Inside the Garrison JFK Assassination investigation.

Part 6 of 9

Tuesday, Feb 13, 1968

Bill Turner came into the office, and an interesting conference was held in Garrison's office, attended by: Charles Ward, Jim Alcock, Dick Burnes, Moo Sciambra, Numa Bertel, Lynn Loisel, and myself. We were addressed by Bill Turner. Garrison was supposed to come, but called up 15 minutes beforehand to day he would not be there. Anyway, he wanted Turner to outline "CIA involvement" for us, having failed to make much impression on us with Salandria. However, once the meeting was started it was diverted from Garrison's intentions by Ward and Alcock to the much more interesting question of why Bradley was charged with conspiracy.

Since Bradley was charged no-one in the office has been able to get a very clear picture of what the evidence against Bradley is. The general feeling has been that it is very weak, but no one knows for sure. It would be impossible for Garrison to be anything but vague on the subject, and Turner, who principally worked on the case, had not been back to the office until today. Thus Charlie Ward and Jim Alcock were understandably interested in what Turner had to say, since they are in the position of having to assume a kind of legal responsibility for Garrison's actions.

Turner was obviously very much ill-at-ease at this sudden confrontation, and tried at the outset to revert to cozy speculation about the CIA. However Ward and Alcock were insistent. Basically the steps leading up to Bradley's being charged were:

1. Discovery of letter in our files by Bill Turner in September, 1967. This letter had been sent to Mike Karmazin on April 10, 1967, by Thomas L. Thornhill. "My information concerns a man named Edgar Eugene Bradley," Thornhill wrote. "One of my witnesses will testify to the fact that Mr Bradley tried to hire him to assassinate Mr Kennedy during his 1961 campaign in Calif."

2. On Dec 18, 1967, Turner and Bill Boxley went to 6543 Fulton Ave., Van Nuys, Calif. to interview Thornhill. They found a Mrs Carol Aydelotte living there. She lived there with her husband and Thornhill, and was familiar with Thornhill's allegations about Bradley. Bill Turner wrote in a memorandum addressed to Mr Garrison (dated Feb 16, 1968) that "her acquaintance with Bradley covered the span of the assassination; and that he was constantly harping on the fact that someone should kill Kennedy. She believes that as a result of her knowledge of these remarks, Bradley has launched a campaign of intimidation and harassment against her, and the matter is currently pending in a civil suit in the local courts."

3. Carol Aydelotte gave Turner and Boxley the names of two people who would corroborate her story against Bradley. They were Dennis Mower of Lancaster, Calif., and the Rev. Wesley Brice, Pastor of the Hollywood Bible Presbyterian Church in North Hollywood. Turner and Boxley then interviewed Mower in Lancaster on Dec 19th. According to a memo which Boxley addressed to Mr. Garrison on the subject, "Mower confirmed that Bradley had attempted to recruit him to assassinate President Kennedy and he stated that he had reported the attempt to FBI agents Holbrook and Quinn.

4. Boxley then interviewed Rev Brice on Dec 20th, but the results of this interview were not known to Turner at the time he addressed the members of the DA's office. On the results of this interview depended whether or not there was any New Orleans jurisdiction in the matter, Turner said. (When the results of the Brice interview became known, it turned out that Brice had said nothing about New Orleans in connection with Bradley.)

As Turner explained it to us, the allegations against Bradley are as follows:

1. He attempted to get Mower to shoot at Senator Kennedy, (as he then was,) from a storm drain system in Los Angeles. Aydelotte said that at this time Bradley had the blue prints of the storm drain system of the Sears Department Store Complex and Shopping Center on Laurel Canyon Road in Van Nuys. Bradley tried to induce Mower to hide in part of this system and take a shot at Kennedy as he came by.

2. Dennis Mower corroborates this.

3. Mrs Aydelotte further alleges that later, when JFK was President, Bradley rented a hotel room in L.A. on the occasion of JFK's visit, with a good sniper's vantage point. Turner reports that Mrs Aydelotte's mother can corroborate this in some way, but apparently her mother was not interviewed.

4. Mrs Aydelotte says that Bradley is a close friend of a man named Lorenzo Pascillo, who from pictures has been identified as Loran Hall -- at one time suspected of having visited Sylvia Odio with "Leon Oswald". Garrison is very interested in Hall, as is Dick Billings incidentally.

5. Aydelotte says that Bradley has sadistic tendencies. Turner noted that Bradley "beats his daughter, Jeanine Bradley, frequently and viciously."

6. A Fort Worth Star-Telegram photograph showing two men in front of the School Book Depository apparently under arrest following the assassination was shown to Mrs Aydelotte. According to Turner, "without hesitation, she pointed to the lead man and said: ‘That's Gene Bradley.'"

7. Some unspecified information from Rev. Brice. Mrs Aydelotte did not know of any connections Bradley may have had with New Orleans, but according to her, "Dr. Brice may be able to help on this score." (It later turned out that Bradley had told Brice before the assassination that he had to "take a swing through the South." Brice added that on the evening of the assassination he was at Mrs Bradley's home when Bradley called her, apparently from Dallas, but there does not seem to be any evidence for this either.

The office staff listening quietly through these explanations by Turner. When he had finished, Charlie Ward showed him the Dallas Morning News pictures of the same two tramps being led away. The facial angle is different, and the lead man obviously is not Bradley (though clearly the same man as in the other picture.) I don't think Turner had seen this picture before, and he was undoubtedly very embarrassed by it. He hummed and hawed, but wouldn't positively say that it wasn't Bradley.

Dick Burnes then immediately pointed out that even if we had jurisdiction over Bradley, which we appeared not to, he said, there is not even any allegation of conspiracy at all in the statements of any of the witnesses Turner had mentioned. There was in fact, Burnes said, only a solicitation which was rejected. (Bradley solicited Mower.) Turner was obviously slightly put out by these virtual attacks, which must have seemed very different to him from the genial company of Garrison. I'm not surprised that Garrison didn't show up for the meeting. He probably knew something like this would happen.

In any event, it appears that -- pending disclosures from Brice -- we have, on the evidence as a result of which Bradley was charged:

  1. No evidence that Bradley was in New Orleans.
  2. Therefore no jurisdiction.
  3. No evidence that Bradley was in Dallas, (disregarding photo.)
  4. No evidence that Bradley conspired (legally) to assassinate JFK.
  5. No evidence linking Bradley to the Dealey Plaza outcome.
Therefore there is not the slightest basis for Bradley having been charged. Everyone in the office was well aware of this after the meeting, and Bradley's arrest was universally regarded as a disaster for the office. Everything depends on Bradley not being extradited.

Since Bradley was charged I note that the following two statements have appeared in the Bradley file--which has now been re-located in Ivon's office, and is not easy to lay one's hands on:

1. A statement by Perry Russo(!), dated Dec 26, 1967, in which Russo states that he saw Bradley with David Ferrie sometime between March and October of 1963, in New Orleans.

2. A statement by Roger Craig, dated Dec 29, 1967, in which he says he either saw or apprehended Bradley in front of the Book Depository after the assassination. This information (from Craig) was included in the extradition papers re Bradley. (Note, later: Richard Sprague, one of Garrison's most ardent and uncritical admirers whose specialty has been collecting photographs of the assassination, later found a picture of Craig talking to a man in front of the TSBD who looked like Bradley, but definitely was not him, according to Sprague. Sprague, who believes that the tramp picture depicts Bradley, no doubt appreciates that Bradley cannot both be the tramp being led away, and the non-tramp conversing with Craig.)

Alcock pointed out that charging Bradley with the same crime as Shaw, and at the same time not being able to demonstrate any connection between the two conspiracies, looked really bad even if it was legally a possibility. He said he thought it would form the basis for some justifiable motions by the defense (Shaw's defense), demanding to know more details of the Bradley "conspiracy." No doubt he would be able to skirt around any such demands. What does worry him, however, is the thought that Bradley might be extradited. "Let's keep our fingers crossed," he said.

Then there is the confusion about Leslie Bradley. It turns out that there is also a Leslie Bradley, who was a pilot, and who is believed to have been in New Orleans on the day of the assassination. Also something about him having known Ferrie. But at least this is not a case of mistaken identity, as some journalists seem to think. We knew nothing of Leslie Bradley until E.E. Bradley had been charged. All the Leslie Bradley material was dug up by journalists, and it is their hypothesis that this is a case of mistaken identity.

Wednesday, Feb 14, 1968

I asked Bill Turner when he came in if he had spoken to Garrison last night about what Rev. Brice reputedly said to Boxley on the subject of placing Bradley in New Orleans jurisdiction. Turner said he had not, and then made the following admission: that Garrison had told him the reason he was charging Bradley was a gambit in the publicity struggle than anything else. Apparently, according to Turner, Garrison does not really believe that Bradley is guilty. Alcock unfortunately removed from the Bradley file the yellow legal sheet with Garrison's handwritten instructions re. Bradley charge, (sent by Garrison via the mails to Alcock, from L.A.) I saw it once. It began: "We've closed the circle on Bradley. He's involved, all the way... We have witnesses who place him in New Orleans too, so don't worry about jurisdiction..." (Unfortunately I did not get a copy of this.

There is now considerable consternation in the office about Bradley, and fear lest Reagan extradite him.

Garrison not in the office today.

Jody Duek in again, trying to get the Shaw file from me. She sure has got nerve, I'll say that for her. I'm not about to give her the Shaw file, however. (Not that it's kept in my office now. It's kept in a special filing cabinet (lockable) in Louis Ivon's office. I can see it whenever I want to though.

Martin McAuliffe came in and told us how he met Thornley at the Bourbon House -- innocently, it was obvious. McAuliffe had helped found Friends of Democratic Cuba. Loisel and I interviewed him. Obviously quite an intelligent man, now teaching English I believe, or maybe was at the time he met Thornley. He described how Thurnley told him he had literary ambitions, and so McAuliffe asked him to show him something. Thornley showed him his "novel" - in fact it was not quite a novel, I think - and McAuliffe said it was pretty bad. Not much other contact with Thornley, nor did McAuliffe see Oswald in the Bourbon House or anywhere else. McAuliffe clearly worried that if says the wrong thing, he's liable to get charged himself!

Thursday, Feb 15, 1968

Thomas Edward Beckham before the grand jury today, all day. Garrison is full of high hopes, talking about "a break in the case," etc., and hopefully points to a blurry picture in front of the TSBD.

David Lewis came in and gave us some further information regarding the United Cuban Missionary Force Beckham attempted to found, and Beckham's self-styled (to Lewis) membership in the CIA. I wrote up memo on Lewis' remarks. After Beckham emerged from the grand jury, Alcock was mocking the idea that anyone could believe (as Garrison does) that "a bum like that" would be working for the CIA.

Turner related that Garrison intends to delay the Dulles subpoena until the Thornley perjury charge is issued. Turner apparently pointed out to Garrison that there was little basis for such a charge.

We discussed the leak of Garrison's medical records, the Bolden case, and the anonymous letter from the Los Angeles FBI office to Ramsey Clark, (the latter was subsequently printing in the LA Free Press.) I told Turner that Bud Fensterwald had told me in Washington over Xmas that the medical records affair was an FBI leak. Turner was interested and said he would like to "pin it down real tight" and do a story on it. The leak came out in the Chicago Tribute 3 days after the Turner-Garrison press conference in which Garrison mentioned the William Walter story. (To the effect that a telegram was sent to the FBI a few days before the assassination, or an inter-office TWX, containing a warning about the assassination. This story about William Walter originated from a guy who came up to Mark Lane either before or after his talk at the Tulane campus. Lane got the guy's name -- Walter -- and his story, that he had been working as a clerk in the local FBI bureau when this TWX came through, but that is all. In other words, no one ever saw a copy of the TWX. In any event, Garrison used it as an opportunity to attack the FBI–one of the rare occasions when he has attacked them, incidentally. If Fensterwald is right, the FBI immediately retaliated with the medical records. Seems plausible. Turner, who worked for the FBI, says the Chicago Tribune is frequently used by the Bureau as a "leak" organ.

Turner mentioned what is in some ways Garrison's least explicable fault: his refusal to accept help when it is offered. In some instances these offers come from a direction which Garrison has specifically indicated interest in, and therefore ought to be interested in getting help from that quarter. Turner gave the example of Robert De Pugh, the Minuteman leader. De Pugh has indicated to Turner in an interview that he accepts Garrison's thesis that renegade Minutemen are "involved" in the assassination. He would like to see Garrison, and even has names to give him. Garrison is well aware of this offer of help, but, to date at least, refuses to see De Pugh.

I told Turner of another obvious example -- that of George DeMohrenschildt. Although he was Oswald's closest and virtually only friend in Dallas, and from his background might quite reasonably be suspected of having been a CIA agent, and has written to Garrison expressing a desire to talk to him, Garrison (till now) won't even answer his letter.

Another person Garrison could probably have gotten help from, if he had approached the matter tactfully, was Henry Wade, the Dallas D.A. (who, like Garrison, is a former FBI agent.) However, instead, Garrison took the first opportunity to attack Wade, and the Dallas police Dept.

A consistent pattern in this investigation has been the failure to talk to people thought to be involved before issuing a warrant for them. This is true of Shaw (only briefly interviewed by Sciambra on Dec 23, 1966) Gordon Novel, Edgar Eugene Bradley, Sergio Arcacha, Loran Hall and Lawrence Howard, (the latter two were subpoenaed as material witnesses. My interview with Jack Lawrence was one of the few instances where we knew what the person under suspicion had to say about what he was doing, etc. Garrison fears, of course, that if you talk to these people you alert them and they somehow vanish off the map, destroy the evidence etc. I think Garrison also believes that it is a waste of time to talk to suspects, because if they are involved, they obviously aren't going to admit it, which is still not a very good argument for not talking to them.

Friday, February 16, 1968

Bill Boxley arrived back, apparently now convinced of the involvement of Jack Lawrence. Why? Because of Boxley's conversations recently with two Downtown-Lincoln Mercury ex-employees named Rozelle and Falzone. Rozelle points out that Lawrence was hired by one Lorenz, a German (CIA etc., according to Boxley,) who is also "involved". I pointed out to Boxley that the only way we can get anything solid on Lawrence is to find the actual person who retrieved the car in Dealey plaza. Boxley thinks it was Lorenz.

Alcock still appears outraged by the Bradley business and said he would refuse to try to case if Bradley is extradited. I get the feeling that Alcock will be leaving the office fairly soon. Dulles and Novel were subpoenaed today, and story in papers. Dulled reportedly laughed when told on phone by a reporter that Garrison had subpoenaed him.

The FBI replied to Sciambra's letter of Jan 22 regarding Reeves Morgan and the Clinton episode. Sciambra was trying to get confirmation from the FBI that Reeves Morgan had contacted the FBI in ‘63. The FBI reply was guarded, and gave no indication whether or not they had prior warning of the Clinton episode.

Saturday, February 17, 1968

Briefly went into office in afternoon and talked to Ivon, who has been away all week. Garrison just leaving when I arrived, with Sciambra, Mark Lane, and Gary Sanders. No developments.

Monday, February 19, 1968

Garrison in the office bright and early today. Jim Alcock says he has papers drawn up for a perjury charge against Thornley.

I detected a distinctly cool wind today from Ivon and Steve Bordelon. What's up? Very odd reaction from Garrison regarding the statement Sanders got from Augustinovich. He is some guy Sanders has dug up from the Miami area and he apparently is prepared to testify that Oswald's somehow connected with the CIA. When Sanders' memo to Garrison on this was returned by Garrison, it had "irrelevant area" written across the front page in Garrison's hand. Although I am not exactly Sanders' best friend, I sympathize with his chagrin at this strange response. Here he is, the poor guy, doing his best to please the boss, comes up with something one would surely have predicted would have pleased Garrison, and he gets slapped down for it. My feeling is -- and Alcock shares it -- that even if this is unreliable information (and I have not had a chance to talk to Augustinovich) at least it is an attempt to link Oswald with the CIA, which is more than we've had before. Now that there is some evidence for Garrison's pronunciamentos, he promptly rejects it. I can't figure it out, except that I sense something strange: Garrison doesn't like Sanders, for some reason. I'm not sure, but I sense that Sanders comes on too strong for Garrison. Sanders turns him off in some way, and it doesn't matter what Sanders comes up with -- a picture of the assassin behind the picket fence -- I'm not sure G. wouldn't disregard it just to snub him.

Another oddity: Alcock is very nonchalant about the Thornley charge, whereas before he was threatening to resign if Thornley should be charged. Seems like, for some reason, he's decided to reconcile himself to it.

Barbara Reid in the office today, and Boxley spent most of the day in Garrison's office with her. Louis Ivon told Sanders to tell Jody Duek not to come in any more. Garrison came into my office in the afternoon, and politely asked if I would mind leaving for a short while, while he talked to Willard Robertson alone there. Trying to squeeze more money out of him, apparently.

Boxley being put onto the 544 Camp St -- Information Council of the Americas (INCA) angle. Not a bad idea, but I doubt if we'll see much action.

Tuesday, Feb 20, 1968

Another quiet day. Worked on correspondence. Reflected that the mail is the most interesting thing coming into the office these days. I imagine it would fascinate a social scientist, and a detailed analysis of it would be book length.

Papers being drawn up on Kerry Thornley, which both Alcock and Burnes refuse to sign. There is no doubt in my mind that Thornley is completely innocent of perjury and everything else.

Ivon and Bordelon working on material for Gordon Novel suit, and I transcribed Novel's original ‘Mr. Weiss' note. Not much today.

Boxley id being put on regular assistant D.A. payroll, which will therefore allow "special investigation funds" to run further. I.e., plan is to get Boxley's salary paid by City funds. I'm paid, as usual, out of the Fines and Fees fund. (As I have been all along, with the exception of a couple of pay checks when I was in Washington, which were drawn on the J.G. Safi account -- Truth or Consequences. I also got one pay check apparently drawn on Garrison's personal checking account.) Garrison says he's going to have Boxley working here from now on. "I'm not going to do Henry Wade's work for him any more," Garrison said.

Going through Oswald's note book, Garrison said: "You see, he had Chandler's name in there, but he spelled it Crawford." This sounds like a typical piece of Garrison wishful thinking, but in this instance it might be true. Chandler admits that he did meet Oswald in N.O. when he was working for the States-Item, and Oswald very likely would have written down his name in his book, and was quite capable of writing David Crawford instead of David Chandler.

Wednesday, February 21, 1968

Thornley charged with perjury today. Garrison issued a footnoted press release, with addendum, like a miniature term paper or something. He showed it to me with evident pride.

The basis for the perjury charge is straightforward. Barbara Reid says that she saw Thornley with Oswald in the Bourbon House in the summer of 1963. Thornley says he was not with Oswald at that time, and did not see him in the Bourbon House. I gather that Garrison has one other witness -- Pete Diagno (sp?) but I have not seen a copy of his statement. However I note that Diagno is a friend of Moo Sciambra. I used to hang out quite often in the Bourbon House myself in the summer of 1963. I was there for parts of June, July, August and September. I recall that I used to see Diagno in there almost every day, and Barbara Reid would be there quite often too, generally with a camera slung around her neck. Sciambra would often be there as well, generally hanging around with the Diagno crowd -- a rather unattractive bunch whose main topic of conversation seemed to be "broads" and betting. I would go there quite often with my English friend Warwick Reynolds. Warwick knew Thornley quite well, although I did not know that at the time, and I never saw Thornley until he was in the office the other day, as far as I can recollect. I certainly cannot recall seeing Oswald there. The Bourbon House clientele was large and varied -- most of the people who actually lived in the French Quarter within a several block radius would go there at one time or another. Part of its charm was that, although it was in the center of the tourist section, tourists would almost never go in. They would poke their heads round the door, take one look and leave. I would say that if one had never known Oswald before, it would be impossible to remember him going there unless he went there regularly. And regulars would remember him. As it is, my feeling is that Oswald probably never went there, and there are scarcely any other reports that he was ever in the French Quarter, which did not seem to attract him particularly.

Actually, it is inconceivable that Thornley saw Oswald at the Bourbon House, unless you are prepared to believe that he saw him, spoke to him, and did not recognize him. Because if he had seen him and recognized him, he would undoubtedly have recounted the episode before the Warren Commission, and put it in his book about Oswald. As Epstein points out, Thornley wrote a book about Oswald, which as it was, was extremely short of material about the alleged assassin.

I note that Lifton has been doing quite a bit of research on the Thornley matter.

Next: Part Seven

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