At this moment when we are facing less openness from government than ever before, less transparency, and less respect for history, as we are passing the torch to a new generation of researchers, it seems appropriate to remember what this field of study owes to Jim Garrison.
Over the past decade, we have witnessed a profusion of books characterized by sloppy research and errors passed down from one book to another. In their effort to insist that Lyndon Johnson and his lawyer or factotum in Texas, Cliff Carter, was alone responsible for the Kennedy assassination, they ignore the Garrison findings as if they didn’t exist. Not a one refers either to Garrison or to the intelligence community involvement – this is a given of these books that insist that the assassination was an expression of “Texas Justice.”
In these scenarios, a good number of which were self-published, only Texans were involved in the planning and implementation of the assassination. All ignore, as if it never occurred, Oswald’s activities in New Orleans and Louisiana in the summer of 1963. The “Texas researchers,” and they multiply every year, studiously avoid Jim Garrison and the truths he discovered, almost as if they were written precisely to discredit the Garrison work.
Allow me to add that had Jim Garrison not reached some dead ends, had some of his insights not gone nowhere, he would not have been an honest investigator. A startling example was his charging of Edgar Eugene Bradley. Garrison apologized to Bradley, who forgave him, as Bradley told me. As Robert J. Kleberg, Jr., says in The Great Game In Cuba, “The road to progress is paved with mistakes.” The significance of the Garrison investigation does not reside in Jim Garrison’s always having been right.
There is one way to remedy the injustice of history written without scholarly standards. That is for those beginning this research today, to whom we are passing the torch, to arm themselves with at least some of the disciplines that alone will liberate them from such pseudo-research as that coming out of Texas
Go to law school. Go to medical school ( to cite two examples, Dr. Cyril Wecht is a paradigm with his degrees in both fields; Walt Brown has a Ph.D., 4 Master’s degrees and served with the FBI. Get a Ph.D. in history so that you are schooled in the agonies of scholarship. Spend some time studying the methodology of law enforcement. Then comes the task of interpreting evidence once you recognize it. Consider whether the person you are interviewing is speaking against his own interest, as was Thomas Edward Beckham when he spoke to me.
I interviewed retired FBI agent Warren de Brueys, who was Lee Harvey Oswald’s handler in New Orleans, several times. If you recall, de Brueys was sent to Dallas the day after the assassination to compile a dossier about Oswald, a huge document that became known as Commission Document 75, dated December 2, 1963.
Not surprisingly, in our interviews Mr. de Brueys did not contradict the testimony he gave before several government bodies: he did not know Oswald. He never met Oswald.
I asked him whether he was the person who sent Oswald to Carlos Bringuier’s store – this was shortly after de Breuys had told Bringuier, “I can infiltrate you any time.” I had interviewed Carlos Bringuier at his home in Gretna, and that was what he told me. Carlos Bringuier was incredulous. De Brueys had said to Bringuier, “I can infiltrate you any time.” And then, lo and behold, Oswald had appeared at his door.
De Brueys smiled. He did not deny that he had sent Oswald to Bringuier’s store. He just said, “That’s far fetched.” Mr. de Brueys preferred not to lie outright when it wasn’t necessary. Then, just before my book went to press, I called him and asked whether he had anything he wanted to say.
“A person would not be very intelligent if after all this time he didn’t change his mind,” de Brueys said. This was a wink to me for all my trouble. It is not evidence.
In the eight years since the publication of “A Farewell To Justice,” monitoring, as best as I could, the releases that were issuing from the Agencies to the National Archives, and with the results of Freedom of Information inquiries – let me say that everything that has come to my attention only confirms the validity of Jim Garrison’s certainty that there was an intelligence component both to the murder of President Kennedy and to the cover-up of what happened during the assassination.
For those not familiar with the Garrison investigation, the most controversial choice Jim Garrison made, and the one that led to a CIA harassment that continued until long after his death, was to arrest Clay Shaw, the director of the International Trade Mart, for participation in a conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy. (When I mentioned that I was working on a book about Garrison to the late New York Times columnist, Anthony Lewis, at a conference at NYU on the subject of 9/11, Lewis literally turned white. CIA’s friends in the media continued in their efforts to discredit Jim Garrison long after his death).
Garrison could place Shaw with a “Leon” Oswald in two venues: one was a party at the apartment of David Ferrie. Garrison’s source was a young man named Perry Russo, whose testimony was challenged then and later. A significant participant in the fierce effort to discredit Russo was Walter Sheridan, who could boast of having worked for NSA, CIA, FBI and god knows who else. He was also Robert Kennedy’s right hand man. When Jim Garrison charged Sheridan, RFK came to his aid. (There was no law against obstruction of justice in Louisiana at the time – Garrison had to come up with other charges against Sheridan).
I used a Lynn Pelham photograph of Russo in Garrison’s office on the cover of the new edition of my book in part to return some credibility to Russo. (Lynn Pelham took those photographs for a Life magazine story that never appeared. He gave them to me without charge because he was a supporter of Jim Garrison).
I found a friend of David Ferrie’s named John Wilson (someone Jim Garrison never interviewed) and who had seen Oswald both handing out “Fair Play For Cuba” leaflets on Canal Street and at Ferrie’s apartment. Wilson wasn’t present on the evening when Clay Shaw stated what his alibi would be on the day of the assassination, but for me that Wilson placed Oswald at Ferrie’s apartment went some way to enhancing Russo’s credibility.
In addition to Russo’s testimony, the other evidence that Garrison had relied upon was the appearance of Clay Shaw, along with Oswald and David Ferrie, in Clinton and Jackson, Louisiana. One of Shaw’s lawyers, Salvatore Panzeca told me that “Clinton never happened.” He had to have known otherwise; the outright lie reveals the desperation of the Shaw camp.
The testimony of the Clinton witnesses at the Shaw trial testifying that they saw Shaw, Ferrie and Oswald together up there -alone provides the overt act that should have convicted Clay Shaw of participation in a conspiracy involving “Oswald.” It did not depend upon whether Oswald actually killed President Kennedy.
So devastating was the testimony of the Clinton witnesses, African American and white, that when, almost a decade later, the House Select Committee on Assassinations sent Patricia Orr, one of its staff, up to Clinton & Jackson, she was given strict instructions not to interview anyone up there who had NOT been interviewed by Jim Garrison.
The Clinton evidence was to be contained. This eliminated a major witness, Dr. Frank Silva, the medical director of the East Louisiana State Hospital at Jackson where Oswald was sent to apply for a job. This, Oswald learned when he got up there, was a mental hospital.
After the trial of Clay Shaw, where he was acquitted, jurors expressed their bewilderment as to motive. Respectable socialite Clay Shaw, it strained credulity as to why he would become involved in the murder of the President. Jim Garrison believed that Shaw was acting as Oswald’s shepherd in New Orleans, under instructions from CIA. But he couldn’t prove it, certainly not beyond a reasonable doubt.
At that time, in the late 1960’s, few knew how CIA was configured, how the Agency was structured, making if very difficult for Garrison’s view to be accepted. I devoted a long section of the new edition of “A Farewell to Justice” to anatomizing just a portion of how CIA works – from its own documents. The Garrison investigation asks us to turn our attention to CIA and how it figures in the configuration of U. S. power, then, and now.
I note that the DD/P, as the clandestine services were then known, – the letters stand for “Deputy Director for Plans,” a euphemism then for the clandestine services – at the time presided over fifteen components. The DDI (Directorate for Intelligence) and the DD/P operated entirely independently of each other. Some of the funds destined for clandestine operations were unvouchered. If you were of career status, of course, you were paid on the books.
Another “world within the world” (to borrow from Don DeLillo’s novel about the Kennedy assassination, “Libra”) was the Security Research Staff of the Office of Security which shared information with only one other component, CI/SIG, Counter Intelligence, Special Investigation Group.
The Office of Security and its SRS (Security Research Staff headed by General Paul Gaynor and his deputy Bruce Solie was the only component to share information with James Angleton’s Counter Intelligence, Special Investigations Group (SIG). It is instructive to look into how CIA avoided compliance with the Church Committee’s requests bearing on the Kennedy assassination. One handwritten sheet issued from Bruce Solie, at the Security Research Staff of the Office of Security. It refers to “sensitive documents which were pulled from O.S. files prior to their being reviewed by Frank Church’s Senate Select Committee.”
There were two figures about whom CIA was worried and decided to protect. One was marked the “Oswald File,” and contained documents dating from April 1959, prior to Oswald’s departure for the Soviet Union, a period for which CIA insisted it had no knowledge of him.
The other file CIA concealed from the Church committee had to do with “Jack Martin,” who figured prominently in Jim Garrison’s investigation. The Office of Security revealed it had denied the Church Committee four sets of records from its “Vol. VI.” These files referred to a man named “Jack Martin” or “John G. Martin” or “Joseph James Martin.”
Of all the people CIA felt it necessary to shield, they chose two: not surprisingly, one was Oswald. The other was Jack Martin – which may be surprising – rather than, for example, David Ferrie or even Clay Shaw. We see the same CIA protection of Jack Martin in documents included in Russ Holmes’ Clay Shaw file. There are pages listing the names of people associated – “directly or indirectly” –this is CIA’s language – with Shaw. Each of the names was then subjected to a name trace through CIA’s “Records Integration Division.” (RID). The only name that would not be subjected to a trace was – “Jack Martin.”
Another CIA document refers to the Agency’s use of the name “Jack Martin” as a “generic,” which was their term. As Louisiana HSCA investigator L. J. Delsa, a former New Orleans homicide officer, explained to me, this was so you could never be certain you were dealing with the correct Jack Martin. CIA need not fear that its relationship with the New Orleans Jack would become known. Delsa concluded that Jack Martin was “hard core” CIA.
It was Jack Martin who first informed Garrison’s office that Oswald and David Ferrie knew each other,- this was on the day after the assassination. It was Jack Martin who functioned in New Orleans as the handler of a figure named Thomas Edward Beckham. None of these documents originating with CIA were available to Jim Garrison during his investigation or later – he continued his work for years after Clay Shaw was acquitted. Yet he would not have been surprised by any of the revelations contained therein.
I would urge future researchers to re-examine Jack Martin and investigate some of his assertions: among them was that Bobby Kennedy’s right hand man, Walter Sheridan, functioned as a “hatchet man” for Kim Philby, the MI6 agent who penetrated high CIA circles before he vanished behind the iron curtain.
As many here know, the prosecution did not raise the issue of Clay Shaw’s relationship with CIA at the Shaw trial. It was Shaw’s lawyer, Irvin Dymond who asked Shaw, “Have you ever worked for the Central Intelligence Agency?” Shaw replied: “No, I have not.”
As recently as last May 2013, a writer named Donald H. Carpenter self-published a biography of Clay Shaw in which he repeats the disinformation that CIA utilized Shaw only for debriefings, as a “source” of no greater importance than many others. A CIA document dated 1992 tells a different story. This document, issuing from CIA’s History Review Staff, or Historical Review Group, among its PROJFILES at once demolishes the defenders of Clay Shaw. Of course it begins with a disclaimer: Nothing was found in the records, CIA writes, “that indicates any CIA role in the Kennedy assassination or assassination conspiracy (if there was one) or any CIA involvement with Oswald.”
CIA’s History Staff chief, J. Kenneth McDonald, then continues with this jaw dropping line: “These records do reveal, however, that Clay Shaw was a highly paid CIA contract source until 1956.” The key words are “highly paid” and “contract.” Shaw may not have been a 9 to 5 “employee,” but he certainly enjoyed a complex relationship with that Agency.
The 1956 end date we can easily discount. As I showed in “A Farewell To Justice,” William Gaudet, a CIA asset, who was based at Shaw’s International Trade Mart in New Orleans, noted that the end dates CIA gave to his service were always inaccurate, and, in effect, there was no end date at all.
The document is genuine. Historians, particularly CIA historians, would not put this fact in print unless some document existed confirming Shaw’s CIA status. More, this was an internal CIA document, part of CIA’s ProjFiles (project files), administrative records never meant for release. It is evidence against interest, since CIA stated in other places that they had nothing to do with Shaw except for routine debriefings and nothing to do of course with the JFK assassination. I don’t believe, as some have suggested, that this document was kicked around on the Lancer Forum in 2004 and 2005.
In another example of the inaccuracy of the end dates CIA attached to its documents, the end date of Herman Brown’s – Brown was the founder of Brown & Root – service to the clandestine services is listed on a CIA document as 15 February 1966, four years after his death. Herman Brown was the founder of Brown & Root, and a long-time asset of several components of CIA. The documents that I have seen do not describe for us how Herman and George Brown were utilized. They do reveal that both Herman and his brother George Brown, as well as a long list of Brown & Root executives, were granted CIA clearances as contacts of the DD/P.
When Jim Garrison read the December 1967 issue of Ramparts magazine, which featured a story called “Building Lyndon Johnson,” with its sub-section, “The CIA’s Brown & Root Dimensions,” he drew a line between Oswald, CIA, George Brown and Lyndon Johnson. It was Garrison’s questions, and his daring to invoke the name “George Brown” that led CIA to release the document that outlined its long-time relationship with Herman and George Brown.
I number these releases – there is a sizable file of CIA records relating to Brown & Root – as among the achievements of Jim Garrison. Many of these documents bear the subject line “Possible Attempt to Embarrass Agency.” They expose once more how far CIA had moved from being the intelligence-gathering service it long pretended to be. They illuminate how deeply CIA was connected to the country’s defense contractors, a penetration that began in the early 1950’s with CIA operations in Syria on behalf of Bechtel and of course in Iran with the overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.
Garrison’s work unlocked doors previously closed to history. He could not have known that records would be released under a JFK Act that had nothing directly to do with the Kennedy assassination. These records, peripheral to the assassination itself, widen significantly the scope of what we know about the role of the intelligence services in the power structure of the United States. These records also reveal how defense contractors like Brown & Root functioned as members of the U.S. military, in a symbiotic relationship.
By now much of this has become common knowledge, but it was not so in Jim Garrison’s time. Jim Garrison was so despised by CIA because in the course of his investigation he was moving ever closer to a more realistic view of how power worked in America, a discovery inspired by President Kennedy’s own warfare with CIA.
Had Jim Garrison had access to the document stating that Clay Shaw was “a highly paid CIA contract source,” he could have convicted Clay Shaw of perjury on the spot. CIA’s admission of Shaw’s employment goes a long way to clarifying why Shaw should have been traversing the rural Louisiana countryside north of Baton Rouge in the company of a man half his age who possessed neither the education, social connections nor savoir faire Shaw would have preferred in an acquaintance. He was not befriending Lee Oswald based on his own choice or preference, or because Oswald was a potential sexual partner. Clay Shaw was on assignment.
When Shaw answered a call from Garrison assistant Richard Burnes, who asked for a “John Shaw,” Shaw replied, “Who sent you?” There is considerable evidence that Clay Shaw was serving another master. And we have, famously, that moment at CIA where Richard Helms asked his assistant, Thomas Karamessines, “Are we doing enough for that guy down there?”
Another CIA document, released in 2003 and dated June 28, 1978, describes Clay Shaw’s service to CIA as running from 1949 through 1972, which is more realistic. (Shaw died in August 1974). It indicates that Shaw was serving the SAG, Security Analysis Group, of the Office of Security. So we now have Shaw files from at least three CIA components: the clandestine services, the Office of Security, and the Domestic Contact Service.
The Office of Security had a separate office in every city where CIA had a field office. This included New Orleans. It was through this office that CIA monitored Garrison, and through which it utilized its Confidential Correspondents Group of assets to penetrate Garrison’s office.
This 1978 document confirms that Clay Shaw’s CIA contact in New Orleans was Hunter Leake, second in command at CIA’s New Orleans field office. Leake’s son, Rob, has talked about how his father reminisced about his knowledge of Oswald, but not for publication. As we pass the torch, I hope someone can persuade Rob Leake to talk fully about his father’s close acquaintance with Oswald. He has indicated that he has much to tell.
It is no wonder, then, that CIA would let loose its media assets to counter Garrison’s view that Shaw was working for them in framing Lee Harvey Oswald. Book after book denied that Shaw was involved in any way but – “routinely”- debriefed. It’s significant that a slew of books all manage to enlist that adverb “routinely” making it seem, forgive me, that there was a “conspiracy” to free Shaw from any association with CIA.
Jim Garrison was certain of Oswald’s intelligence connections. It remains difficult even now, forty-four years after the Shaw trial, to pin these down. In the update to “A Farewell To Justice,” I tried to clarify Oswald’s intelligence connections by suggesting that he was debriefed by the Soviet Russia component, SR6’s Eleanor Reed, who used the pseudo “Anderson.” (SR6 was the “Soviet Realities” branch, and focused on the details of everyday life in the USSR). We do have the declassified documents of Reed’s debriefing of Robert Webster, a fellow false defector.
The language of Eleanor Reed’s reports of those debriefings bears a remarkable resemblance to the Warren Commission’s language in its descriptions of its lone assassin. Webster is described as “a self-centered and shallow person who is unequipped to handle the stress of everyday living; tension and time tend to overwhelm him….” Reid concludes that Webster is a “sociopath.”
Jim Garrison observed that not only was Oswald never alone during his time in New Orleans, but he was never with anyone who was not with CIA. This sounds like hyperbole, but isn’t. It’s worth referencing a CIA Cover and Routing Sheet dated May 31, 1960. It issues from the Oswald 201 file 289248 and indicates that CIA’s counter intelligence division was well aware of Oswald many months before December 1960 when it acknowledged that it had opened an Oswald file.
This document references the initials JP,” suggesting “Jerry Prehn,” an agency employee at the time. (CIA dates Prehen’s service as beginning in 1963 – for what it’s worth). The routing sheet was released also by CIA’s Historical Review Program. “JP” is the fifth person to whom this document was routed, and he was at SR9, the very powerful operations component of the Soviet Russia division.
Just to give us an idea of what we’re up against. When I telephoned Mr. Prehn in 2012, – he was now eighty years old – he did not deny that he had been with CIA at the time. He did deny that he was the “J.P.” on this document. He did not deny that SR9, the Special Operations branch of the Soviet Russia division had knowledge of Oswald in 1960.
A supposedly disgruntled former Marine and hapless defector, Oswald has his file shuffling up and down various components within CIA. Information about Oswald crossed the desks of those attached to the most sensitive part of the Soviet Russia division, SR9, Soviet Russia Internal Operations. Years later, at the last minute, CIA’s OIM, Office of Information Management, finally revealed to the ARRB that there was indeed an Office of Security File on Oswald. Unfortunately when the seven volume set arrived at the ARRB, Volume 5 was missing. CIA twisted itself into a pretzel trying to explain the missing volume including in one explanation that “it may never have existed” and it was absent due to faulty numbering.
This file resided in the Security Office of CIA and remained there until someone on the ARRB discovered HSCA documents which detailed the fact that HSCA had access to Oswald’s security office file. All of this penetration into Oswald’s intelligence history affirms the validity of Jim Garrison’s approach. In terms of witness testimony, in the summer of 1962, CIA employee Donald Deneselya witnessed a CIA document describing the debriefing of a nameless defector who was based at the Minsk Radio Plant; that document has not surfaced.
Deneselya considered coming forward to Jim Garrison with information about CIA’s knowledge of Oswald. He thought about describing the document relating to Oswald’s having been debriefed by the Agency. (Before the Church committee, CIA counter intelligence chief James Angleton explicitly denied that CIA had debriefed Oswald, an outright lie).
Then Deneselya changed his mind, as we know so many New Orleans witnesses had done. He feared for the safety of his family, he says, and so kept silent. This renders all the more remarkable the information that Garrison did collect.
CIA releases allow us to connect Thomas Edward Beckham’s handler, Fred Lee Crisman, with Clay Shaw. The Louisiana investigators for HSCA, L. J. Delsa and Robert Buras, were forbidden to investigate a figure in whom Garrison was interested named Fred Lee Crisman. “I hate to think about those days,” Buras told me recently, “because we had no chance.”
Garrison had brought Crisman before the Orleans Parish grand jury. By this time, in 1968, his investigation had run out of steam and Crisman lied his way through Jimmy Alcock’s questions.
Garrison remained interested in Crisman, and so, after “A Farewell to Justice” was published, the distinguished freedom of information lawyer, Daniel Alcorn, who will be chairing a panel this afternoon, requested of CIA on my behalf what they had on Jack Martin and Fred Lee Crisman.
It was said that the first person Clay Shaw telephoned after he was arrested by Jim Garrison was Fred Lee Crisman, reason enough for further inquiry into the character of Fred Lee Crisman. Dan Alcorn requested “all records related to Jack S. Martin and name variations and aliases provided, Joseph James Martin and Fred Lee Crisman who was “an acquaintance of Martin.”
Alcorn told CIA that Thomas Edward Beckham had “claimed that Martin and Crisman were his CIA handlers.” Alcorn included for CIA’s Central Cover Staff records that reflected three CIA- connected Jack Martins and he listed their Agency Identification Numbers, which we had from the National Archives.
“All intelligence people are good con men,” L. J. Delsa remarked to me. That we are associating con men like Beckham and Crisman with CIA would not surprise anyone in law enforcement.
CIA sent a medium sized file in response to Alcorn’s FOIA suit. I call your attention to one Official Routing Skip dated February 16, 1970 contained in this file. It suggests that the Soviet Russia Division’s Counter Intelligence component had set up at least one file on Fred Lee Crisman. He was hardly a stranger to the Agency.
Many of the documents were already available in the National Archives. There was one document that I had not seen, although it had been approved for release in 1993. It is stamped “CIA Historical Review Program.” It is a two page single-spaced letter to a “Mrs. Banfield” from a writer who is an Agency employee, but prefers not to sign his name.
The letter is dated September 13, 1969, the year of the Shaw trial. Some have said it is a forgery. I don’t see why. It’s interesting to me because it demonstrates that Jim Garrison was on the right track by zeroing in on Beckham and Crisman.
The letter to “Mrs. Banfield” comes with an Official Routing slip on which the author has written: “OP’s set up file on Fred Lee CRISMAN. Send file to me.” Apparently Mrs. Banfield has requested a trace on Crisman. The author has had difficulty in accessing the appropriate files. “This man, Crisman,” the author writes, “is a man that is dangerous to the future of America.” He terms Crisman “A disruption agent.”
The writer of the letter suggests that there was disagreement within the Agency regarding assignments tendered to operatives domestically.” Note: CIA never obeyed the stricture in its charter that it operate only abroad and not conduct operations within the U.S.
The author says of Crisman, “He represents no one but a section of the C.I.A.” (The use of the definite article there gives me pause…but there are books by CIA people that do preface CIA with “the.”
In response to the Garrison investigation, CIA at once issued a denial that Crisman was one of their own, a disclaimer we take with a grain of salt. This disclaimer came from Howard J. Osborn, then the Director of the Office of Security.
Contradicting itself, knowing there would be no accountability, CIA included in the FOIA release a document referring to “copies of DCD information pertaining to F. Lee Crisman referring to activities during 1966-1968.” Another document offers a list of ten Agency-connected people that includes, along with Crisman, known CIA contract personnel like Frank Bartes and Lawrence Laborde. (Laborde figures in my book The Great Game In Cuba where I describe how he was on the CIA payroll while working with Cuban exile Alberto Fernandez).
A person who contacted me after the publication of A Farewell To Justice was an Alabama judge named Charles McKnight, recently retired. McKnight had represented Thomas Edward Beckham on a wire fraud charge regarding concert proceeds not paid. At the time, McKnight had just completed a clerkship with a federal judge and was practicing law. He decided to check out everything Beckham told him. Everything checked out.
Thomas Edward Beckham told McKnight something he didn’t tell me during our interviews: he had been in Dallas on November 22, 1963, and he had seen Oswald there. A year after McKnight represented Oswald, his office was what he called “sanitized” and Beckham’s file was taken.
Judge McKnight involved the FBI to help him track down Beckham. The agent said, “Let me tell you something. He doesn’t exist.” Shortly after that, Beckham sent McKnight the gift of a chess set. I mention all this to suggest that the Garrison investigation bears further study as we “pass the torch,” and offers far more promising insights into the circumstances surrounding the Kennedy assassination than the Texas research.
The Clinton-Jackson visit by Clay Shaw, David Ferrie and Lee Harvey Oswald also suggests further opportunities for research. When I was in Clinton last, I was told that Oswald’s girlfriend, whose name was Gloria Wilson, and whose name appears in the Garrison files, had been murdered. A local resident named Hadley Hudnall knew that Oswald had sometimes stayed with Gloria on St. Helena Street, three blocks east of Clinton Courthouse, where we were talking.
I heard from Al Crouch, who owned Saturn Aviation and who had fired David Ferrie. When Crouch received calls from both the FBI and CIA, he knew enough to put David Ferrie’s log books in a floor safe. Indeed, the log books survived a break-in.
After that, Crouch contacted Garrison’s office. Here luck intervenes, or bad luck. Crouch reached the traitorous William Gurvich, or possibly his brother Leonard, because soon both of them arrived at Crouch’s office. The Gurviches told him that they worked for Jim Garrison and he handed the log books over to them, believing they would give them to Jim Garrison.
Of course the log books were never seen again. After that Crouch received an anonymous telephone call. “You have my log books,” the caller said. Then the person added. “Do you have a little girl about three years old who rides a bicycle?” After that, Crouch kept silent. “I felt like a dead man,” he said.
Minnesota psychologist Gary Schoener had brought documents to Tulane and Broad connecting Ruby and Oswald, documents that supported evidence Garrison already had of Ruby and Oswald being well acquainted. These documents came from Margaret Hoover of Martinsburg , Pennsylvania, who had found a slip of paper with the names “Ruby” and “Oswald” and the name “Silver Slipper.” She discovered this and several other items in the partially burned trash of her Cuban neighbor Julio Cesar Fernandez. Schoener placed several of these documents in Garrison’s safe. By the next morning they had vanished.
Such were the obstacles Jim Garrison faced. And he faced trouble even after his death. Judge Denis A. Barry, who had years earlier been Garrison’s law partner, and had served in the District Attorney’s office for a time, told me a “major personality” from a “major news organization,” had telephoned Orleans Parish coroner Frank Minyard and offered him money to say that the autopsy of Jim Garrison revealed that he had died of AIDS.
I asked Barry: Was it Dan Rather? Was it Scott Malone, who told me that Garrison had made sexual overtures toward him (this is inconceivable). Barry left it at that, but someone might ask Dr. Minyard for further clarification. Incidents like this suggest how close Jim Garrison was coming to the truth about the Kennedy assassination and how important it was to those responsible to discredit him down the years.
Fifty years later, we still await the release to the National Archives of essential records. In terms of the Garrison case, we need the transcripts of the officers of U.S. Customs and of the INS that I first discussed in A Farewell To Justice, particularly the Church committee testimony of Wendell Roache of the INS. To complicate matters, there was a David Smith working for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, as it was then known, and another David Smith working for U.S. Customs. Warren de Brueys and the Customs Officer David Smith enjoyed a close relationship.
We need the testimony of bar owner Orestes Pena, who talked about how Lee Harvey Oswald was seen often in the company of INS and Customs people. Most of the missing material relating to Oswald was from the Immigration and Naturalization service. More INS testimony is missing from Church files than is Customs records.
I would also like to see the testimony of Philippe de Vosjoli, the French intelligence liaison to CIA. We have the summary but not the actual deposition.
Soldier of fortune Gerald Patrick Hemming has been thoroughly discredited. Why then is his testimony still classified? And there are files that remain closed, often marked with the letters NBR, “not believed relevant.” It is, obviously, up to historians, not the government, to decide what is relevant.
I hope that I have offered suggestions for research in New Orleans to those to whom we are passing the torch. We are in a period now of less, not greater openness and transparency than when we began. The challenge is more daunting. One option that is no longer available – is giving up.
Joan Mellen, Pennington, New Jersey
PANEL PRESENTATION: THE RELEVANCE OF THE GARRISON INVESTIGATION TO TODAY’s WORLD [Joan Mellen]
The most significant achievement of the Garrison investigation, the lessons we have learned or should have learned to help guide us through the perilous present, was to call our attention to the role of the intelligence agencies, especially CIA, in the lead-up to the Kennedy assassination and to its cover-up. It was the Garrison investigation that encouraged us examine CIA’s politics and its exercise of power which today is far more overt than it was in President Kennedy’s time.
Here is Don DeLillo writing from Larry Parmenter’s point of view. The model for Parmenter was David Atlee Phillips: “Everyone was a spook or dupe or asset, a double, courier, cutout or defector, or was related to one. We were all linked in a vast and rhythmic coincident, a daisy chain of rumor, suspicion and secret wish.” Libra, p. 57. This is the world to which Jim Garrison opened the door.
It was Jim Garrison who demanded that we look at Lee Oswald’s connections to the FBI, CIA and U.S. Customs and so provided a wider view of the meaning of the murder of President Kennedy. By focusing on CIA, Jim Garrison helps us today to contrast the values of President Kennedy with Presidents today who do not question the ceding of their power to the corporations and the Agency that operates in their interests with the assistance of the military. I still love the quote that soldier of fortune Gerald Patrick Hemming gave me: President Kennedy was “the last president who thought he could take power.”
In 1956 David K. E. Bruce, on assignment from President Eisenhower, wrote a blistering attack on the clandestine services. Eisenhower had first enlisted James Doolittle, the general who led an air raid of sixteen bombers on Japanese cities on April 18, 1942, a retaliation by President Roosevelt for Pearl Harbor, for this task. With the assistance of Allen Dulles, Doolittle produced a whitewash, justifying all manner of CIA operations, and hiding behind George Kennan’s 10/2 document.
In contrast, Bruce denounced CIA’s “rogue elephant” operations, and CIA’s “increased mingling in the internal affairs of other countries,” its “King-making propensities.” Bruce wrote that the clandestine services were “responsible for stirring up the turmoil and raising the doubts about us that exist in many countries of the world today,” (how prescient this was!) and that CIA possessed “almost unilaterial influence…on the actual formulation of our foreign policies.”
That CIA has assumed enormous power today, that it can sanitize library records and Internet web sites easily, is reflected in the fate of the Bruce-Lovett report. The “Bruce-Lovett” report, has disappeared off the face of the earth. [Arthur Schlesinger found a copy in the Robert Kennedy papers at the Kennedy library. It has long since disappeared. I tried the Bruce papers at the University of Virginia, the Lovett papers, the Eisenhower archives, the Schlesinger papers at CUNY and the National Archives. No Bruce-Lovett report].
In the authorized history by Anne Karalekas, CIA simply pretends this document did not exist. CIA gave Tim Weiner, author of “Legacy of Ashes,” a highly redacted version of the report, a version bereft of David Bruce’s passion and his insights. This shamefully eviscerated document resides in the notes of Weiner’s book, without authorial indignation.
But we should have been prepared in the millennium for the resurgence of CIA as it resumed the policy-making that so appalled President Kennedy. Jim Garrison helped us to focus on CIA as we encounter this Agency in the second decade of the millennium where it has promoted a politics of preemptive strikes and permanent war. So CIA arms “rebels” in Libya and Syria. There are about one hundred CIA people on the ground now in Syria. It is CIA that has fought in its own name in Afghanistan, a far cry from the CIA in President Kennedy’s time that shielded its operations with secrecy. Jim Garrison would not have been surprised.
If you like, emboldened by the fact that the Warren Commission and HSCA could not or would not connect CIA to the Kennedy assassination, this Agency embraced a new and defiant openness. CIA hired the Blackwater soldiers of fortune in its own name. There had always been a question about CIA accountability –– now there is less than none.
Jim Garrison’s focus on CIA asks that we examine more closely the relationship between CIA and the military. When we do, we discover that the military, taking second place, functions to implement CIA policies. Research reveals that CIA uses the military as cover for its operatives.
The classic example is General Edward Lansdale. When Lansdale was up for promotion as a Brigadier General, and his superiors at the Pentagon were dubious, it was Allen Dulles who shepherded his promotion through by lobbying the generals. Is Oliver Stone wrong in his suggestion that Lansdale was at the scene of the Kennedy assassination? I call your attention to the letter of General Brute Krulak to Fletcher Prouty. Krulak writes, examining a photograph of November 22nd: “It’s Lansdale. What in the world was he doing there?”
Garrison suggested that President Kennedy’s anger at CIA for its defiance of his orders and his power inspired his murder. No President since John F. Kennedy has dared to stand up to CIA. George W. Bush created a Director of National Intelligence to cut into CIA power – CIA supposedly was no longer to be in charge of all the other intelligence agencies. The idea originated with President Kennedy. By the time of the millennium it was already too late.
Barack Obama has been supine, endorsing whatever CIA wanted. So we hear Leon Panetta, then Director of CIA (the title changed from Director of Central Intelligence), but not the power, signaling this truth in his reaction to a United Nations report that complained about CIA’s drone program. Panetta asserted: “CIA “would not be hung out to dry…while President Obama was in office.”
At one of his first Situation Room meetings, Obama announced: “The C.I.A. gets what it needs” and it was Obama who first authorized CIA to “greatly expand” its drone program. As if it were the shadow government President Truman termed it, CIA replied that it “does not comment publicly on its drone program.”
Even a Brookings Institution scholar, P. W. Singer, no leftist, registered alarm at CIA resurgence: “What we’re seeing is something that was once abnormal becoming the new normal, not just in counter-terrorism, but in warfare over all.” What would President Kennedy have thought had he known that CIA would supervise torture programs in Vietnam in which 20,000 Vietnamese perished, according to Professor Alfred McCoy. What would President Kennedy have said about CIA’s destroying ninety-two tapes of the tortures at Abu Ghraib?
Obama’s most abhorrent policies reflect the very CIA power that President Kennedy was struggling desperately to contain: in particular the geometric growth in surveillance of American citizens.
During President Kennedy’s time, there was talk over whether we could win in Vietnam. When Douglas MacArthur told Kennedy that we could not win a land war in Asia, he was persuaded finally and irrevocably not to send ground troops into Vietnam. Today we have a new euphemism, “boots on the ground” and the entire concept of “winning” has changed.
As the British defence minister complained in reference to Afghanistan, there would be no “winning of any of these wars.” The concept of winning has changed. Winning is now defined as duration. In permanent war, wars that enrich the defense contractors, victory is defined by how long the war will last, a concept already present in George Orwell’s “1984.”
Under CIA sway, the media has followed suit. In 2009 we saw Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, long a redoubt of Allen Dulles, wrote an op ed piece for the New York Times, titled “There’s No Substitute For Troops On The Ground.” Orwell wrote, “WAR IS PEACE” in the land of big brother. Boot wrote: “Only a troop surge, only by sending more personnel, military and civilian, can President Obama improve the Afghan government’s performance.” All of this analysis derives from Jim Garrison’s investigation and approach.
The consequence of the murder of President Kennedy may be summed up in the advent of a president who has repudiated the U.S. Constitution, despite his having taught courses in constitutional law. How else can we interpret Barack Obama’s authorizing CIA to go out and assassinate an American citizen, the Muslim cleric Anwar al Awlaki who had not committed any crime. Obama ordered the death of Awlaki “no matter where he is found, no matter how distant from a battlefield.” His killing was part of a “presidential assassination program.”
A few weeks later, CIA sent a drone to kill Awlaki’s sixteen year old son, who died along with a cousin while they were at a barbecue. Even “The New York Times” would write, “Is this what America does?” I tip my hat to Glenn Greenwald for his writing on the Awlaki murder. Naturally, the media has attempted to destroy Greenwald: so on “Morning Joe” they decided Greenwald was “not a journalist,” but an activist.
In 1964, right after the Kennedy assassination, Eugene McCarthy accused CIA of “assume[ing] the roles of the President and the Congress,” taking on “the character of an invisible government answering only to itself.” This was the consequence of corrupted investigation into the assassination by the Warren Commission.
Who could have imagined that the assassination of President Kennedy would corrupt the very institution of the presidency, but it did. Where CIA once used “Communism” as a pretext for its Cold War operations, so now we have “terrorism.” When a Director of National Intelligence like Dennis Blair criticized CIA, he was fired, as David Ignatius pointed out in the “Washington Post.”
Can you imagine during President Kennedy’s time, a CIA spokesman going on television, Sixty Minutes no less, as Henry Crumpton did, to justify CIA policies of murder? It is true that CIA was being CIA during President Kennedy’s time – murderous, secretive, policy-making. But its power was miniscule compared to what we see today. Only former Congressman Ron Paul, who has been marginalized by the media, had the courage to speak out and say the obvious. “The CIA runs everything,” Paul said in a speech before his libertarian constituency. “We should take them out.”
We need to listen again to John F. Kennedy’s warnings against CIA – and remember how appalled he was when CIA defied him, as it did, in its assisting in the assassination of Trujillo, and in its withholding intelligence about Soviet missiles placed in Cuba. That the Constitution and civil liberties are today under siege is among the lasting consequences of the people responsible for the murder of President Kennedy having remained unpunished for this treasonous crime.
: “The Times” sees a “transformation” of CIA and “one of the most significant shifts in C.I.A.’s history”: Mark Mazzetti, “C.I.A. Takes On Expanded Role On Front Lines,” The New York Times, January 1, 2010, pp. 1, A12. Already by 1992, CIA had placed KBR and Halliburton in Somalia, Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo. See Pratap Chatterjee, “Iraq, Inc.: A Profitable Occupation,” (Seven Stories Press: New York, 2004). Chatterjee writes that on April 26, 2002, Halliburton arrived at Khanabad Air Base in Uzbekistan to make the first civilian takeover of a military base,” p. 45. Other such privatizations for CIA-connected companies followed.
: Dennis Blair’s “critique of the CIA”: David Ignatius, “Obama Seeks to Reshape Intel Operations With Choice of Clapper,” The Washington Post, Op Ed. June 9, 2010.
: Max Boot, “There’s No Substitute For Troops On The Ground,” The New York Times, October 29, 2009, p. A35. See also: “Pre-empt Preventive War.” Editorial. The Nation, October 29, 2007, Volume 285, Number 13, p. 3.
: war “the normal state of affairs”: Glenn Greenwald on salon.com, September 3, 2009.
: “CIA does not comment publicly on its drone program”: Charlie Savage, “U. N. Report Highly Critical of American Drone Attacks,” The New York Times, June 2, 2010; Christopher Drew, “For Spying and Attacks, Drones Play A Growing Role In Afghanistan,” The New York Times, February 20, 2010, p. A6; Charles Savage, “U. N. Official Wants American Drone Strikes In Hands of Military, Not C.I.A.,” The New York Times, May 28, 2010,p. A8. The NYU professor obviously was unaware of the intimate and seamless long-time symbiotic connection between CIA and the military.
: “an unknown number of ‘future Afghanistans’”: Michael Klare, “Two, Three, Many Afghanistans,” The Nation, April 7, 2010. Twenty-first century deployments include Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Colombia, Djibouti, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, the Philippines, Romania, Somalia, Uganda and Uzbekistan. See Rick Rozoff, “2010: U. S. To Wage War Throughout The World,” Global Research.ca. December 31, 2009. See also: Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe, “U. S. ‘secret war’ expands globally as Special Operations Forces take larger role,” The Washington Post, June 4, 2010.
: Obama authorizes the murder by CIA of Anwar-al-Awlaki far from any battlefield: Glenn Greenwald, “Obama Authorizes Assassination of U. S. Citizen,” April 8, 2010. salon. Com: “no matter where he is found”: Glenn Greenwald, “Confirmed: Obama Authorizes Assassination of U. S. Citizen.” April 7, 2010. 4 pages. Salon.com.
: Anwar al-Awlaki and the justice system: Charlie Savage, “Lawyers Seeking to Take Up Terror Suspect’s Legal Case Sue U. S. For Access,” The New York Times, August 4, 2010, pp. A4, A8.
: “CIA would not be hung out to dry while President Obama was in office”: “In CIA’s drone mission, who will protect the CIA?” by Marc A. Thiessen. June 8, 2010. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/07.
: Obama threatens to veto a new Congressional oversight bill: Massimo Calabresi, “Pelosi Faces Off With Obama On CIA Oversight,” Time magazine, June 25, 2010. Available at http://www.time.com.
: An NYU law professor named Philip Alston wrote a report commissioned by the United Nations on the Pakistan drone program. The report noted that The United States was now first in the world in the number of targeted killings: “U. S. Is World’s Top User Of Targeted Killings, U. N. Says”: CNN Wire Staff. June 2, 2010. Alston complained about CIA’s “ill-defined license to kill without accountability.”
: Courts grant CIA power to suppress evidence of its own criminal activity: “Judge Rules CIA Can Suppress Information About Torture Tapes and Memos,” July 15, 2010. From the ACLU website: http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2010/07/15-19
: “The C.I.A. gets what it needs”: Peter Baker, “Obama’s War Over Terror,” The New York Times Magazine,” January 17, 2010, pp. 30-39; 46-47.
: “boots on the ground”: This locution runs through Bob Woodward’s depiction of the Bush administration’s decision making with regard to Afghanistan in “Bush At War” (Simon & Schuster: New York, 2002). See, for example, pp. 153, 159.
: “The CIA runs everything”: Ron Paul, Address before the Campaign For Liberty Atlanta Regional Conference, January 2010. The speech was available on youtube.
The Krulak letter is dated 15 March 1985.
“The CIA runs everything.”
Texas Congressman Ron Paul, January 2010
“The CIA runs everything,” he declared. “They run the military. They’re the ones who are over there lobbing missiles and bombs on people…They’re in businesses, in the drug business, they take out dictators. They are a government unto themselves.” Ron Paul’s quiet conclusion was that CIA should be abolished. “We should take them out,” he told his cheering audience.
October 18, 2013