An insider's view of Jim Garrison's case against Clay Shaw in the assassination of JFK.

Part 2 of 9

Sep 14, 1967

Mrs Brussell, Mark Lane, Bill Turner, and Bill Boxley all competing with me for a place in my office. In the evening, Turner, Brussell, Boxley and I went out to Garrison's house for what he termed a brainstorming session.

Garrison more or less help the floor and discussed a wide range of topics in his inimitable way. I took the following notes. Dave Ferrie, he said, deposited $7000 in his bank in November, 1963. Garrison added that Ferrie "discontinued his association with Cubans after the assassination." The head of the National States Rights Party was George Soule, and Garrison said they held a convention here in August, 1963, at the Fountainbleau Hotel. This is the same group that was talking about killing Kennedy in Miami and discovered by the Secret Service. (The "Miami tape.") There was then something from G. about this group recently forming the Anglican Old Orthodox Catholic Church, which I couldn't quite follow. Garrison is very interested in these ad hoc church groups, mainly because Ferrie belonged to one. He sees them as covers for espionage and CIA type activity. Garrison believes that the Abundant Light Temple (or some such name) near where Tippit was shot in some way played an important role in the planning and execution of the assassination.

Garrison can sometimes talk extremely amusingly about things like this. You reach a point where, not only do you not believe what he is saying, but you realize he doesn't believe it either. You realize he is just putting on a kind of amusing performance. Often it is difficult to see the dividing line between when he means what he says and when he is joking. I remember once, one Sunday when we were holding staff meetings in the middle of the day, he started to talk to the assembled lawyers about the paramilitary operation in Dealey Plaza. I think everyone was a bit uncomfortable, sensing that Garrison believed what he was saying and that no one else did. Soon, however, he got carried away and was talking about "platoons of National Guardsmen" hiding in churches, "infantry movements", "armored convoys" moving through Dallas, underground canteen facilities in a huge dugout under Dealey Plaza, and so on. Everyone was completely broken up with laughter, which of course Garrison appreciated. He only does this when he is in a good mood.

Tonight, however, he was more serious and concluded about Ferrie: "The lines are gossamer lines, but when you find them they lead from Dave Ferrie to Nazi-ism, Fascism." He added that Ferrie's trip to Houston was "more interesting than if he had gone to Dallas." His phone records for Nov. 1963 were missing too. (Not sure if this is true. I have seen Ferrie's phone records but don't recall.)

"Reily and Monahan were both Directors of the Crime Commission", Garrison said, and added that they worked for the Reily Coffee Co. which employed Oswald. Garrison said that this company "is more that a coffee company."

On July 15, ‘63, there was an Eastern Airlines hearing in Miami regarding Ferrie. Banister testified strongly in Ferrie's favor, and, as Garrison put it, "went way beyond the call of duty." Later that week, G. explained, Oswald says to Adrian Alba: "Pretty soon I'm going to get the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow." Then on Friday he leaves the employ of Reily.

Garrison pointed out that 544 Camp St (which Oswald had on his literature) is the same building as 531 Lafayette, Banister's address. "Guy Banister's office is the key to the case," Garrison said. He may be right. I always feel more comfortable when he talks about Banister because he seems like a good suspect. Garrison then said, "We tunneled (sic) into Dallas from the back." I'm not sure what he meant by this, however.

He said something about there being a statement from a man who says Alba took him to a Minuteman meeting. Conversation turned to the Minutemen type, and the kind of man who is nuts about guns. Garrison's comment: "They ought to get these guys and send them to Vietnam. Give them a physical on the plane." I agree.

Garrison has been doing a great deal of research into the various Ruby or Crafard notebooks published in the 26 vols, and the Oswald address book. He's quite proud of this research, and reckons he's probably the world expert in this sub-topic. (He probably is.) He says the annotation "Midland 2550" occurs in the Crafard book and "Newton 2550" in the Oswald book. Garrison suggest these are "Callsigns" on some radio frequency. (I'm not sure that G is right that both these annotations do occur, but he might be. I checked and could only find one, the Oswald one I think.)

Earlier on, (about a month ago,) a guy called Jim Hicks had come to see Garrison in his office one Saturday afternoon. He said he had been in Dealey Plaza when JFK was shot, although I recall he had 2 versions as to which side of the street he was on. This evening Garrison told us that Hicks has a drunken driving rap hanging over his head. He now wants us to write to the D.A. in Oklahoma to get him off. This is obviously the explanation of Hicks' visit.

Garrison says he is issuing a Grand Jury subpoena for Loran Hall, and then said something about Hall possibly suing him. "He may end up living in this house," Garrison said.

Garrison is more confident these days, since the discovery of the name ‘Clay Bertrand' signed in the airport VIP room guest book, dated Dec 14, 1966.

Sep 15, 1967

‘Plot or Politics' by Rosemary James & Jack Wardlaw published. Can't remember anything else today.

Sep 16, 1967

Went out to dinner in the evening with Boxley and Turner, and we later met Garrison at the Boucherie, with Sciambra and girl friend. Garrison in genial mood, being recognized etc. Being introduced to girls and leaning forward embracing them in a friendly way. I mention the Phelan rumor (to the effect that there is going to be "a break in the case" later this year,) to Garrison, but he does not think the break is likely to be all that important and in this respect he is probably right.

Sep 18, 1967

The judge ruled against the motion to quash today. At lunch with Alcock, Lane, Turner and Boxley, Jim Alcock expressed some concern over the fact that the judge appeared to be rushing to trial, and in particular regarded it as his prerogative to set the trial date because we had filed a motion for speedy trial. In Alcock's view, both the prosecution and the defense would like to have the trial delayed. He is not looking forward to it at all. After the NBC attack on Garrison in June, Alcock expressed amazement at Garrison's behaviour: he now had very good grounds for requesting a continuance in the case, but what does he do? He files a motion for a speedy trial. Alcock shook his head in (slightly amused) disbelief. A. thinks the trial will either have to be late October or January, in view of the Xmas recess and the jury being locked up.

Chandler Brossard, a senior editor of Look magazine is in town. He is a slightly oddball character with unconventional views; apparently a great admirer of Garrison. He is doing a ‘visit piece' for Look. I went to dinner with him, Boxley, Turner, Mark & Anne-Lise Lane, at Antoine's. (The tab was $80.01, paid for by Boxley who was reimbursed by the DA's office.) There was something of an altercation between Brossard and Lane, which was still going on outside Antoine's door as we left. As I recall it, Brossard was saying what a lousy magazine ‘Playboy' is, and Lane, (who had reaped benefit from it in his ‘Playboy interview') disagreed. The argument escalated from then on but I didn't pay much attention.

Brossard said he thought there were only three good magazines in the country: Ramparts, The New York Review of Books, and The Realist: a very odd view for a senior editor of Look.

Today Matt Herron filed a report on his negative investigation in Dallas (last January) in an attempt to establish a phone call link between Ruby and Oswald.) This investigation was predicated on some information he received earlier from Penn Jones, and Herron then got a short assignment from Billings of Life to check it out. Nothing came of it, however.

I finally wrote up a memo on Jerry Hemming's visit. Hemming came to see us last July, and as I had nothing about it in my diary earlier, I will put something here. I quote from a letter I wrote to Edward Epstein, dated July 25, 1967:

"We were recently paid an unannounced visit by two Americans who were intimately connected with Cuban exile groups in the summer of 1963. One, Gerry Patrick Hemming, was even dressed in fatigues. The main purpose of their visit seemed to be to point an authoritative finger of suspicion at Hall, Howard and Seymour, (to an extent that we began to wonder if they knew that others were involved and were trying to protect them.) Gerry Patrick told me the following story which I thought might interest you.

"According to Gerry Patrick, (he usually drops the Hemming,) there were in 1963 numerous "teams" with paramilitary inclinations out to "get" Kennedy. Some of these teams had been approached by wealthy entrepreneurs of the H.L. Hunt type, (though not, I think, in fact H.L. Hunt) who were interested in seeing the job done and even provided financial assistance. Then, on November 22, 1963, Kennedy is shot down on the streets, ("Maybe Oswald got there ahead of them," Patrick commented,) and then for 2 years or so, there the story rests.

"However, since all the mounting controversy of the last 12 months, a startling new development has occurred, according to Patrick. Recently, members of the "teams" have been returning to their sponsors, taking credit for the assassination, and at the same time requesting large additional sums of money so that they won't be tempted to talk about it to anyone. In turn, the sponsors have apparently been hiring Mafia figures to rid themselves of these blackmailers.

"Gerry Patrick admitted that his own association with some of these extremist groups in 1963 has recently been causing him some concern. Incidentally, this may very well be the true story behind the Del Valle murder in Miami, reported this spring in the National Enquirer."

Tuesday Sep 19, 1967

Effect of the Life articles on organised crime, (Life: Sep 1 & Sep 8, 1967): Garrison has instituted a grand jury investigation of organised crime, and has offered to resign if any found. Kohn, he says, also should resign if none is found. On the filing front, a ‘Mob' file was instituted, casually, by Garrison. It contained a memo which G. had evidently just written.

Brossard expatiating in my office about America, which he refers to as "the jerk-off machine." He talks quite amusingly and much of what he says I agree with, eg. the deplorability of accepting the notion of education as a panacea. He says Americans "encapsulate experience" in such a way that the experience does not affect their lives in any way. He have this example: if a conspiracy of top level origin to assassinate JFK was unearthed, this information would be immediately "encapsulated" and no action would result. In a country like Spain, he says, there would be a revolution.

Brossard went out to dinner in the evening at Garrison's home. Boxley and Turner had dinner at the Lanes.

Sep 20, 1967

Turner left in the evening and Garrison left for New York. He has some TV appearances resultant from his Playboy interview.

Sep 22, 1967

I had lunch with Mark Lane alone and we discussed the case more frankly than before. He admitted the uselessness of propinquity as an incriminating factor -- something Garrison has been going on about and apparently sincerely believes in. Lane speculated as to the possible innocence of Clay Shaw: "Wouldn't it be something if he was innocent," or words to that effect. He gave me the impression that it was a thought which had never occurred to him before. I told him I thought Shaw would be acquitted on the evidence I have seen. Lane said he thought there would be a "public investigation" of the probe if Shaw were acquitted. I don't necessarily think so.

Lane is quietly going through the files, (Mancuso, Sheridan, Sandra Moffett, recently,) occasionally xeroxing material. Naturally, I am concerned by Lane's presence as he could be trying to usurp my position. His position is beginning to become clearer to me: he is basically out for himself and would like to see his position vis-a-vis the Warren Commission vindicated by Garrison. I got the feeling today for the first time that he may have realized he might not be backing the right horse. He is definitely a calculator, and I feel may be prepared to take a calculated risk on the outcome of the case. (If I were in his position -- best seller behind me -- I would be strongly tempted to get quickly into another field.) He is clearly in a quandary: an extremely ironical position in view of Shaw's guilt depending on Oswald's.

Wrote to Paul Hoch and Popkin. Reviewed the Nagell file and consider it a complete waste of Bill Martin's time and office money.

Sep 26, 1967

The defense filed a motion for a 6 month delay in the Shaw trial, or alternatively a change in venue. Alcock, Burnes, etc. are obviously pleased with this opportunity to establish a stronger case against Shaw in the interim. Alcock said that as an alternative to the judge actually ruling in their favor -- an unlikely contingency -- the state might file a reply which contained an exasperated preamble alluding to our desire for a speedy trial, and goes on to agree to the defense's request, for purported reason of possible reversal later on if denied. In this event, Alcock said, the judge would have to accede to the united front presented by both sets of lawyers.

Mark Lane on WVUE TV 11 o'clock news, and alleged that Life's organized crime series is in reality part of an "orchestrated attack" on Garrison, and said that they (Life) had photos, etc. which would destroy the Warren Report, but refused to publish them. (What nonsense this is. Presumably he is referring to the Zapruder film, which anyone can see in the National Archives, and segments of which have been published about three times in huge color spreads in the magazine -- most particularly in an article which called for a new investigation and brought Garrison into the fray!) Lane then made an made an indiscreet remark about Aaron Kohn's grand jury statement -- revealing that he knew what Kohn said before the grand jury, which he is not supposed to know -- and also mentioned Billings, Garrison and he having dinner together. I'm afraid Lane sees things purely in terms of public relations, TV appearances, etc.

Sep 27, 1967

Garrison returns with McKeithen from New York. Apparently they were shown additional data by Life, which prompted McKeithen to admit that there was organized crime in Louisiana. Everybody in the DA's office is terribly upset that McKeithen "blew his cool", as they put it. I saw Garrison in the office later on, and a few other people were there. He was really mad at McKeithen. He said, "He's got a wonderful face, he's got the face of a wagon train leader traversing the continent, but when he got back to New Orleans, this BLOB stepped off the plane." He then gave the speech he would have given if he had been Governor. I wish I had had a tape recorder because it was a tour de force. I don't remember how it went except that the first sentence went: "I don't have to APOLOGIZE for the STATE OF LOUISIANA . . . ." After that I was just hypnotized, like everyone else in the room. I remember thinking that he would only have to make a few speeches like that and he could get elected Governor wherever he likes. I never saw Huey Long, of course, but I imagine Garrison could have made him look like an amateur.
J. Edgar Hoover and Lyndon Johnson
Garrison with assistant DAs Andrew
Sciambra (middle) and James Alcock (right).

Monday Oct 2, 1967

In the morning my phone was put in and I arrived at work at noon. Garrison was there and he was in one of those moods when he wanted me in his office. He discussed various things. Penn Jones' new book had arrived and he was amused by the chapter headings: ‘Deaths,' ‘More Deaths,' ‘Still More Deaths.' He also went over my memo on Oswald in Mexico, (he has some theory that Oswald's brother went to Mexico.) He then complained that people call him all the time and he has to "absorb their energies," as he put it, and meanwhile gets nothing done. He also wanted me to call Jones Harris re "Helms", and John Hall (a lawyer) in Tulsa re Jim Hicks.

I spoke to Jim Alcock later in the day, and he started out be expressing pessimism about the case; he complained that no-one was working on the Shaw case and we were really going to have to get down to it. He said his reply to the defense motion was such that a compromise would be arrived at as to the trial date, and he implied it had already been arranged with the judge that the trial would be in January or thereabouts.

A lead which has developed is that Tommy Cox (listed in Shaw's address book) is supposed to have admitted something about Shaw's alleged involvement to a third party, and we are now trying to find Cox, so far without success. Alcock then discussed the case in general and said he was not at all looking forward to the trial. He said Shaw may in fact have used the name Bertrand, and Russo's meeting may have taken place, but he said that he doubted Shaw was really responsible for any overt act.

He repeated to me that Eugene Davis had admitted calling Dean Andrews at the Hotel Dieu, and he said he would like to question Davis further. (No development re ‘Clare Bertrand' at the hospital.)

Alcock discussed Ferrie and pointed out he saw no reason to believe Ferrie was involved. I asked him if we had any witnesses other than Jack Martin or David Lewis who linked Ferrie and Oswald. He said no, and then added that Lewis was "a liar", and that anyway Martin didn't ever claim seeing Oswald and Ferrie together. (Not so. At one point, Martin did make such a claim. He might have added that it was surely more than coincidence that Martin and Lewis both came into the DA's office with matching stories on the same day, Dec 14, 1966, incidentally the date in the guest book at the VIP Lounge. Also, later on Matin and Lewis were sharing an apartment together.)

Also, Alcock pointed out that right after Ferrie was released on Nov. 25, 1963, he went straight to Oswald's apartment on Magazine Street which was, as Alcock described it, "swarming with FBI, Secret Service, police, etc." trying to find out how anyone could think he was involved with Oswald. Later on he went all over the city discussing his case, trying to find the answer to the same question. As Alcock said, a guilty man would probably have quietly left town. Maybe he was, as Garrison would put it, "disassociating," (by this he means someone who is supposedly guilty deliberately acting in an innocent manner,) but it seems awfully unlikely. I agree with Alcock's position on all of these points.

Alcock said he did not believe the defense's request for a 6 month delay indicated that they knew, or thought, that Clay Shaw was guilty, but simply that they didn't want the hassle of the trial, with witnesses to be called, the expense involved, possible homosexual disclosures, and generally the length and exhausting nature of the proceedings. He said he wasn't looking forward to it either, mainly because we had such a slim case, and were going to be hard put to it to link Shaw to any of those supposedly involved -- according to Garrison's statements: Minutemen etc. Alcock said the Clinton angle "wasn't working out," and that he entirely disagreed with Garrison's interpretation of the Tankersley episode, (Holmes exhibit in 26 volumes, which suggests that Oswald may have had a friend in New Orleans who filled out a change of address form at the Post Office.)

Alcock repeated what Garrison had already said to Epstein and myself in June–that Shaw became the suspect because they were looking for Clay Bertrand and Clay Shaw had the same first name; also Clay Bertrand was presumed to be a homosexual. Thus Shaw came to light. Garrison had said earlier to Epstein and myself that Sciambra had "squeezed the quarter" looking for Clay Bertrand, but that he could not be found.

Alcock said that we should call Marina Oswald before the grand jury, and that it would look bad if we didn't. Even now it would look a bit remiss to call her at such a late date. Alcock said he thought a "buff" such as Garrison is would be only too pleased to have the opportunity to talk to the wife of the alleged assassin. Mainly, Alcock is interested in asking her if Oswald spent nights away from home.

Regarding the Thornley affidavit, prepared for Garrison at the urging of David Lifton, Alcock said he talked to John Rene Heindel the other day, and if he speaks Russian, Alcock said, "he fooled me."

Next: Part Three

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