Concealing the Weakness of Key Testimony
Garrison Tampers With the Historical RecordBy Dave Reitzes
Two days later, after being questioned extensively about Garrison suspect Clay Shaw, and a mysterious white-haired gentleman named "Clay Bertrand," coroner Nicholas Chetta administered to Russo a dose of sodium Pentothal -- so-called "truth serum." When asked if he knew "Clay Bertrand," Russo now said that he knew a "Bertrand," a man he said he had met at Ferrie's apartment. He described "Bertrand" as a "queer," and "a tall man with white kinky hair, sort of slender." Sciambra asked him "if he could remember any of the details about Clay Bertrand being up in Ferrie's apartment," and Russo described being in Ferrie's apartment with "Bertrand" and "Leon Oswald." Ferrie had told him, he said, "We are going to kill John F. Kennedy" and "it won't be long."
The full text of Sciambra's memorandum of the February 27, 1967, session is available at:
A more detailed account of this episode is discussed at:
The following day, Russo was brought to Clay Shaw's house by a member of the DA's staff, as Russo wanted to see Shaw in person before identifying him as the "Bertrand" he claimed had been at Ferrie's apartment. He knocked on Shaw's door, posing as a door-to-door insurance salesman. After a brief exchange with Shaw, Russo took his leave, and informed the DA's office that Shaw indeed was "Bertrand."
The following day, Russo was interrogated under the influence of hypnosis by Dr. Esmond Fatter and Andrew Sciambra ("First Hypnotic Session, Exhibit F"). During this March 1 interview, under the influence of hypnosis, Russo now described -- for the first time -- a full-blown "assassination plot," involving Dave Ferrie, Ferrie's roommate "Leon," and the white-haired "Bertrand." Ferrie was still doing most of the talking, however.
Russo was interrogated again under the influence of hypnosis on March 12, 1967 ("2nd Hypnotic Session, Exhibit G"). This session was the first time Russo stated for the record that "Clem Bertrand" had been an active participant in the "assassination plot" he claimed to have overheard.
In 1977, Jim Garrison turned "a transcript of a statement Perry Russo made under hypnosis" to the House Select Committee, "with a notation. Explaining why the pages were numbered oddly (one to seventeen and one to thirteen), Garrison wrote that the session was in parts because Dr. Fatter had apparently 'interposed' a 'break' or 'rest period' for Russo's benefit." (see a picture of this portion of the document, below).
"He [Fatter] had done no such thing. Garrison's 'document' is actually two documents, the transcript of the first hypnosis session and another, which took place eleven days later. Garrison combined them, reversing their chronology, and labeled them 'A' and 'B'" (Patricia Lambert, False Witness, 254-5). The HSCA thus was led to believe that the March 12, 1967, session occurred before the March 1, 1967, session.
|Transcript of first hypnosis session, mislabelled by Garrison. (Highlighting added for emphasis.)|
Each of the two hypnosis transcripts in the National Archives is labeled with handwritten identifying notations: "3/1/67[,] Ex[hibit] F[,] 1st Hypnosis Session"; "Taken 3/12/67[,] 2nd Hypnotic Session[,] Exhibit G[,] Shaw." They are 13 and 17 pages long, respectively.
In the March 1, 1967, hypnosis session, Dr. Fatter provides an internal "calendar" of sorts. On page 9 of that 13-page transcript, Fatter tells Russo to visualize the face of the white-haired man. "You met him yesterday," Fatter says, "when you went to his apartment." Fatter is referring to the occasion when Russo knocked on Shaw's door, posing as an insurance salesman. That occurred on February 28, 1967, and Dr. Fatter spells that out: "This is yesterday," Fatter explains (referring to when Russo went to Shaw's house), "the last day of February." Since "yesterday" was "the last day of February," that means the hypnosis session underway at this moment is taking place on March 1st.
At Clay Shaw's preliminary hearing of March 14, 1967, Fatter gave testimony concerning the difference between the techniques he used in the two sessions. Alcock specifically asked Fatter if he used the same technique for "this second occasion," the March 12, 1967, session, that he had used "on the first occasion," March 1st. Fatter said, "No," and then he described the technique he used at the later session:
"I asked him to visualize and experience in his mind himself standing at the top of a stair case, looking down. And to indicate to me with his finger when he subjectively felt this experience. And, of course, his finger levitated in much this fashion that I am levitating now . . . I asked him to descend this stair case one at a time and as he went down step by step, he would go deeper and deeper and deeper into a trance state . . . At the bottom of the stair case, I asked him to go up the hall which is about fifty feet and he would see a door. And I asked him when he was in front of that door to indicate with the hand levitation, finger levitation. He so indicated. I asked him to open that door and go into a time tunnel and he would feel himself spinning and spinning and in this time tunnel he would be thrown out in September . . . " (Fatter, preliminary hearing transcript, 410).Here is how the actual 17-page hypnosis transcript labeled ("2nd Hypnotic Session Exhibit G Shaw") "Taken 3/12/67" opens: "As you go down each step of this staircase let yourself go down deeper and deeper and when you get to the bottom of that staircase lift up the index finger and go deeper and deeper as you go down each step slowly and when you hit the bottom landing you will be very deeply asleep . . . and about fifty feet up the hall I'd like for you to walk and in front of that door . . . lift up your index finger . . . this door is the entrance to a time tunnel . . . You are going into the time tunnel and you feel that spinning and you spin and spin and the time tunnel will throw you out in September 1, 1963 . . . " This is entirely consistent with Fatter's preliminary hearing description of the later hypnosis session. (This later "staircase"-technique transcript is the one Garrison labeled "A" and put on top of his combined and misnumbered hypnosis "document" that he gave to the HSCA.)
Remember, this is the March 12, 1967, session that Fatter is describing. Compare this to what Garrison marked as the first session:
...You are going into the time tunnel and you feel that spinning and you spin and spin and the time tunnel will throw you out September 1, 1963. September 1, 1963, it happens to be a Sunday and when the time tunnel throws you out Sunday, September 1, 1963, lift up the index finger of your right hand. Spinning and spinning and spinning, that's right now you are very comfortable in 1963.The "time tunnel" imagery is only used in this March 12 transcript; it is not used in the March 1 transcript.
|Transcript of second hypnosis session, also mislabelled by Garrison. (Highlighting added for emphasis.)|
By contrast, the March 1 hypnosis transcript opens with Fatter telling Russo to see a date on "the television screen." Fatter uses the device of the television screen throughout this session. Fatter never mentions a staircase. This is why Fatter testified at the preliminary hearing that he used a different technique later. That different technique was the staircase method described above.
This can be verified in Edward Jay Epstein's Counterplot. Page 210 of Epstein's The Assassination Chronicles briefly discusses Russo's hypnosis sessions. (Epstein is one day off on the date -- he places the interrogation on March 2, 1967, when it was actually March 1. This mistake may have originated in the DA's office, as Paris Flammonde also dates this session to March 2.)
Describing "Russo's first hypnosis session," Epstein writes:
Russo was hypnotized on March 2 [sic], the day after Clay Shaw was arrested [sic], by a Dr. Esmond Fatter, who told him to imagine a television screen in his mind. "You are in Ferrie's apartment," Dr. Fatter said. "Look at the picture and tell us the story that you see." Russo talked about some of Ferrie's friends but said nothing about an assassination plot or conspiratorial meeting. Dr. Fatter then probed deeper, saying, "Now, picture the screen again, Perry, and it is a picture of Ferrie's apartment, and there are several people in there and there is a white-haired man. Tell me about it." Russo described a party at Ferrie's apartment in which "everybody is drinking beer"; but again he did not mention anything about an assassination plot. Then Dr. Fatter instructed Russo to let his "mind go completely blank" and again "notice the picture on the television screen." Dr. Fatter suggested, "There will be Bertrand, Ferrie and Oswald and they are going to discuss a very important matter and there is another man and a girl there and they are talking about assassinating somebody. Look at it and describe it to me." The story that Russo then told is similar to the one he [would tell at the preliminary hearing] about overhearing an assassination plot.Here is a brief snippet:
Dr. F: Let you[r] mind go completely blank, Perry --- see that television screen again, it is very vivid -- no[w] notice the picture on the screen - there will be Bertrand, Ferrie and Oswald and they are going to discuss a very important matter and there is another man and girl there and they are talking about assassinating somebody. Look at it and describe it to me.Lisa Pease, Garrison defender, takes care to add this parenthetical comment to the transcript: "In the first session, Russo mentions Bertrand all by himself."
But Pease is wrong. This is the first session, and Russo did not say a word about an assassination plot, a conspiratorial meeting, Lee or "Leon" Oswald, Clay Shaw, or a white-haired man named "Bertrand" until Dr. Fatter described the entire scene -- including "Bertrand" -- first.
See how Garrison supporter Lisa Pease was taken in by Garrison's deception by visiting her Real History web site. On her page on Jim Garrison, she references "[t]ext culled from the transcript of Russo's initial hypnosis session." But this in fact is text from the second hypnosis session. Likewise, what Pease labels "Text from Perry Russo's 2nd Hypnosis Session" is in fact from the first.
Pease also takes James Phelan to task for "misrepresenting" this session as the first of the two. Phelan is right; Pease is wrong. Jim Garrison altered the documents in 1977 in an attempt to buttress his witness' credibility with the HSCA.
At the preliminary hearing, Fatter testified that he gave Russo a post-hypnotic suggestion on March 12, 1967 (p. 418); from his notes, Fatter then read into the record of the preliminary hearing the wording of that post-hypnotic suggestion (pp. 421-2). The March 12, 1967, 17-page hypnosis transcript ends with that post-hypnotic suggestion, exactly as Fatter testified, and the language in his testimony and in the hypnosis transcript is identical but for a few minor transcription variations.
This can be verified on page 94 of Paris Flammonde, The Kennedy Conspiracy. Flammonde writes that Dr. Fatter "told the court verbatim (he had the written text with him), the post-hypnotic suggestion he made to Russo during their final session on March 12, two days before the [preliminary] hearing."
Fatter's instructions, according to Flammonde, were: "That's right. Go deeper. Relax. Anytime you want to, you may permit yourself to be cool, calm and collected.
"This is a task you have voluntarily entered into. Let yourself do this task well. You'll be amazed how acute your mind will be in the next few weeks."
If the two transcripts were in the correct order, this would be at the very end of Garrison's 1977 "document." Instead, it's at the end of the first half.
To sum up:
Both hypnosis transcripts contain internal identifying markers.
The March 1, 1967 transcript contains an internal "calendar" that identifies the date it took place. And Fatter begins the session using the television screen technique, not the staircase.
The March 12, 1967, transcript contains two internal markers: one is the "staircase" technique that Fatter described in his preliminary hearing testimony and specifically stated that it was "different" from the technique used in the first session. The other is the post-hypnotic suggestion that appears at the end, which Fatter testified he gave at the last session on March 12th.
The evidence that Garrison created a fraudulent hypnosis "transcript" by combining the transcripts of two separate hypnosis sessions and reversing their chronological order is found in the basic source materials themselves, and that evidence is irrefutable.
I am indebted to author Patricia Lambert (False Witness) for clarifying the above information, which had been right under the research community's collective noses for two decades.