Inside the Garrison JFK Assassination investigation.

Part 9 of 9

Saturday, March 16, 1968

Went in to office very briefly in the afternoon and saw Dick Burnes. I heard at that time that the DA's banquet that evening had been canceled by Garrison.

Monday, March 18, 1968

Dick Burnes left the office today, for position in a law firm in Alexandria or somewhere like that. As far as I know there was no undisclosed reason for his departure, although I noticed that relations between him and Garrison were never really cordial. This may just have been because Garrison knew he was leaving, however.

Andy Sciambra left for Washington to check on the VIP Room matter. He is going to interview three or four people there whose names appeared in the book. They nearly got me to do it when I was in Washington at Christmas, but I think they figured it was too likely I would come back with a "negative." Apparently Sciambra is the man they put on the job when there is any chance that a potential witness may be wavering.

Change of venue hearing proceeded. Garrison not in office.

Tuesday, March 19, 1968

On Monday the change of venue hearing was resumed, and 80 potential jurors have been called in the last two days. Dick Burnes has now left the office, and today his place in the court room was taken by Numa Bertel. Alcock had to prepare for tomorrow's Federal Court contempt proceedings against Garrison. Alcock says that Garrison is uninterested in the whole affair, but, as he said, unless he did something about preparing a defense, Garrison is liable to end up in jail. (Which is probably what Garrison half wants. He would then be a martyr.)

After the proceedings were over today, Bertel and Alcock and Ivon were talking about the potential jurors. Bertel made the point that you can tell in a minute what kind of a juror you have got, and what his attitude is likely to be in the case. This was my impression after a short visit to the courtroom this afternoon. Then Bertel made the remark: "Once you get into the upper economic and intellectual level, you know you've got problems." This had been my impression too, looking at it from the point of view of the prosecution.

It is a depressing reflection on the system of justice here that it is to the DA's advantage to get as stupid a jury as possible. Depressing, but no doubt true. The DA's office would be likely to adhere to this adage in all cases and (and I have no doubt this applies to all DA's offices) but it is particularly true in the Shaw case. As I came out of the court room today I reflected that the best hope for Shaw is for him to get a smart jury. But he probably won't, because not too many of the people on the jury panels seem to be bright, and the state will undoubtedly object when the bright ones come up.

The advantage ought to lie with the defense, because a man is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and thus the burden is on the state to prove its case. However, a dumb jury will tend not to notice when the state in fact has not proved its case, and therefore will be liable to find an innocent man guilty. Theoretically, the reverse problem ought also to crop up with a stupid jury -- that of failing to detect that a guilty man is in fact guilty. But this would seem to be a fairly unlikely occurrence because there really is such a tremendous presumption of guilt when a man is brought to trial. (As F. Lee Bailey pointed out on TV the other day. If a man is brought to trial, he said, possibly as much as 90% of the people thereby believe that he is guilty.)

In this case an unintelligent jury will be particularly to Shaw's disadvantage. The case is unusually complex, and if the all-important evidentiary issues are clouded by such emotional events as the showing of the Zapruder film, I would estimate that Shaw is indeed likely to be convicted. Also, the overall subject of the assassination, and in particular the fact that Oswald was shot before coming to trial, makes it more likely that Shaw will be convicted. Judging from the reaction to the books on the Warren Report, etc., the American public feels that it has been deprived of something in not having an Oswald trial, and there may be a desire to make up for this loss -- with a vengeance -- at the Shaw trial.

Some of the Warren Commission critics, and particularly Mark Lane, have from the start adopted the notion that the proper place to arrive at the truth about the assassination is in the court-room. Now that I am beginning to learn that the Warren Commission established far more of the truth than a court of law trying Oswald would have done, (that is assuming, of course, that Oswald's own testimony did not materially aid to what he had already told in the Dallas police station.) All you can get into the court-room is material relevant to the guilt or innocence of the accused -- Garrison certainly is not going to be able to use the court to air a whole body of information about the assassination that the Warren Commission did not utilize -- unless it is relevant to Shaw's guilt.

It is worth noting that all of Garrison's anti-Warren Commission ammunition is taken from the 26 volumes of the Warren Report. I cannot think of any witnesses he has dug up himself who know anything about the assassination.

There is something ironical about the Zapruder film, and the uses it may be and might have been put to. Apparently it will be used at the Shaw trial to prove that Shaw was guilty. It might also very well have been used at the Oswald trial to prove that Oswald was innocent -- and Oswald and Shaw are alleged to be co-conspirators. The Shaw trial: Zapruder film -- shots from the front, therefore conspiracy, therefore (!) Shaw part of it. Oswald trial: Zapruder film: shots from the front, Oswald not in front, therefore Oswald innocent. For Oswald to have been acquitted by this line of argument, however, one must presume that Oswald was not a part of a conspiracy. I don't know whether this would appeal to the Warren Commission critics or not. They all want a conspiracy, but they are uncertain -- or seem to be -- as to whether they want Oswald to be a part of it. In fact, surely this much is certain: if there was a conspiracy, Oswald was very much a part of it.

It occurred to me today, in the aftermath of the change of venue hearing and after reflecting on the dangers of the jury system, that in one way to publicity which Shaw's lawyers have complained about may be ultimately what will save him. The press will be there in force at the trial, and ready to yell "foul" at the first opportunity. (Except the Times Picayune, no doubt.) Their presence will thereby create a certain amount of pressure in the direction of justice. Judge, jury, and in fact everyone will tend to be on their best behavior. I think Haggerty will just about have to be more objective at the trial that he has been recently. If Shaw is unfairly convicted (ie., convicted) the he will no doubt be glad to have the press around at that point, because at that stage accurate reporting etc. would tend to protect his interests. The press have given Garrison a great deal of free publicity, but ultimately Shaw will be much better off with the press than without one at all. I'm sure that Garrison has already been considerably inhibited by the press–he realizes there is a limit to what he can get away with.

Wednesday, March 20, 1968

Not much. Went to try and get brake tag, but without success.

Thursday, March 21, 1968

Garrison in not very good mood apparently, although he was not in office. A note was delivered from Garrison to Jim Alcock requesting:
(a) Subpoena of Ruth Paine.

(b) that Bill Gurvich be charged with theft of $19 for taking some DA's files when he left the office last June.

(c) Subpoena of David Chandler to testify before the grand jury as to his knowledge of the assassination, (not organized crime.)

The report from Lynn Loisel was that Garrison was annoyed about the "communication problem" in the office, and was beginning to hope that he would be removed from office. By "communication problem" he means that he is encountering some difficulty in getting members of his staff to do exactly what he wants and to agree with what he says.

Nobody in the office seems to think that charging Gurvich with theft is a good idea, and that it will just come across publicly as a piece of vindictiveness. Alcock says he will not sign the charge sheet. He said not as much as he would have if Garrison had had his way. Ivon said that there was a regular distribution of office memos, and that Gurvich was on that distribution. Ivon was in charge of getting the xeroxing done and handing out the documents to the people concerned. However, he says, he soon realized that Gurvich probably wouldn't stay with the office for long -- apparently Gurvich used to openly voice doubts about the case in front of the staff -- and Ivon then decided to give Gurvich only relatively unimportant materials. Ivon also is not in favor of charging Gurvich, although he is more guarded about it than Alcock.

Friday, March 22, 1968

Alcock says Garrison has been dissuaded from the move to subpoena Chandler before the grand jury. We received a reply from Palmisano to our second letter to J. Edgar Hoover. The point of our letters was to find out if the FBI were aware of the Clinton situation. One of the people Sciambra has interviewed claims that he saw Oswald in the summer of 1963 there, and that he subsequently told the FBI about this. Understandably, the office is interested to know if this is true, and if so, whether the FBI wrote a report on the substance of what the witness said. If there is an FBI report on the subject, and it is not consistent with what the man has told us, and if the defense introduces this report into evidence at the trial, the credibility of the witness would be destroyed. On the other hand, if there is no FBI report, and further, the FBI deny that this man ever talked to them, his credibility is again undermined. Thus, not to alert the FBI -- and therefore possibly the defense -- to this weakness, the letter was worded in such a way as not to make it clear that this person was going to testify at the trial. In any event, Palmisano's reply was sufficiently guarded that is was impossible to determine whether or not Reeves Morgan -- the guy in Clinton -- had contacted the FBI. Neither did the letter indicate whether the FBI was aware of what was going on in Clinton.

Billings told me that the FBI was well aware of our interest in Clinton, and that when Sciambra went off on his trips there they were actually following him in a car. Billings seemed quite confident of this, but I'm not so sure I believe it. I remember Sciambra telling me that when he went to Clinton with Boxley, he became exhausted by Boxley constantly warning that any car that came near them was an FBI car, etc, and I suspect that Billings may have gotten his information from Boxley.

Of course, there is another reason why the office is interested to know what the FBI thinks of the Clinton episode: there is a very real (and well-grounded) suspicion that the car in Clinton, with occupants observing the voter registration line, was a Justice Department car. There is a possibility that the defense will be able to produce a cast iron rebuttal along these lines, and Alcock, Sciambra etc. are anxious to find out if this is likely to be the case.

At any rate, there was annoyance in the office that the FBI should play with its cards so close to its chest.

Jim Rose now in town, potentially being hired as an extra investigator. Work started on drawing up subpoena for Ruth Paine.

Saturday, March 23, 1968

Mark Lane back in town, having interviewed Rey Barry in Charlottesville. Barry is a reporter (or editor) for the student newspaper at the University of Virginia. Recently Ramsay Clark spoke there and in reply to a question, said that he might have to prosecute Garrison. Lane apparently thought it worth while to get this on film and tape, although it seems like a trivial point to me. (Might be worth while if he could get Ramsay Clark to repeat it in front of the camera.)

Gary Sanders is working on the Alexander Eames nonsense (Eames lived next door to Oswald on Magazine Street.) Sanders seems to be beginning to change, referring to Garrison today as "conspiracy minded," and saying that he disagrees with Garrison that Eames represents some kind of a "control figure" over Oswald. The whole "4900 Magazine" area which Garrison is so interested in seems to be a waste of time.

Monday, March 25, 1968

A Paris-based reporter, Jeffrey Paley, in the office today, trying to interview Garrison. He spent some time in my office reviewing a newspaper clipping file of the investigation. He works for some news service, though not one of the big ones, and his father is a big-wig in one of the TV networks -- CBS I think. Obviously he is not a chip off the old block. He believes that the course of the Vietnam war may be related to the Garrison investigation. (Not the other way about.) His rationale for this somewhat extreme position has a certain logic, however: As Paley said, "If what Garrison says is true, anything is possible." Thus he wants to know if Garrison's charges have any basis in fact. He has even written a couple of articles -- which appeared in paper in Pennsylvania or somewhere like that -- which correlate peace talk delays and Saigon maneuvering with postponements, etc. in the Clay Shaw trial. He showed them to me, and I reflected that Garrison would like them very much. They were forwarded to Garrison, and I believe Paley did subsequently have an interview with Garrison. However, I don't know what Garrison said, or whether he succeeded in convincing Paley. Maybe he did, because I heard later on from Jones Harris that we now had a possibly influential ally in Paley.

David Wise's article about the classified documents in the National Archives came out in the Saturday Evening Post today. Garrison studied it with unusual attention and came into my office with a copy of the magazine. He put it down on my desk -- he had underlined parts and written comments in the margin -- and said, "It represents a retreat to a fortified position." (Garrison constantly makes use of military metaphors -- often combined with humor.) He obviously is not entirely displeased with this article, which in some respects contradicts what he has said -- eg that LBJ signed an executive order which keeps the classified documents in the Archives under lock and key -- but in other respects corroborates what he has said -- that there are plenty of classified documents, some with interesting-sounding titles.

Tuesday, March 26, 1968

I was walking down Royal street this evening when a cab pulled up beside me and the driver yelled at me to get in. It was Perry Russo. I got in, and he gave me a lift to the news-stand. He told me he is driving a cab because he needs the money. I asked him if people recognize him, and he said some do but most don't. He then told me a story about a passenger who got in late one night and asked to be taken to 1317 Dauphine St -- next door to Clay Shaw's apartment. Russo immediately put on his dark glasses and checked the rear view mirror. He didn't know who his passenger was, and evidently he hadn't recognized Russo. Russo then asked him if he knew Clay Shaw. "Yes," the man replied. "He's been having some bad luck lately."

Zapruder film is to be forwarded to the office by Life. I am slightly surprised that they put up no legal fight at all -- just simply surrendered it. No doubt they will send us a copy.

Sciambra still in Washington checking on three or four potential witnesses to the VIP Room matter. Rose was hired as an investigator and is being sent to Florida to check out the Masferrer angle -- on information provided us by Lawrence Howard, as far as I can tell. (Garrison maybe feels obliged to have an investigator in Miami as he is employing funds provided by an "industrialist" in Miami. Garrison probably told the industrialist that there were plenty of leads that needed checking out in Miami, if only he had the money. Nevertheless, Masferrer seems like a waste of time.)

In reply to a question from the audience yesterday, in California, Bobby Kennedy made the remark that he had seen everything in the National Archives, and there was no indication of conspiracy. I called up AP office here to try to get exact wording. It is, after all, unlikely that Kennedy has put in the months necessary to see everything in the Archives. Still, he may be right about his conclusion.

Monday, April 1 - April 7

On Tuesday, Garrison left town -- went to California for what was described to me as "an indefinite period." During this week, Judge Haggerty arrived at the decision not to change the venue for the Shaw trial. It would be hard to imagine a more predictable decision. Appealed by the defense with writs to the state Supreme Court.

Kerry Thornley arrived for arraignment for his perjury charge. He pleaded not guilty. He had no lawyer, thus making nonsense of Garrison's claim that he is protected by the CIA, as Jim Alcock pointed out.

I spent some time working on Ruth Paine's testimony, in preparation for her grand jury testimony.

On Thursday, Martin Luther King was shot in Memphis. Bobby Kennedy was to have come here this week-end, but he canceled all his engagements. Garrison returned a day or so after King was shot, but did not come into the office, and surprised everyone by making no statements about the latest assassination. As far as I know, there has so far been no reaction from Garrison.


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