Testimony Of Bernard Weissman
The testimony of Bernard Weissman was taken at 10:30 a.m., on June 9, 1964, at the U.S. District Courthouse, Foley Square, New York, N.Y., by Mr. Melvin Aron Eisenberg, assistant counsel of the President's Commission.
Bernard Weissman, called as a witness, having first been duly sworn by the notary public, testified as follows:
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Weissman, could you state your full name?
Mr. WEISSMAN. Bernard Weissman.
Mr. EISENBERG. And your address?
Mr. WEISSMAN. 439 South Columbus Avenue, Mount Vernon, N.Y.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Weissman, did you receive a copy of the rules governing this deposition?
Mr. WEISSMAN. I did.
Mr. EISENBERG. Have you had an opportunity to study them?
Mr. WEISSMAN. I have had an opportunity to study them.
Mr. EISENBERG. What is your occupation, Mr. Weissman?
Mr. WEISSMAN. Salesman.
Mr. EISENBERG. How long have you lived at your present address?
Mr. WEISSMAN. Presently or totally?
Mr. EISENBERG. Presently.
Mr. WEISSMAN. About 1 year.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Weissman, I now hand you an advertisement beginning "Welcome, Mr. Kennedy," from the Dallas Morning News, Friday, November 22, 1963, which I will mark Weissman Exhibit No. 1.
(Excerpt from Dallas Morning News, Friday, November 22, 1963, marked Weissman Exhibit No. 1.)
Mr. WEISSMAN. Might I interject at this point that since I don't have the advice of counsel, that I reserve the right to refuse to answer any question that I feel may not be in my best interests at the moment?
Mr. EISENBERG. Certainly. Now, under the rules, of course, you are entitled to counsel, and if you wish we can adjourn this deposition so that you can get counsel.
Mr. WEISSMAN. Well, I have tried to get counsel, and I frankly can't afford it, and the counsel I could afford wouldn't take the case.
Mr. EISENBERG. I see. Well, would you wish us to try to make arrangements for a court-appointed counsel?
Mr. WEISSMAN. This would be entirely up to you. I should think possibly that if I can see my way clear to answer your more pertinent questions--in other words, to your satisfaction--it might not be necessary. Otherwise, we can do this some other time.
Mr. EISENBERG. Well, it is entirely up to you. Now, we can adjourn if you want or we can continue and see whether the questions are pertinent in your mind or not.
Mr. WEISSMAN. I would rather continue and to avoid repeating this again, taking time out.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Weissman, I hand you this advertisement which I have labeled Weissman Exhibit No. 1, and ask you whether you are familiar with this advertisement?
Mr. WEISSMAN. Yes; I am.
Mr. EISENBERG. Are you the Bernard Weissman whose name appears at the bottom of this advertisement, as chairman?
Mr. WEISSMAN. Yes.
Mr. EISENBERG. Mr. Weissman, could you tell us how this advertisement came to be composed?
Mr. WEISSMAN. It is rather simple. A group of individuals in Dallas, friends of mine, got together and decided to express our feeling about the domestic and foreign policy of the Kennedy administration, and we felt that picketing, anything of the nature of picketing, and so forth, wouldn't go, since the Stevenson incident. We decided that the best way to get our point across would be to run an ad.
Mr. EISENBERG. When was this decision made?
Mr. WEISSMAN. The decision was made approximately a week or so before Kennedy's arrival in Dallas.
Mr. EISENBERG. That would be approximately November 15, 1963?
Mr. WEISSMAN. Approximately; a few days more, a few days less, in there.
Mr. EISENBERG. Who were the individuals who participated in this decision?
Mr. WEISSMAN. Larry Schmidt, Bit Barley, myself, and one or two other individuals who I would rather not mention.
Mr. EISENBERG. Can you state the reasons why you don't want to mention these individuals, Mr. Weissman?
Mr. WEISSMAN. Yes. As a matter of fact, it is not that I doubt your sincerity, personally, it is just that I doubt that--or it is my feeling that there are several members of the Commission that might use, if I implicate any individuals or organizations other than the ones I have mentioned, that this may be used as a political weapon later this year and the coming years, and I feel that what with very comprehensive FBI reports and the report I have given to the FBI myself, and the Secret Service, that any loose parts that are left out right now can be pieced together if you desire to do it, from their reports, very simply and very easily.
The reason I don't have the confidence I should have, not in the Commission itself, but in some of the counsel to the Commission, for example, Norman Redlich, if even 5 percent of what-I hear about the individual is true, I don't want to have this man in a position to hurt anybody who has been or is an associate of mine.
Mr. EISENBERG. Well, Mr. Weissman, the subject of this deposition, of course, is the advertisement, and it is crucial to that question who composed the ad and who was instrumental in its placement in the newspaper. Now, you are not represented by counsel, and I don't want to press you to answer a question in the absence of representation by counsel. However, since this is the very subject with which the deposition is concerned, I think that if you don't want to answer that question we should stand adjourned until you can obtain counsel, and I will attempt to get a court-appointed counsel for you, if you can't get counsel yourself. If you wish, and we can hold a recess while you think it over.
Mr. WEISSMAN. Call a recess for a few minutes.
Mr. WEISSMAN. What is your opinion here now? Let me put it to you that way.
Mr. EISENBERG. I think that if there is any question in your mind at all as to what questions you should answer, that you should get a lawyer.
Mr. WEISSMAN. This is what I am going to do. I am going to read you, it looks like about three or four pages, typewritten pages, I will read it into the record.
It will tell the story why I came to Dallas, exactly what I and several of my associates wished to accomplish.
I will name them where necessary and when I am finished I will let this stand as my complete testimony, period, finis, and if at any other time the Commission wants to talk with me, they will have to subpena me and at that time. I want to get it over once and for all.
I am going to tell my story now as to why I did things I have done, how it came about, how the ad happened to fit into this pattern, and it will be all very simple and logical.
Mr. EISENBERG. Go ahead. You understand that when I say to go ahead I don't mean that we will not be asking further questions, but you are certainly welcome to put this in.
Mr. WEISSMAN. I understand. Our preparation to come to Dallas was made approximately
Mr. EISENBERG. Excuse me I second, Mr. Weissman. I want you to be very sure that before you enter this statement in the record you shouldn't consult an attorney?
Mr. EISENBERG. You are gesturing "no"?
Mr. WEISSMAN. I am gesturing "No"; that is right. About 3 years ago in Munich, Germany, while I was in the service, I and several friends joined or formed a conservative political organization, dedicated to a conservative philosophy, and I am going to read what you might call the constitution or the aims of that organization.
This was originally written by Larry Schmidt, who originally rounded the organization, which is known as CUSA, or Conservatism, U.S.A., and this particular copy was prepared for the recruitment of new members and what was expected of them.
It also applies to the members of what we call ourselves, the council. The council originally consisted of myself, of Larry Schmidt, of Bill Burley, of a Larry Jones, who is no longer associated in any way with us, of Norman Baker, who is no longer associated in any way with us, James Mosley, who is no longer associated in any way with us.
How was CUSA organized? CUSA, with its headquarters in Dallas, No. 5417 Louis Street, is broken down into two branches. The stateside branch, which was headed by Larry Schmidt, and the overseas branch, which was headed by myself.
Although both presently function separately from each other, 'they both have the same organization, etc.
On August 1, 1963, the overseas branch will discontinue being a separate branch and will become completely subsidiary to the main stateside branch.
CUSA is set up similar to the Ford Motor Co. and its dependent, the Ford Foundation.
Ford Motor Co. of CUSA is American Businesses, Inc. or AMBUS. AMBUS will be a private profitmaking corporation which finances its own Ford Foundation, which is Conservatism, USA, a nonprofit, nonpartisan conservative political foundation with the goals outlined above.
The owners of AMBUS are the same as the five partners who are the board chairmen of CUSA, the partners I mentioned before. All positions in AMBUS and CUSA are appointed by the ETC or the executive in the council, which again are the five members of that which has been mentioned.
Every member of CUSA and AMBUS who works for either or both of AMBUS and CUSA full time shall be paid at a salary at least equivalent to that paid a man in a similar position in industry or politics.
In most cases AMBUS and CUSA will pay its people higher salaries.
CUSA is broken down into three divisions: the political analysis division, the recruitment and fund solicitation division, and the foreign affairs divsion.
AMBUS is divided into two divisions: the business management division and the public relations division.
AMBUS' two divisions fully support the activities of CUSA. Each division has its own organizational setup and subsidiary sections and officers to carry out its functions.
For a copy of this, ask the chief of your particular branch--that is pertaining to a new member. He will be happy to show it to you. For detailed information on the operations of any particular division, ask the chief of the division in question.
Geographically CUSA is broken down into six regions. These are the eastern, northern, southern, southwestern, midwestern, and western regions.
Each region has several States under its jurisdiction.
The headquarters of each region are as follows: eastern, New York City; northern, Chicago; southern, Atlanta; southwestern, Dallas; midwestern, Wichita; western, Los Angeles.
These regional headquarters come directly under CUSA's Dallas home headquarters. Each State within the region also has its CUSA headquarters. In each case the headquarters is located in the capital of each State.
The State headquarters come directly under the regional headquarters in which they are located. Each State in turn is broken down into districts with several counties comprising a district.
Most States are broken down into four or five districts. These district headquarters come directly under the State headquarters and the breakdowns go along as I have mentioned, and it gets smaller and smaller as the areas get smaller.
Both AMBUS and CUSA will have staffs in each of the regional State district and city headquarters. These will be full-time salaried employees.
How does CUSA expect to gain its goals? CUSA is convinced it can induce all other conservative organizations to join it, especially if CUSA has induced a large number, that more and more will want to jump on its bandwagon.
For those organizations that refuse to join, CUSA will bring pressures to bear to end their resistance.
CUSA will also work closely with conservatives in the Republican and Democratic parties.
Among CUSA's members are some of the finest salesmen around, men who know how to convince, how to sell, how to persuade: CUSA intends to work toward monopolization of the money available for rightwing organizations, thus forcing any organizations to come into the CUSA fold.
CUSA will use any method, so long as it is legal and honorable, to attain its goal. A timetable has been set up to guide CUSA's actions, when each project has to be completed, and places these projects in proper timetable sequence.
What will happen to CUSA after it reaches its goals? CUSA shall continue to aid the conservative cause and keen our Government conservative. So long as there is a U.S.A. there shall be a CUSA.
Can I make a career of CUSA? Most definitely. CUSA and AMBUS are big business. Think of CUSA as being the same as a political party like the Democratic or Republican. Even if it isn't actually a third party, it shall function as one. However, if you desire and have the necessary qualifications, CUSA will even run an individual for a political office if it feels you can win.
AMBUS needs good business minds and CUSA needs aggressive political minds.
Above all, CUSA-AMBUS needs salesmen, public speakers, writers, debaters, analysts. Men who think like men of action and act like men of thought.
But CUSA also needs background men, men willing to stay out of the public eye and work quietly to do the planning, thinking, creating, formalizing, and other things in a great cause.
CUSA-AMBUS has established regular wage scales along the line of the civil service, GS-4 to GS-18.
Just what is a conservative, anyway? A conservative is a person who looks at a man or a woman as an individual and respects him or her as a unique human being rather than just a face in the crowd; a member of the mass who believes in individual initiative above collective charity, yet accepts charity where the individual cannot provide for himself; who believes the Government should be supported by the people, not the people supported by the Government; who believes Government should be restricted to those areas of concern outlined in the Constitution of the United States of America, leaving the citizen free to pursue life, liberty and happiness without the overburdens of excessive taxation that restrict such pursuits; who believes that every effort should be made by individuals to provide for themselves first and when that can't be done, help by local, State, or private charitable organizations rather than by Federal Government aid comprised of general taxation; who believes that the Federal Government should not compete with private enterprise or interfere with the rights of the States as outlined in the Constitution; who believes that the best Government is the Government which governs least; who believes that the best interests of the American poodle should be served by its Government first before the peoples of other countries, yet believes we Americans must help the needy peoples of other countries; who believes the best interests of the U.S.A. should first be served by our Federal Government before the needs of other nations are looked into, yet that we should aid needy nations where aid is justified and deserved, and in the best interests of our country; who believes that the American form of republican government, a government of the people, for the people, by the people, with rule by law and constitution, is the only way of government and way of life for Americans; who believes that although a government and system of law and rule and economics isn't perfect, it is the best one ever attempted by mankind in its long history; who believes that private enterprise and capitalism is the whole basis of our way of life and the reason of our way of life and the reason our way of life is so richly endowed; who believes that communism is the greatest threat to the existence and freedom of America and must be completely defeated; who believes there can be-no peace without victory over communism; who believes that the true revolutionary political system and the true revolution of mankind is the American democracy and democratic and political system; that the enslavement of man embodied in communism is as old as mankind itself, and therefore there is nothing revolutionary about it, even though it has a modern name and foundation and is certainly no good, indeed fatal, to mankind.
Is CUSA identified with any other organization or society? CUSA is associated with no organization or group, be it political, economic, social, fraternal, or religious. CUSA is committed to none, either.
I can interject a footnote of my own at this point At council sessions we decided to use whatever vehicles were necessary in the way of other organizations to get CUSA off the ground and at the same time keep the name CUSA secret among ourselves, as it was our organization, you might say; no one of the other organizations that we became involved with knew anything about the existence of CUSA or what we had planned to do with it. They did not know, the individuals that we were concerned with did not know, that in many cases, as a matter of fact, we were using them merely as a vehicle to further the interest of CUSA.
Just who does CUSA hope to elect President?
I want to reiterate that this was prepared in late 1961 or very early 1962.
CUSA considers Senator Barry Goldwater (Republican, Arizona) as Mr. Conservative, U.S.A., and wholeheartedly endorses him for the Presidency, although CUSA is not committed to Mr. Goldwater in any way. However, it is felt that he is by far the most outstanding conservative politician and spokesman in the country.
How does CUSA feel about the so-called radical rightwing? CUSA has proof that many so-called radical organizations are not really radical or at least as radical as the enemies or opposition of these organizations would have the public believe.
CUSA loathes extremism of the right, typified by the American Nazi Party, as much as it does the extremism of the left, exemplified by the Communist Party in the U.S.A.
CUSA does not believe, however, that an American can be too radical or extreme in his love or patriotism for his country.
CUSA endorses Americanism, love of country, and patriotism, even if it does not always agree with what some citizens believe is wrong with our country, who is to blame for our faults and our solution to our problems.
CUSA has faith in and believes in many rightwing organizations and their endeavors, although it does not always agree with everything they say or do, the words or actions of their leaders.
On the other hand, CUSA does not condemn a patriot who, in the heat of anger or frustration, says things which are irresponsible and not honestly meant. On the other hand, CUSA cannot subscribe to continued irresponsibility on the part of organizations, its leaders or membership.
This is one reason, for example, recently in Dallas, we decided not to become, at least as far as we knew, to become involved with anybody associated or doing business with General Walker, as an example. We made it a point to try to stay clear of that.
How does CUSA feel about communism? CUSA intends to do everything it can to destroy communism. CUSA is against any philosophy, any organization, any group, any individual which threatens the freedom, way of life, or congressional government of the United States.
CUSA is against any tyranny, whatever its skin or title; against anything indecent, unlawful, or harmful to man.
Can anyone join CUSA? Any citizen of the United States who believes in what CUSA is trying to do and who is not a demagog or dishonest, may join CUSA regardless of race, religion, creed, or ethnic origin. CUSA does not believe that patriotism is contingent upon skin, color, or religion or family background.
Let me say again that this was prepared in 1961, and in its essence has been followed through to the up until the 22d of November 1963, and this, I think, would give some reasons or give you several answers as to why the ad was placed, why it read as it did.
Mr. EISENBERG. That completes the statement?
Mr. WEISSMAN. That completes my statement.
Mr. EISENBERG. OK; then we will stand adjourned.