. Sciambra said he had been “awfully busy with a half dozen other things and had to sandwich in the report and might have forgotten” to include everything. I said it seemed incredible that he would uncover testimony that might solve the crime of the century and then forget to report it.

“You made notes when you first talked to Russo,” I said. “Your original notes would show whether he mentioned an assassination plot.” Sciambra said he had burned his notes.

Later I asked Dr. Fatter where he got the information, he used in prompting Russo under hypnosis. He said it came from “Garrison’s office.”

Since the Shaw hearing, the girl Russo claimed accompanied him to the “plot” party, the former Sandra Moffit, has been located. She denied attending the party and said she had not even met Ferrie until 1965. Granting the potency of hypnotic suggestion, it seems possible that Perry Russo did not know, when he testified, what was fact and what was hypnotic hallucination.

At this writing Shaw’s trial has not been set and is at least six months away. This will give Jim Garrison a lot of time to try to solve the crime he said he solved months ago. When Garrison met me in Las Vegas he made a comment that seems to sum up the whole affair. “This case,” he said, “is straight out of Alice in Wonderland.”

Fitton Books by Robert P. Fitton

American Injustice-Volume 1
American Injustice-Volume 2

American Injustice-Volume 1 and 2 availble spring 2022.

Fitton Books by Robert P. Fitton

Time out: The Drum Major Instinct

When I was studying relevant events from the spring of 1963, I was of course drawn to Dr. King’s funeral service at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Upon watching the video of the service, I was interested in the recording of a sermon by Dr. King called the Drum Major Instinct, the audio of which was played during his service. I was taken aback when the text of that sermon was missing the biblical references and passages as spoken by Dr. King. Someone had removed the scripture which was the basis of the sermon. Well, that portion has been restored in my post, partially for the religious aspect and for the insight on human nature. I also thought as I listened to the service” Why was Martin Luther King killed. I will leave nothing out in respect to that question nor will I frivolously insert nonsense; not to lead the parade but to keep the moral compass pointed toward the truth, where Dr. King would have wanted it to be.

The Drum Major Instinct

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King

This morning I would like to use as a subject from which to preach The Drum Major Instinct.

The Drum Major Instinct.

And out text for this morning is taken from a very familiair passage in the tenth chapter as recorded by St. Mark beginning with the thiry-fifth verse of that chapter, we read these words, ” And James and Joh nthe sons of Zebedee, came unto him saying Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we should desire.” And he said unto them, ” what would ye that I should do for you?” And they said unto him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the the other on thy left hand in thy glory.

But Jesus said unto them. “Ye know not what ye ask: Can you drink of the cup I drink of and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said unto him “We can.” And Jesus said unto them ye shall indeed drink of the cup I drink of, and with. And the baptism that I am baptized with all shall be baptized. But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give. But it shall be given them for whom it is prepared.

And Jesus goes onto the end end of that passage to say, ” But so shall it not be among you: But whosoever will be great among you. shall be your servant: and whosoever of you be cheifest shall be the servant of all.”

The setting is clear. James and John are making a specific request of the master. They had dreamed as most of the Hebrews dreamed of a coming king of Israel who would set Jersusalem who would set Jerusalem free and establish his kingdom on Mount Zion and inrightousness rule the world. And they thought of Jesus as this kind of king. And they were thinking of that day when Jesus would rein supreme as this new king of Israel. And they were saying when you establish your kingdom, let one of us sit on the right hand and the other sit on the left hand of your throne. Now very quickly we condemn James and John, and we would say they were selfish. Why would they make such a selfish request?

But before we condem them too quickly, let us look calmly and honestly at outselves. And we will discover the we to have those same basic desires for recognition and importance. That same desire for attention, that same desire to be first. Of course the other deciples got mad at James and John and you could understand why, but we must understand the we have those same James and John qualties. And there is deep down within all of us an instinct. It is a kind of Drum Major InstinctTo be out front. To lead the parade, A desire to be first. And it is something that runs the whole gamnut of life.

And so before we condemn them, let us see that we all have the drum major instinct.

We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade. Alfred Adler, the great psychoanalyst, contends that this is the dominant impulse. Sigmund Freud used to contend that sex was the dominant impulse, and Adler came with a new argument saying that this quest for recognition, this desire for attention, this desire for distinction is the basic impulse, the basic drive of human life, this drum major instinct.

And you know, we begin early to ask life to put us first. Our first cry as a baby was a bid for attention. And all through childhood the drum major impulse or instinct is a major obsession. Children ask life to grant them first place. They are a little bundle of ego. And they have innately the drum major impulse or the drum major instinct.

Now, in adult life, we still have it, and we really never get by it. We like to do something good. And you know, we like to be praised for it. Now if you don’t believe that, you just go on living life, and you will discover very soon that you like to be praised. Everybody likes it, as a matter of fact. And somehow this warm glow we feel when we are praised or when our name is in print is something of the vitamin A to our ego. Nobody is unhappy when they are praised, even if they know they don’t deserve it and even if they don’t believe it. The only unhappy people about praise is when that praise is going too much toward somebody else. But everybody likes to be praised because of this real drum major instinct.

Now the presence of the drum major instinct is why so many people are “joiners.” You know, there are some people who just join everything. And it’s really a quest for attention and recognition and importance. And they get names that give them that impression. So you get your groups, and they become the “Grand Patron,” and the little fellow who is henpecked at home needs a chance to be the “Most Worthy of the Most Worthy” of something. It is the drum major impulse and longing that runs the gamut of human life. And so we see it everywhere, this quest for recognition. And we join things, overjoin really, that we think that we will find that recognition in.

There comes a time that the drum major instinct can become destructive. And that’s where I want to move now. I want to move to the point of saying that if this instinct is not harnessed, it becomes a very dangerous, pernicious instinct. For instance, if it isn’t harnessed, it causes one’s personality to become distorted. I guess that’s the most damaging aspect of it: what it does to the personality. If it isn’t harnessed, you will end up day in and day out trying to deal with your ego problem by boasting. Have you ever heard people that—you know, and I’m sure you’ve met them—that really become sickening because they just sit up all the time talking about themselves? And they just boast and boast and boast, and that’s the person who has not harnessed the drum major instinct.

Now the other thing is, that it leads to tragic—and we’ve seen it happen so often—tragic race prejudice. Many who have written about this problem—Lillian Smith used to say it beautifully in some of her books. And she would say it to the point of getting men and women to see the source of the problem. Do you know that a lot of the race problem grows out of the drum major instinct? A need that some people have to feel superior. A need that some people have to feel that they are first, and to feel that their white skin ordained them to be first. And they have said over and over again in ways that we see with our own eyes. In fact, not too long ago, a man down in Mississippi said that God was a charter member of the White Citizens Council. And so God being the charter member means that everybody who’s in that has a kind of divinity, a kind of superiority. And think of what has happened in history as a result of this perverted use of the drum major instinct. It has led to the most tragic prejudice, the most tragic expressions of man’s inhumanity to man.

And not only does this thing go into the racial struggle, it goes into the struggle between nations. And I would submit to you this morning that what is wrong in the world today is that the nations of the world are engaged in a bitter, colossal contest for supremacy. And if something doesn’t happen to stop this trend, I’m sorely afraid that we won’t be here to talk about Jesus Christ and about God and about brotherhood too many more years. If somebody doesn’t bring an end to this suicidal thrust that we see in the world today, none of us are going to be around, because somebody’s going to make the mistake through our senseless blunderings of dropping a nuclear bomb somewhere. And then another one is going to drop. And don’t let anybody fool you, this can happen within a matter of seconds. They have twenty-megaton bombs in Russia right now that can destroy a city as big as New York in three seconds, with everybody wiped away, and every building. And we can do the same thing to Russia and China.

But this is why we are drifting. And we are drifting there because nations are caught up with the drum major instinct. “I must be first.” “I must be supreme.” “Our nation must rule the world.” And I am sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit. And I’m going to continue to say it to America, because I love this country too much to see the drift that it has taken.

God didn’t call America to do what she’s doing in the world now. God didn’t call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war as the war in Vietnam. And we are criminals in that war. We’ve committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I’m going to continue to say it. And we won’t stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation.

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize— that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others.

I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question.

I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry.

And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked.

I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison.

I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say.

American Injustic-volume 1
American Injustic-volume 2

Fitton Books by Robert P. Fitton

American Injustice-volumes 1 and 2 available spring of 2022.