Regardless of whether the most visible claim in Ray and Mary La Fontaine's Oswald Talked is true -- whether Lee Harvey Oswald did, in fact, talk to one John Franklin Elrod(1) following the assassination of John F. Kennedy -- there are numerous problems with the claims that form the "big picture" of their book. While the authors hardly go out of their way to emphasize the New Orleans aspect of their theory, it is nothing less than crucial to their "follow the guns" scenario, and it relies almost wholly on the convictions of "an American original"(2) --that "flamboyant"(3) but "frequently pilloried former New Orleans DA Jim Garrison."(4)
According to the La Fontaines, Lee Harvey Oswald "had been recruited in March 1963 as an FBI informant,"(5) and "It was in the role of FBI informant that Oswald visited New Orleans later that year . . ."(6) In fact, the authors state "it would appear"(7) that Oswald himself was the FBI informant responsible for a July 31, 1963, raid on an "arms camp near Lake Pontchartrain."(8) Oswald, they conclude, must have learned of this arms cache through either "Banister and/or the gunrunning exiles of the DRE."(9)
The Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (DRE), or student directorate, was a militant right-wing, anti-Communist, anti-Castro group linked to the arms cache seized in Lacombe, Louisiana, near Lake Pontchartrain.(10) The La Fontaines write, "conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy required that the conspirators be associated with Oswald -- whether he served as coconspirator or (as he claimed) a 'patsy'" (emphasis in original).(11) "Only one group conspicuously fills this bill,"(12) the authors claim -- the DRE.
On the other hand, the La Fontaines note, "Only the Camp Street building"(13) -- where Garrison suspect Guy Banister had an office, and where the authors theorize Oswald used an office on the second floor(14) -- "can put Oswald in the company of other 'conspirators.'"(15)
"If Oswald can't be connected to such an office,"(16) the La Fontaines write, "whether as a room he really paid money for, was allowed to use for free, or just visited on occasion -- and if that office can't be solidly placed in a specific Camp Street building . . . then the game's over. Posner wins."(17)
"At some point during the summer of 1963," the authors continue, "the DRE unquestionably identified Oswald, as did Banister, as just the kind of 'nut' who could be a useful tool in the war against Castro and Fair Play for Cuba subversives."(18) Whether he learned of the arms cache from the student directorate or from Guy Banister, "Oswald would develop"(19) what the La Fontaines call a "seemingly collaborative relationship with the DRE."(20)
However, "By the end of that summer he had apparently caught Banister's evil eye,"(21) the La Fontaines state -- "This would have been particularly true if, as one might expect, word gradually started to seep through Banister's FBI grapevine about the identity of the Pontchartrain informant"(22) -- "or worse, [Oswald had] aroused the passionate animosity of the fanatically anti-Castro DRE. Later, as we'll see," the authors write," even after he was back in Dallas(23) . . . the long arms of his New Orleans antagonists would reach out and enfold the fluttering ideological moth, Lee Harvey Oswald."(24)
Let's break this rather muddy theory down into its essential parts.
Let's look at the specifics.
The La Fontaines must prove that an association with either the DRE or Guy Banister could have provided Oswald with knowledge of the Lacombe arms cache, and they must prove that Oswald had a cozy enough relationship with "Banister and/or the gunrunning exiles of the DRE"(35) to allow him access to such information.
Banister will be discussed shortly; first let's look at the DRE.
Carlos Bringuier was the DRE delegate in New Orleans and the group's only member there.(36) When Bringuier was warned by FBI agent Warren de Brueys that the Bureau could infiltrate his organization "and find out what you are doing here,"(37) Bringuier responded, "Well, you will have to infiltrate myself, because I am the only one."(38)
Bringuier was the individual that Oswald approached in August 1963, claiming to harbor anti-Castro sentiments, and professing interest in training anti-Castro exiles in "guerrilla warfare."(39) It was Bringuier with whom the ex-Marine tangled when the DRE delegate subsequently encountered Oswald handing out his pro-Castro leaflets on Canal Street. Bringuier was then one of those whom Oswald debated on WDSU radio, a debate that resulted from publicity generated by the Canal Street incident.(40)
We can break the Oswald-Bringuier question down into three smaller points. For Oswald to have learned of the DRE arms cache through his association with Carlos Bringuier, the following three things must be true:
Even if Oswald was not the informant for the July 31 raid, the third point must be true for the La Fontaines' overall theory to be valid. According to the La Fontaines, Oswald had to have been collaborating with the DRE in New Orleans, or else their entire theory collapses, as the DRE is the "only group" they theorize to have been able to involve Oswald in the assassination.(42)
First, is there any evidence that Carlos Bringuier or any of his associates knew about the arms cache at Lacombe prior to the publicity surrounding its seizure? No. The implication, of course, is that Bringuier must have, because the cache was part of an operation that the FBI attributed to the DRE,(43) and Bringuier was the DRE delegate in New Orleans.
It's not that simple, however. The DRE operation involving the arms cache was being run out of Miami by the directorate's John Koch Gene ("John Koch" in La Fontaine(44)) and Carlos Victor "Batea" Espinosa Hernandez.(45) Bringuier himself had nothing whatsoever to do with the operation or the arms cache, nor any of the DRE's paramilitary operations.(46) He was involved only in "propaganda and fund-raising activities" in New Orleans.(47) The last person who would need to know about a secret arms cache, of course, is a propaganda specialist, and the funds for the cache seem to have come from Miami through Sam Benton(48) and possibly also from Michael McLaney, at whose brother's home the cache was being stored.(49)
For Oswald to have learned of the cache from Bringuier or one of his associates would also mean that the two men had become acquainted at least a week prior to the established date of their meeting, if not a great deal earlier.(50) (Surely Oswald could not have infiltrated Bringuier's "organization" overnight, after all.) The La Fontaines note that "we should keep in mind"(51) that the information on Bringuier's initial encounter with Oswald "comes down to us only from Carlos Bringuier, a man who . . . may have a lot to hide."(52)
The La Fontaines ignore the testimony of Philip Geraci III and Vance Blalock, both of whom were present when Oswald introduced himself to Bringuier on August 5, 1963.(53) Since neither Geraci nor Blalock was a close friend of Bringuier's -- in fact, they barely knew him -- neither would seem to have any reason to perjure himself.(54)
What evidence do the La Fontaines produce to support their theory that Oswald was secretly working with Bringuier? They produce none.(55) The best they can do is offer another unsubstantiated theory of theirs, that Carlos Quiroga(56) -- a friend of Bringuier's who was not himself a member of the DRE -- might have been in league with Oswald. This, they say, "strongly suggests that the former Marine conspired with the DRE."(57)
The only semblance of evidence for Quiroga and Oswald's alleged complicity concerns the occasion that Quiroga is known to have visited Oswald's Magazine Street apartment, in order to learn more about Oswald's purported chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. According to a single witness, Mrs. Jesse James Garner, Quiroga brought with him, not "a few"(58) FPCC leaflets to return to Oswald, but rather a small stack of them.(59) According to the La Fontaines, Quiroga was therefore delivering FPCC pamphlets to Oswald.(60)
"Why would Quiroga deliver pamphlets?" asks researcher David Blackburst. "We know that Oswald ordered his own pamphlets from the FPCC and other sources, and that he himself ordered the printing of the FPCC leaflets, and that he purchased the rubber stamp set. So there seems to be no reason for Quiroga to deliver pamphlets."(61)
Indeed, Oswald seems to have been fully capable of picking up his own leaflets on other occasions. Don't printing shops also generally give the customer his purchase in a bag or box, instead of just handing him a loose stack of papers?
Even were this theory about Oswald and Carlos Quiroga correct, it would prove nothing whatsoever about Oswald and Carlos Bringuier, much less Oswald and the DRE. Carlos Quiroga, in fact, was once suspected of being a secret agent for Castro -- though he was apparently cleared of the allegation(62) -- so of all Bringuier's friends, Quiroga is the riskiest for the La Fontaines to single out as collaborating with Oswald and Bringuier.
Had Oswald and Bringuier been working together, would Bringuier testify to the Warren Commission that he had initially suspected Oswald of being an FBI infiltrator?(63) Isn't the La Fontaines' entire theory based on the allegation that the FBI, "far from investigating the assassination, had participated in a massive cover-up about Oswald" because "a real investigation would have disclosed the embarrassing fact [sic] that Oswald . . . had been recruited in March 1963 as an FBI informant"?(64)
Was this conspirator or conspirators' associate, Carlos Bringuier, so unconcerned for his own safety that he would mention such a thing? Compare his reaction, then, to that of the La Fontaine's star witness John Franklin Elrod, whose own purported claims constitute -- according to the La Fontaines themselves -- "the kind of thing a man could get killed for just knowing."(65) Would Bringuier be in any safer a position?
We'll come back to Bringuier shortly, but it's clear that where the DRE delegate is concerned, the La Fontaines are grasping at straws.
One of Jim Garrison's prime assassination suspects was former FBI agent William Guy Banister, who in 1963 was running a small private detective agency at the corner of Camp and Lafayette Streets in the heart of the Big Easy.(66)
"Oswald had Banister's address on his pamphlets," the La Fontaines state -- at a time when Oswald claimed to the FPCC in New York that he had briefly rented an office in the Crescent City.(67) Furthermore, Banister was "a probable gunrunner,"(68) the authors tell us, "mixed up with anti-Castro exiles,"(69) and involved with the "anti-Castro arms camp near Lake Pontchartrain."(70)
Banister "had probably himself been one of the major facilitators for the camp, a Mafia-CIA-Cuban-exile collaboration," we're informed,(71) which was supposedly part of "an arms-smuggling 'corridor' extending eastward [from Dallas] through Louisiana to Santos Trafficante in Miami."(72)
With Banister purportedly a member of "the gunrunning New Orleans right wing,"(73) the authors theorize that Oswald "was likely sent to the Crescent City to inform on gunrunning by right-wing subversives," such as "Guy Banister and the equally gun-happy student directorate"(74) -- the DRE.
By linking Banister to the CIA-Mafia anti-Castro plots on one side, to Oswald on the other, and the DRE in some undefined way in the middle,(75) the La Fontaines thus would hand us the final solution to the Kennedy assassination, signed, sealed, and delivered -- a grand unification theory with Guy Banister as the missing link. According to the authors, Banister had a personal connection to Lee Harvey Oswald, "had a gunrunning history and ties to all of the participants,"(76) and his private detective agency "was the Grand Central Station of the arms-smuggling underground railroad reaching from Dallas to Miami."(77)
"If Oswald can't be connected to such an office" as the one he mentioned in his letters to FPCC headquarters,(78) the La Fontaines write, "whether as a room he really paid money for, was allowed to use for free, or just visited on occasion -- and if that office can't be solidly placed in a specific Camp Street building" -- the one in which Guy Banister's office was located -- "then the game's over," they declare.(79) "Posner wins."(80)
"Only the Camp Street building can put Oswald in the company of other 'conspirators,'" they conclude. "Without this connection firmly in hand, the proponents of a conspiratorial Oswald" would find their theories all to be "built on sand."(81) "Everything turns on this office, then. On this site, the battle of New Orleans will be decided."(82)
So be it.
The La Fontaines write, "The central question in all of Oswald's New Orleans summer -- more important even than the necessary conjectures on why he was doing the crazy things he appeared to be doing -- is this: Was there an 'element of truth' in his claim to Vincent Lee, repeated three times in two months, that he was involved in 'renting a small office' for his FPCC chapter?"(83)
Does any eyewitness place Oswald in such an office? Why, yes -- in fact, two eyewitnesses: onetime Banister secretary and mistress, Delphine Roberts, and her daughter, also named Delphine.(84)
Delphine Roberts, Sr., of course, denied in 1967 having ever so much as heard Oswald's name prior to the assassination.(85) She initially repeated this in 1978,(86) and later told House Select Committee investigators that Banister had kept a file on Oswald, though that was the extent of her knowledge.(87) She stated that she had heard Banister speak of Oswald. "She did not give an opinion on whether Oswald might have been working for Banister," and she "stated she never saw Oswald in person."(88)
Later she seems to have had a change of heart. She told House committee investigators that she did see Oswald in Banister's office on a few occasions after all.(89) "She believed that Oswald was either working, or attempting to work, for Banister."(90)
She told Anthony Summers that she actually saw Oswald in Banister's office numerous times, and she had come to believe that he was working "undercover" for the ex-G-man:
As I understood it he had the use of an office on the second floor, above the main office where we worked. I was not greatly surprised when I learned he was going up and down, back and forth. Then, several times, Mr. Banister brought me upstairs, and in the office above I saw various writings stuck up on the wall pertaining to Cuba. There were various leaflets up there pertaining to Fair Play for Cuba. They were pro-Castro leaflets. Banister just didn't say anything about them one way or the other.(91)
One would expect the building's owner and landlord, Sam Newman, to be aware that one of his first-floor tenants was making use of a vacant room on the second floor, but he didn't know of any such thing, and he himself never saw Lee Harvey Oswald in or around the building.(92) The building's janitor, James Arthus, lived on the premises at 544 Camp, and he never saw Oswald there either.(93) None of the building's other tenants remembered seeing Oswald that summer,(94) and certainly no one else in Banister's office recalls Oswald "going up and down, back and forth" between the two offices.(95)
Delphine Roberts also claims that Oswald once brought his wife by the office,(96) though Marina Oswald denies ever having been to any such office with her husband.(97)
The House Select Committee, despite an apparent eagerness to link Oswald to David Ferrie(98) (a part-time investigator for Guy Banister)(99) could not accept Delphine Roberts' testimony.(100) HSCA Chief Counsel G. Robert Blakey would later write that Roberts' "demeanor as a witness did not lead us to place much credence in her testimony."(101)
It is often claimed that Delphine Roberts, Jr., supports her mother's account, but this is not precisely so. The younger Delphine claims that Oswald did not have an office at 544 Camp, but rather that "he lived there, had an apartment there, for two or three months."(102) She says that "Oswald came to 544 Camp at night and left every morning,"(103) despite the fact that Oswald spent every night that summer with his wife and daughter (except on August 9, when he spent the night in jail).(104)
The younger Delphine didn't mention anything to Anthony Summers in 1978 about having met Oswald's wife or mother, but she told Gerald Posner in 1993 that she had met one or the other and that "she was lovely."(105) (It's not clear whether Roberts meant Oswald's mother, Marguerite -- as Posner states(106) -- or whether she erroneously named Oswald's wife as "Marguerite.")
Posner interviewed both mother and daughter, and came away with some most fascinating material. He found, for example, that Delphine Roberts, Sr., "claims to be related to the 'king and queen of Wales [sic] and Mary Queen of Scots,' as well as 'being one of the very few, since the beginning of the world, who has ever read the sacred scrolls that God himself wrote and gave to the ancient Hebrews for placing in the Ark of the Covenant. . . . I think I have been the last person to see them.'"(107) She told him she was writing a book on the Kennedy assassination, "although it will also tell the story of the Creation."(108)
And, of course, Roberts was pleased to volunteer a great deal of information on her white supremacist views, which don't seem to have mellowed much over the years.(109)
This information supplements earlier Roberts anecdotes, such as her recollection that around the time she and Guy Banister met, she saw "Fidel Castro and his top aide Che Guevara walking on Canal Street" while Roberts was holding a demonstration in tribute to the American flag.(110)
Okay -- forget the office. Who needs an office anyway?
Remember: "Oswald had Banister's address on his pamphlets," the La Fontaines assure us: That "544 Camp St." stamp "is the killer, the Warren defenders' Halloween boogieman that refuses to die."(111)
As all buffs [sic] know,(112) the most important stamped address on the Oswald FPCC literature . . . was that of a now-famous corner building with entrances on different streets. By some dream logic mimicking the two faces of Oswald [sic], the building had acquired two official addresses, one for each entrance. The front entrance constituted the building's "main address" -- the one Oswald stamped on his handouts -- 544 Camp Street. The second address belonged to the more obscure side entrance, on Lafayette Street."(113)
In reality, however, 544 Camp Street was not Guy Banister's address, and when the La Fontaines state that "two different addresses"(114) -- Banister's at 531 Lafayette and the former CRC office at 544 Camp -- "referred to the same location,"(115) they are mistaken.
Both addresses did lead into the same structure of cement and steel, but contrary to what one reads in many books, the 544 Camp Street entrance did not lead to Banister's ground-level office, but only up a stairway to the second floor.(116) As onetime Banister employee Joe Newbrough puts it, "If you entered 544 Camp Street, the only way you could have gotten to Banister's office was to go out a window."(117) "Banister never even considered his office to be part of the Newman Building."(118)
Who was it who claimed that Guy Banister's address was 544 Camp Street? Jim Garrison, of course.(119)
Why did Lee Harvey Oswald stamp that address on a handful of his pamphlets? One can only speculate. It might be of some significance that the one occasion Oswald is known to have used pamphlets with the "544 Camp St." stamp was August 9, 1963, the day Carlos Bringuier and friends discovered him holding a "demonstration" only a few blocks from Bringuier's store.(120)
A year and a half earlier, 544 Camp Street had briefly been the workplace of none other than Carlos Bringuier, when he had served the Cuban Revolutionary Council out of its second-floor office, before resigning from the group to join the DRE. If, as some believe, Oswald set out on August 9, 1963, to provoke Bringuier personally into a publicity-attracting skirmish -- possibly to help inflate his résumé for his expected entrée into Cuba -- the young Marxist might have believed it a wry touch to include Bringuier's onetime work address on his leaflets.(121)
One person who believed that Oswald's behavior suggested precisely such a set-up was Lt. Francis Martello, who questioned Oswald following his arrest that day, and noted later to Warren Commission counsel Wesley Liebeler that Oswald "seemed to have set [Bringuier and friends] up, so to speak, to create an incident . . ."(122)
What other evidence is presented in Oswald Talked to make that all-important connection between Lee Harvey Oswald and the "spook-filled"(123) Newman Building?
The Clinton witnesses.
As badly as the La Fontaines themselves mangle the facts about the Clinton folk, new evidence uncovered by Patricia Lambert appears to completely discredit the Clinton story.(124)
Recall that, according to the La Fontaines, Guy Banister had been involved with "an anti-Castro arms camp near Lake Pontchartrain"(125) that "the FBI would raid that summer, while Oswald was in New Orleans."(126) Banister "had probably himself been one of the major facilitators for the camp, a Mafia-CIA-Cuban-exile collaboration."(127)
First of all, there was no "arms camp" at Lake Pontchartrain -- the La Fontaines are conflating two independent operations. The first was a paramilitary training camp run by the Movimiento Democrata Cristiano, or Christian Democratic Movement (MDC),(128) which operated briefly and without weapons(129) on land owned by wealthy ultra right-winger David L. Raggio.(130)
The second was a plan to bomb the Shell Oil Refinery in Havana, with a cache of explosives that was seized by the FBI on July 31, 1963, approximately a mile from the MDC camp, on the property of William Julius McLaney.(131) But by virtue of propinquity, the training camp and the arms cache were unrelated to one another.
The La Fontaines' only cited source for Banister's involvement with the DRE cache is a secondary source completely reliant upon other secondary sources, Claudia Furiati's ZR Rifle: The Plot to Kill Kennedy and Castro, which states, "The arms at Pontchartrain were supplied with the cooperation of the Mafia. The Louisiana corridor was controlled in Dallas by Jack Ruby,(132) and in Miami by Santos Trafficante . . . [who] was the bridge between the Mafia and the Cuban exiles." In a passage the La Fontaines neglect to cite, Furiati names Guy Banister as a key player in this "corridor."(133)
Furiati herself cites no sources for any of these claims. There can be little doubt, however, where they originated.
In 1988's On the Trail of the Assassins, Garrison describes the FBI seizure of the arms cache on the McLaney property, which he claims to have first learned of from an August 1, 1963, Times-Picayune article.(134)
Who is the single eyewitness Garrison then puts forward to link the FBI raid with William Guy Banister? Jack S. Martin -- the FBI raid at the McLaney home was "part of Banister's deal,"(135) Martin is quoted as saying. Garrison continues, "The Banister apparatus, as Martin described it, was part of a supply line that ran along the Dallas-New Orleans-Miami corridor. These supplies consisted of arms and explosives for use against Castro's Cuba."(136)
Where have we heard this theory before?
Unfortunately, Big Jim tells us, Jack Martin "would put nothing in writing, nor would he sign his name to anything."(137) "But," Garrison writes, Martin "did tell whatever he could recall about the business at Guy Banister's -- although only to me."(138)
Garrison is not being especially candid with us. Jack Martin put numerous statements in writing, and also allowed the NODA to record a number of interviews with him as well. None of these statements or interviews concerns any alleged gunrunning activities of Guy Banister's, nor do any concern the Lake Pontchartrain arms cache.(139)
Moreover, Life journalist Richard Billings was working closely with the NODA in the early stages of the JFK probe, and his contemporaneous notes contradict Garrison's 1988 account completely. Garrison told Billings in January 1967(140) that he had found out about the goings-on near Lake Pontchartrain, not from any newspaper accounts or onetime Guy Banister employees, but from two Cuban informants who had been partly responsible for organizing and operating the MDC training camp, Ricardo Davis and Angel Vega.(141) On February 11, 1967, Garrison again discussed the two Lacombe operations with Richard Billings, still naming Vega and Davis as his sources.(142)
Even if Jack Martin did reveal such things to Garrison -- off the record, of course -- is Jack Martin a reliable witness?
This is something of a contrast to remarks Garrison made to Richard Billings in December 1966 -- that Martin was "an undependable drunk,"(144) "a totally unreliable witness,"(145) and "a liar."(146) After questioning Martin on one occasion, Assistant DA Lou Ivon referred to him as "evasive,"(147) and called him "a lush and a bum."(148)
Aaron Kohn, head of New Orleans' Metropolitan Crime Commission, an influential citizens' watchdog committee, told the House Select Committee on Assassinations, "Jack Martin has always been a kind of harassing influence around here, somebody who wastes a lot of time, but you discover the best thing to do is to let him waste your time when he has things on his mind or else he wastes a lot more of your time when he gets drunk, waking you up in the middle of the night, threatening to kill you . . ."(149)
Kohn also noted that Martin's real name was Suggs, and vaguely recalled his having been "incarcerated in an institution over in Texas" under that name.(150) Kohn's memory served him well.
Jack S. Martin, born Edward Stewart Suggs, had a rap sheet stretching back to October 1944, and spanning the US from California to Arkansas to Texas to Louisiana. He was arrested in January 1945 in Fort Worth, Texas, for carrying a pistol; he was fingerprinted in Los Angeles in December 1945; he was arrested in December 1947 for disturbing the peace in San Diego and again in May 1949 in Dallas.(151)
In 1952, Martin became a suspect in a Houston murder investigation, and was arrested in May of that year for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution for that crime. On May 16, 1952, he was charged with murder; the charges were later dropped, and he became a witness in the case. He was arrested a year later in Los Angeles, and held until it was determined he was no longer wanted in Texas. In March 1954, he was fingerprinted in Galveston for vagrancy and a drunk and disorderly charge.(152)
An FBI report reads, "Our files also disclose that in January 1957, we received information from a local store in New Orleans that Suggs had become involved in an altercation with a woman he claimed to be his wife in the store and, as a result, was ejected from the store. Suggs exhibited identification to store authorities and claimed to be an FBI agent. We instituted inquiries in this matter at that time to locate Suggs and determined that he was in a psychiatric ward [at] Charity Hospital, New Orleans as of January 17, 1957. His psychiatrist informed our agents that Suggs was suffering from a character disorder . . ."
Another FBI document reports that Suggs was a patient in a psychiatric ward in 1956 through 1957.(153) An 'Informative Note' in Martin's FBI file states, "Several sources have reported Martin is a mental case."(154) The actual diagnosis was "sociopathic personality disorder, antisocial type."(155)
The FBI interviewed Edward Suggs in 1960 about impersonating an FBI agent.(156) When Martin later informed the FBI that an associate of his, Carl Stanley, "was involved in illegal activities including Fraud Against the Government," the "FBI ultimately concluded both men were mentally ill. According to Carl Stanley, Edward Suggs said he had worked for the CIA. No documents supported this."(157)
Secret Service agent Anthony Gerrets interviewed Martin in December 1963, noting that Martin "has the appearance of being an alcoholic"(158) and "has the reputation of furnishing incorrect information to law enforcement officers, attorneys, etc."(159)
A November 28, 1963, New Orleans FBI teletype stated that all the allegations linking David Ferrie to the assassination or to Lee Harvey Oswald personally in the summer of 1963 "stem from Jack S. Martin who was previously confined to the psychiatric ward of Charity Hospital, New Orleans, for character disorder. Martin is well known to New Orleans office and is considered thoroughly unreliable."(160)
The Mob-thirsty House Select Committee on Assassinations was extremely interested in linking Oswald to David Ferrie, who had been a part-time investigator for New Orleans Mob kingpin Carlos Marcello's attorney, G. Wray Gill. The committee could not accept Martin's testimony, however.(161)
Both of the La Fontaines' two main sources on Oswald's summer in New Orleans,(162) express doubts about Jack Martin's credibility. Anthony Summers,(163) calls Martin "an odd character,"(164) and notes "some justifiable doubt" about his tales.(165) Peter Dale Scott goes further. Calling David Ferrie's denials of involvement in the assassination "quite plausible,"(166) Scott writes, "More suspicious than Ferrie, in my view, is . . . Jack Martin, [who] made much of Ferrie's alleged membership in a phony church. However . . . Ferrie had testified that he 'became involved with these religious orders only to assist Martin in [an] investigation into the sale of phony certificates of ordination and consecration.' The Select Committee, after investigating Ferrie extensively, agreed that 'Martin . . . and Ferrie had performed some investigative work on a case involving an illegitimate religious order in Louisville, Ky.'"(167) "[T]his finding radically discredits Martin's multiple allegations against Ferrie."(168)
Edward Stewart Suggs, aka Jack S. Martin, summed up his life quite aptly during one of his bouts in an institution. In December 1956, at Mercy Hospital, Martin said, "I ruin everything I get my hands on."(169)
In the next section, we'll see how one of the La Fontaines' sources gives them another chance to link Guy Banister to the Lacombe arms cache. It should be borne in mind, however, that when Oswald Talks calls Guy Banister's private detective agency "the Grand Central Station of the arms-smuggling underground railroad reaching from Dallas to Miami,"(170) the authors are repeating a description from Hinckle and Turner,(171) who got it from Jim Garrison; and when Garrison describes such things, he either cites Jack S. Martin,(172) or he cites no source at all.(173)
As researcher David Blackburst has pointed out,(174) the belief among some conspiracy theorists that Guy Banister was a gunrunner seems to have sprung from the fact that Guy Banister's office was one of three locations where armaments from the infamous Houma heist(175) of 1961 were stored overnight.(176) Banister himself was not involved in the heist.(177)
The Banister-as-gunrunner theory was first prominently advanced in "The Garrison Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy," a January 1968 Ramparts article written by unofficial Garrison investigator William W. Turner.(178) Turner references an article in the New Orleans States-Item of April 25, 1967, reporting "that a reliable source close to Banister said he had seen 50 to 100 boxes marked 'Schlumberger' in Banister's office-storeroom early in 1961 before the Bay of Pigs.(179) The boxes contained rifle grenades, land mines and unique 'little missiles.' Banister explained that 'the stuff would just be there overnight . . . a bunch of fellows connected with the Cuban deal asked to leave it there overnight.'"(180)
Of course, this refers to the arms stolen from the Schlumberger Well corporation by Banister associates David Ferrie, Sergio Arcacha Smith, and others, but not Banister himself.
What is the La Fontaines' source for the claim that the "gun-happy"(181) Guy Banister was a member of "the gunrunning New Orleans right wing"(182) -- one of the "gunrunning . . . right-wing subversives"(183) that Oswald "was likely sent to the Crescent City to inform on"?(184)
They cite no source whatsoever. The closest they seem to come would be in their allusions to the "arms camp"(185) by Lake Pontchartrain, for which Banister "had probably himself been one of the major facilitators."(186) They cite no source for this claim, either.(187)
The closest thing to a citation is in reference to the authors' assertions that Banister "was the alleged organizer of the right-wing paramilitary Minutemen in the state of Louisiana,"(188) and "a known gunrunner affiliated with the Minutemen, an agent working the heart of the clandestine underground railroad of arms trafficking extending from Texas to Florida."(189)
According to Peter Dale Scott -- one of the La Fontaines' major sources -- it is as alleged organizer of the Louisiana Minutemen that "Banister may have had prior knowledge of an arms cache seized by the FBI on July 31, 1963."(190)
Following Scott's lead, the La Fontaines tell us that one of the eleven individuals arrested in connection with the McLaney arms cache(191) was Richard Lauchli,(192) a "mega gun-dealer," but more importantly, "a founding member of the Minutemen."(193)
Richard Lauchli, however, had left the Minutemen in September 1962, after a falling out with co-founder Robert DePugh.(194) Lauchli was the dealer who sold Sam Benton the dynamite seized in the Lacombe raid, but the Minutemen organization had no involvement with the arms cache or the operation for which it was intended.(195) Lauchli has never been linked to Guy Banister in any way.
Was Guy Banister the "organizer of the right-wing paramilitary Minutemen in the state of Louisiana,"(196) or even just "affiliated with the Minutemen," as the La Fontaines claim?(197)
The La Fontaines' source(198) is Peter Dale Scott,(199) who cites Warren Hinckle and William Turner.(200) Hinckle and Turner's sole source for the claim is an interview with one Jerry Milton Brooks,(201) "a former Minuteman" described as "a political researcher for Banister" circa 1961.(202)
How reliable an informant was Jerry Milton Brooks? Brooks is the source of the groundless factoid that Guy Banister was involved with the 1954 CIA-backed overthrow of the Arbenz government in Guatemala. "In his terse, clipped rhetoric," William Turner writes, Jerry Milton "Brooks told of an inscrutable front called the Anti-Communism [sic] League of the Caribbean, operating out of New Orleans, which he credits -- with CIA help -- with engineering the 1954 overthrow of the leftist Arbenz government in Guatemala."(203)
The Anti-Communist League was founded by New Orleans attorney Maurice Gatlin. Referencing an interview with Brooks, Turner writes, "the late W. Guy Banister, a former FBI division boss in New Orleans [sic], reportedly was connected with both the League and the Minutemen."(204)
Jerry Milton Brooks tells some interesting stories, but the CIA overthrow of Arbenz was launched on June 16, 1954, and completed within five days,(205) while Maurice Gatlin did not found the Anti-Communist League until September of that year,(206) and Guy Banister was the Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago FBI through December '54.(207) (Banister joined the Anti-Communist League when he became a client of Gatlin's in New Orleans.)(208)
Despite a great deal of heavy breathing from Jim Garrison and his advocates, not excluding the La Fontaines,(209) there is no evidence that Guy Banister ever worked for the CIA.(210)
Perhaps understandably, the FBI didn't think too highly of Brooks' reliability, deeming him "mentally imbalanced"(211) [sic] in a report of March 16, 1961. Likewise, the ATF was wary of him, noting a few years later that "he apparently wants to do something to gain attention or notoriety."(212)
On one occasion, Brooks' testimony as a government witness against Minutemen founder Robert DePugh helped put DePugh in jail for four years, though privately, Brooks said he possessed information that could have exonerated DePugh.(213)
Brooks had a police record that included attempted burglary in 1948, burglary and larceny in 1950, and extortion in 1957.(214)
On November 22, 1963, when La Fontaine witness Delphine Roberts "heard the news [about the assassination] on the radio,"(215) she "jumped up from her desk, twirled around the office, and said, 'Oh, he's dead, he's dead, he's dead!"(216) She told her boss that "she was glad the President had been shot."(217)
"Don't let anybody hear you talk like that," Guy Banister snapped. "It's a terrible thing that someone could shoot the President."(218) Banister closed his office early and kept it closed for several days out of respect.(219)
"He didn't like the President, but he was a loyal FBI man," Roberts says of her former lover and boss.(220)
There is no evidence that Guy Banister had any connection with the arms cache seized at the McLaney property, nor the operation for which it was intended -- nor the assassination of John F. Kennedy.(221)
The La Fontaines aren't finished with the McLaney cache yet.
The La Fontaines write, "It was in the role of FBI informant that Oswald visited New Orleans"(222) in the summer of 1963; and they claim that somewhere down the memory hole is "Oswald's informant file, showing the ex-Marine as the informant in the Pontchartrain operation,"(223) meaning the seizure of the infamous arms cache.(224)
That file was ostensibly glimpsed by William S. Walter, the onetime FBI employee who first came forward in the late Sixties to tell Mark Lane and Jim Garrison that the FBI had suppressed information concerning a possible threat upon JFK's life.(225) Walter first spoke of "Oswald's informant file"(226) eleven years later, to the House Select Committee.(227) (Is it really possible that Walter simply neglected to mention Oswald's alleged informant status to Lane and Garrison a decade earlier?)(228)
It wasn't until 1995, however,that Walter mentioned anything connecting Oswald to a specific report on the Lacombe arms cache. In an interview with Mary La Fontaine, Walter said that he had seen an informant file on Oswald, which "identified Oswald as a Bureau informant on the DRE's Pontchartrain arms cache."(229)
Is Walter's latest claim on the level?
Though the name of the Pontchartrain informant is still classified by the FBI, we do know two things about him: one, he was a Cuban exile pilot and businessman (described as having "numerous contacts among the Cuban population of South Florida"); and two, he was reporting to the FBI in Miami, not New Orleans. (230) Either fact, of course, would rule Lee Harvey Oswald out.
One other bit of information is worthy of note. William S. Walter initially came forward with the claim that the FBI had dispatched a teletype to its field offices in the wee small hours of November 17, 1963, warning of an assassination attempt to be made on the President's life in Dallas. After the assassination, this teletype purportedly disappeared from all files in all of the FBI's offices, and Walter claims he was instructed never to mention it to anyone.(231)
Walter later attempted to reconstruct the alleged teletype warning from memory. The La Fontaines emphasize Walter's notation that a "Cuban faction" of some kind was under suspicion for this upcoming assassination attempt, and theorize that the DRE was the "Cuban faction" in question.(232)
The relevant portion of the reconstruction, exactly as published in the La Fontaines' book, reads as follows, with the bracketed insertions and italics as in La Fontaine:
INFO HAS BEEN RECEIVED BY THE BUREA[U]S BUREAU
HAS DETERMINED THAT A [Walter handwritten insertion:
CUBAN FACTION QOU] MILITANT REVOLUTIONARY GROUP
MAY ATTEMPT TO ASSASSINATE PRESIDENT KENNEDY ON
HIS PROPOSED TRIP TO DALLAS TEXAS NOVEMBER
TWENTY TWO DASH TWENTY THREE NINETEEN SIXTY
THREE. ALL RECEIVING OFFICES SHOULD IMMEDIATELY
CONTACT ALL CI'S; PCIS LOGICAL RACE AND HATE GROUP
INFORMANTS AND DETERMINE IF ANY BASIS FOR
That's odd -- wouldn't "race and hate group informants" be better prospects for information if the "militant revolutionary group" in question were an ultra right-wing "race" or "hate" group like the Ku Klux Klan, which the FBI was informed actually did threaten John F. Kennedy's life in Dallas?(234) Wouldn't informants in the Cuban exile community be a better place to start for information on a militant Cuban threat?
The authors are unclear as to where they got their copy of the reconstruction. According to the La Fontaines, when the House Select Committee on Assassinations questioned Walter in 1978, they asked him specifically what the notation Cuban faction QOU meant, and he replied he did not know.(235) So presumably, the notation was on the reconstructed message in 1978. According to the House Select Committee, the reconstruction was first obtained by the government in 1975, when Walter gave the FBI a copy.(236)
Mark Lane received a copy of Walter's reconstructed teletype under the Freedom of Information Act and forwarded it to Jim Garrison.(237) Here is precisely how the relevant portion of Garrison's copy reads, with bracketed notation and line breaks as in Garrison:
INFORMATION HAS BEEN RECEIVED
BY THE BUREAS [sic] BUREAU HAS
DETERMINED THAT A MILITANT
REVOLUTIONARY GROUP MAY ATTEMPT TO
ASSASSINATE PRESIDENT KENNEDY ON
HIS PROPOSED TRIP TO DALLAS TEXAS
NOVEMBER TWENTY TWO DASH TWENTY
THREE NINETEEN SIXTY THREE. ALL
RECEIVING OFFICES SHOULD IMMEDIATELY
CONTACT ALL CIS, PCIS LOGICAL RACE
AND HATE GROUP INFORMANTS AND
DETERMINE IF ANY BASIS FOR THREAT.(238)
Notice anything different?
The La Fontaines state that the raid on the Pontchartrain cache was a "turning point"(239) "in the eyes of the extremist CIA, Mafia, and Cuban exile elements -- the incident that finally convinced this alliance of convenience that John Fitzgerald Kennedy was hopelessly ambivalent, a condition for which a permanent solution was required."(240)
What's the authors' source for this claim? Why, it's ZR Rifle, a television documentary based on Claudia Furiati's book of the same title.(241)
Would anyone care to venture a guess as to where this theory originated? Let's compare it to the words of a certain onetime New Orleans DA:
On the operative level of the conspiracy, you find anti-Castro Cuban exiles who never forgave Kennedy for failing to send in US air cover at the Bay of Pigs and who . . . felt they would never see their homes again if Kennedy's policy of détente was allowed to succeed. . . . In the New Orleans area, where the conspiracy was hatched, the CIA was training a mixed bag of Minutemen, Cuban exiles and other anti-Castro adventurers north of Lake Pontchartrain for a foray into Cuba and an assassination attempt on Fidel Castro. David Ferrie, who operated on the "command" level of the [conspiracy], was deeply involved in this effort. The CIA itself apparently did not take the détente too seriously until the late summer of 1963, because it maintained its financing and training of anti-Castro adventurers. There was, in fact, a triangulation of CIA-supported anti-Castro activity between Dallas -- where Jack Ruby was involved in collecting guns and ammunition for the underground -- and Miami and New Orleans, where most of the training was going on. But then, Kennedy . . . began to crack down on CIA operations against Cuba. As a result, on July 31, 1963, the FBI raided the headquarters of the group of Cuban exiles and Minutemen training north of Lake Pontchartrain and confiscated all their guns and ammunition -- despite the fact that the operation had the sanction of the CIA. This action may have sealed Kennedy's fate.
-- Jim Garrison, Playboy interview, October 1967(242)
For all of Garrison's rhetoric, there is no evidence this raid had any particular significance to the Cuban exile community. That legendary cache of explosives was intended for a bombing mission reportedly to involve exactly two planes and two pilots.(243) Though it is universally acknowledged that US support of anti-Castro activity peaked in 1963, the DRE's activities were not curtailed in the slightest by the Lacombe raid, and their relationship with the US government remained strong and healthy through 1966.(244)
Why would this raid have been any more important than, say, the arrests of several of the very same people planning the exact same mission six weeks earlier?(245) Why would it have been more important than -- just to name one example -- the raid on MDC headquarters in Miami on April 21, 1964, which resulted in the seizure of another large cache of arms and ammunition -- which itself didn't curtail anti-Castro activity to any appreciable degree?(246) Why would it have any more significance than any of the many other battles between the Feds and the exiles, which would continue for years?(247)
Garrison is also making the same mistake the La Fontaines do when they talk of an "arms camp" at Lake Pontchartrain -- conflating two independent operations, the MDC training camp and the McLaney arms cache.(248) To hear it from Big Jim, one would actually think that Mike McLaney's vacation cottage was the "headquarters" of a massive CIA-Minutemen-exile paramilitary operation. Who does Big Jim think he's fooling?
He's fooling Ray and Mary La Fontaine, for starters.
The La Fontaines' feelings about Big Jim seem to be fairly well spelled out in one particular section of their book, a section that also happens to demonstrate the kind of scholarly methodology the La Fontaines and Jim Garrison seem to share.
"Whatever may be said about Garrison's mistakes, and they were legion," the La Fontaines state, "the DA was on a fertile path. He had zeroed in on the early sixties occupants of the Newman Building at 544 Camp Street [sic], and on participants in the burglary of an arms bunker near Lake Pontchartrain [sic] in 1961." (The 1961 heist took place in Houma, south of New Orleans, not by Lake Pontchartrain, north of New Orleans. Either way, the authors never state precisely what significance the 1961 Houma heist could have had to the assassination investigation.) In addition to David Ferrie, they note, there was one man who "fit both categories"(249) -- "Sergio Arcacha Smith."(250)
The La Fontaines claim that in February 1967, the Dallas police department "was assisted by a journalist, Hugh Aynesworth, who shared information with the police intelligence division. It was information that, if not divulged, might have led to a different outcome for the prosecutor. Instead, he was never able to question the one man who by his associations connected Ferrie, Shaw, and Guy Banister. His name was Sergio Arcacha Smith."(251) Aynesworth's information, we're informed, "effectively contributed to the sabotaging of Garrison's efforts."(252)
What extraordinary statements these are. Are the La Fontaines saying that Clay Shaw might have indeed been convicted of conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy had an alleged association with Sergio Arcacha Smith been uncovered? Do the authors believe that Clay Shaw was, in fact, guilty as charged?
What information precisely did Aynesworth have that allegedly demolished Garrison's case beyond repair?
Aynesworth gave the Dallas police intelligence unit the names of some people who had been questioned by Garrison's office.(253)
O the horror! O the shame! As if the two local papers in New Orleans weren't reporting the comings and goings of every single person who walked through the doors of the Criminal District Court Building at Tulane and Broad.(254)
Also Aynesworth actually had the nerve -- the unmitigated gall! -- to interview Sergio Arcacha Smith in Texas and tell him that Jim Garrison considered him an "important witness."(255)
Garrison himself, of course, had no problem saying as much to the press,(256) which obligingly labeled Arcacha a "fugitive from Garrison's investigation,"(257) despite the fact that Arcacha had left New Orleans five years earlier.(258) But to the La Fontaines, this is a blatant act of "tampering with a witness and doing so in the very offices of a law enforcement intelligence unit."(259)
According to the La Fontaines, Aynesworth's "bombshell"(260) insured that Garrison's office "was never able to question" Arcacha.(261) But they know this isn't true -- their own book says that the NODA had the opportunity to question Arcacha, and refused to do so unless Arcacha waived his right to legal representation.(262)
Arcacha was perfectly willing to speak to Garrison so long as his lawyer was present, and -- as his lawyer stated at a May 1967 extradition hearing -- "so long as [Arcacha] doesn't have to go into the lair of Mr. Garrison,"(263) who was well known to be harassing Arcacha's former associates in New Orleans.(264)
It was not Aynesworth, however, who convinced Arcacha to be wary of Garrison. In the early days of the DA's investigation, "an assistant DA, at Garrison's direction, called Smith on a number of occasions and asked him to come to New Orleans to answer questions. Smith was not, assured the assistant DA, a suspect. Some of the Cubans whom Garrison had already interviewed, however, felt otherwise and had told Smith in no uncertain terms that the Orleans Parish DA was trying to 'frame' him. Smith declined to come."(265)
In fact it was Aynesworth who personally tried to arrange a face-to-face meeting between Arcacha and Garrison. Arrangements were made for Garrison to visit Arcacha in Dallas, and a date was set. Garrison never showed. Arcacha's attorney followed up with a registered letter to the DA, offering to meet with Garrison or any member of his staff, in any place but New Orleans. The letter was never answered.(266)
The La Fontaines don't belabor the fact that because of Garrison's innuendo, Arcacha was arrested in Texas and released on $1,500 bond (reduced from the original figure of $5,000).(267) They don't mention the fact that Arcacha lost his job because of Garrison, that Arcacha and his attorney received death threats because of the DA's baseless and increasingly wild allegations, or that Arcacha and his wife had to seek special protection for their children, whose father was suddenly a "suspect" in the Kennedy assassination.(268)
Assuming for a moment that associations are indeed suitable grounds for prosecution, however, let's examine the methodology with which the La Fontaines link Arcacha to Clay Shaw. They write, "According to CIA documents released in 1977, Shaw was indeed a CIA asset, and Arcacha was the New Orleans delegate to an organization set up by the agency as an umbrella for all Cuban exile organizations, the Cuban Revolutionary Council."(269)
But Clay Shaw was not a CIA asset at the time the Cuban Revolutionary Council existed -- if, in fact, the CIA would ever have considered a mere contact like Shaw an asset at all -- and the La Fontaines know that. The 1977 CIA releases they cite -- but do not quote -- specifically state that Shaw's relationship with the Agency's Domestic Contact Service ended in 1956.(270)
Even were this not so, no domestic contact could have had anything to do with CRC activities in New Orleans. Domestic contacts report on information obtained in foreign nations, in an overt fashion, through their routine activities.(271) A summary of the information Shaw gave the Agency was available to the public four years prior to the time the La Fontaines published their book.(272)
What connection to the assassination could Sergio Arcacha Smith have possibly had? Arcacha was fired from the Cuban Revolutionary Council on January 20, 1962, and he left Louisiana the following October.(273) The La Fontaines are aware of this.(274)
Who was Sergio Vicente Arcacha Smith? The La Fontaines never even bother to ask the question, much less try to answer it. Gus Russo is the only author who has ever tried to set the record straight:
In pre-Castro Havana, President Batista appointed Sergio Arcacha Smith Cuba's ambassador to India. Arcacha had actually attended high school with controversial young Fidel Castro, whom he disliked. However, he held President Kennedy and his brother Bobby in high esteem. "Kennedy lacked experience, but he had charisma," Arcacha offers. "The proof of his charisma is that when he died, people in every country cried."(275)
After the revolution, Arcacha went to Venezuela. "The original idea was to set up the Frente [Frente Revolutionario Democratico (FRD)] there. However, the Frente was formed in Mexico," Arcacha recalls. After a brief stopover in Miami, the Frente leadership sent him to New Orleans to oversee that city's outpost, an umbrella organization known as the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC).(276)
Shortly before the April 17, 1961, Bay of Pigs invasion, the United States, attempting to coordinate the various exile groups, formed the CRC. It was an activist group whose stated purpose was "to establish a democratic government in Cuba through the use of military force." According to the CIA, which helped form the alliance, the CRC was "created . . . to coordinate and direct FRD activity . . . [It] had direct access to President Kennedy and top White House aides . . . Arcacha Smith became the [CRC] delegate in New Orleans."(277) On the CRC's board of directors sat such Bobby Kennedy exile intimates as Manuel Ray and Manuel Artime. This was not by accident. Prior to the Bay of Pigs invasion, the White House had called upon the Council to monitor pro-Castro activists who threatened to kidnap JFK's children. When the CRC opened its branch in New Orleans, it tapped Arcacha to be its delegate.(278)
Arcacha is protective of his friends, and it is only now, three decades after the fact, that he made himself available for the first time to talk about certain aspects of his time in New Orleans.(279)
Arcacha's most important superior was Robert Kennedy. Arcacha is discreet when asked about Bobby Kennedy directly, saying only, "In 1961, I started working with the US government." He would first acknowledge their relationship (off the record) to Dick Billings, former editor of Life, in April 1967. This magazine had long involved itself in anti-Castro operations. "Off the record," Arcacha insisted, "because I do not want to involve Mr. Kennedy and do not think it would be right. . . . [W]e used to call Mr. Bobby Kennedy whenever we had anything to report or ask advice [sic]. He knew what we were doing all the time. But please don't use this, as it's off the record. That's the way it was. We would call Mr. Bobby Kennedy and he would take care of it."(280)
How Arcacha became acquainted with the Attorney General is something that he is not yet ready to discuss, but one thing is certain: he was close to Bobby Kennedy, and their bond would strengthen as the years progressed.(281)
Whatever his relationship with RFK, it is well known in the exile community that Arcacha was heavily involved in smuggling exiles out of Cuba. Public relations executive Ronnie Caire helped Arcacha to begin fund-raising, to set up bank accounts, etc. He testified that Arcacha attempted to purchase PT-boats for the Cuban invasion. In addition, Caire said, the New York Times reported one week before the invasion that Arcacha's New Orleans branch of the CRC coordinated the exile training camps around New Orleans.(282) Arcacha also smuggled spies into the Cuban underground, facilitated by his experience and contacts in Batista's secret police prior to the Castro takeover.(283)
As to his own role, Arcacha implied that the Cubans he was recruiting were to become part of the landing force, Brigade 2506.(284) Recently, Arcacha admitted that he also assisted the ill-fated Bay of Pigs mission of Nino Diaz, and coordinated shipments of supplies to the training camps in Latin America.(285)
Arcacha still considers the details of his relationship with the Kennedys during this time as the equal of state secrets. However, some details have been recently revealed. "Whenever we needed a plane, for example to send arms to the camps in Nicaragua, I'd call Bobby. The next day it would be there," recalls Arcacha. Robert Kennedy had vested interests in Latin American Cuban exile training camps . . . and was giving Arcacha an open channel.
Regretfully, Arcacha says, his travails in New Orleans were in vain, as "Castro knew everything we were doing. He had people everywhere."(286)
According to some, Arcacha also was instrumental in arms procurement for the many raids on Cuba that were, after the Bay of Pigs, to become part of 1962's Operation Mongoose. But often, his proximity to the administration's plans (and his "Cuban big mouth") would cause trouble.(287) ["Cubans talk too much," Arcacha says flatly.](288) Three months before the Bay of Pigs invasion, he was quoted in the local newspaper as predicting, "Cubans will launch an invasion in 1961 to overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro. The actual invasion will not be launched from US territory."(289) One week before the invasion, Arcacha again spoke with the paper, saying, "Preparations are almost complete for an anti-Castro Cuban invasion . . . The invasion could begin this afternoon, tomorrow, anytime. We are just waiting for the signal."(290)
After the Bay of Pigs was launched, Arcacha told the paper of how he had waited by his short-wave radio for the coded signal: "Look to the rainbow. The sky is clear. The fish are ready." According to Arcacha, each sentence had its own important meaning.(291)
Russo implies that Arcacha immediately set up operations in the Newman Building at Camp and Lafayette building,(292) when actually he and the CRC were in the nearby Balter Building for most of their time in New Orleans. Arcacha opened an office in the Balter Building in December 1960(293) and moved to the Newman Building the following October.(294) He was only at 544 Camp Street for three months before being deposed from his position with the CRC.(295)
"I rented office space at 544 Camp Street," he says. "My office was on the second floor above the restaurant [Mancuso's], and Banister's was downstairs and around the corner. I only met Banister three or four times. He was more interested in Central America than Cuba. Any contact with his office was through Dave Ferrie, whom I saw regularly."(296)
With Garrison making so much noise about the 544 Camp Street "assassins," Sergio Arcacha worried that the real truth of that operation might surface, forever making him and Robert Kennedy's secret war -- in the public's mind at least -- the reason Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John Kennedy. In late March, Arcacha wrote US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, asking for support in his fight against Garrison. On April 6, 1967, Assistant Attorney General Fred Vinson, Jr., replied, writing that "it would not be proper for us to comment in a case pending in a state court." However, Bobby Kennedy, as was his wont, would soon take things into his hands in his own way, showing his personal solidarity with Sergio Arcacha Smith.(297)
On March 28, 1967, former Arcacha volunteer Layton Martens tried to get the FBI to intervene in Garrison's persecution of Arcacha, reminding the Bureau that "Senator Robert Kennedy had approved" Arcacha's activities in New Orleans, and warning them that "Garrison may bring Senator Kennedy's name into the case."(298) Martens reaffirmed his story to the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978,(299) and to Gus Russo in 1994.(300) Both Arcacha and Martens took polygraph tests in 1967 and passed.(301)
Just when things were their most bleak for Arcacha, he received a telephone call from Bobby Kennedy's secretary, Angela Novello. The Senator had made arrangements for Arcacha to fly to Washington and put his story on film. Walter Sheridan would make him part of his NBC News special, but agreed not to air Arcacha's segment without his permission. . . . "I told them everything about my work in New Orleans, but I never gave them permission to use it."(302)
Here is what Arcacha would say later about his meeting with Robert Kennedy in Washington. "We met in Senator Kennedy's office. Bobby had put me up in a penthouse for a week. He said to me, 'Sergio, I know none of your people killed my brother. Why is Garrison doing this? You know that there is nobody in the world who wants to find out who killed Jack than I.'" With that, Bobby Kennedy produced from his desk one of the coveted PT-109 tie-clips, bestowed only upon close friends. "Here, Sergio, this is for being a friend of the Kennedy family," said Bobby. Arcacha retains the clip to this day.(303)
"Whenever we needed anything in New Orleans," Arcacha told Russo in 1994, "I'd call Bobby Kennedy and he'd help us right away. He was always there for us. I stayed in touch with him until the end."(304)
This is the person who, according to the La Fontaines, could have redeemed Jim Garrison's debacle and put Clay Shaw behind bars for twenty years-to-life?
Are the La Fontaines even aware of the fact that by Jim Garrison's own account, Sergio Arcacha Smith was not under suspicion for the Kennedy assassination at all, but only the 1961 Houma burglary, which wasn't even in Garrison's jurisdiction?(305) Arcacha has never been linked to the assassination, a crime in which he would never have taken part.(306)
Having scrutinized the La Fontaine methodology,(307) here comes the punchline: Arcacha did know Clay Shaw. Arcacha approached Shaw on one occasion around December 1960, when he was seeking funds for the fledgling New Orleans delegation of the Cuban Revolutionary Council. This is revealed in a polygraph test administered to Arcacha in March 1967. Here is the relevant exchange:
Q. Did you ever meet Clay Shaw?
Q. Were you alone with Shaw at the time of this meeting?
Q. Was Martin Mackaulif [sic -- anti-Castro activist Martin McAuliffe] with you at the time?
Q. Were you at any time in Clay Shaw's office?
Q. Did this meeting take place in a coffee shop at the International Trade Mart?
Q. Did you discuss with Shaw the idea of a Crusade to Free Cuba?
Q. Did you discuss any other issue with him?
Q. Did he express any interest whatsoever in this Crusade?
Q. Did you talk to Shaw at any other time?
Q. Did you ever meet or talk to a Clay Bertrand?(308)
Examiner John Spoonmore writes, "Our test reflects that Smith was truthful" in answering these questions.(310)
Explosive stuff, eh?
Yet the La Fontaines insist that were it not for the near-treasonous actions of Hugh Aynesworth, there could have been a "different outcome" for Jim Garrison.(311)
Precisely how well informed are the La Fontaines when it comes to Big Jim's case?
When Clay Shaw "was acquitted -- and the national reputation of prosecutor Jim Garrison ruined," was it, as the La Fontaines state, because the jurors "couldn't find any motivation . . . for the respected trade mart director to have taken part in a conspiracy to assassinate the president"?(312)
No, the jurors -- by their own accounts -- acquitted because Jim Garrison had no case.
Was an indictment for David Ferrie "imminent" at the time of his death, as the La Fontaines believe?(313) No, Garrison made that up. There were no plans to arrest Ferrie at that time.(314)
Was the black Cadillac seen in Clinton, Louisiana, checked out and found to be "registered to the International Trade Mart," as it is written in Oswald Talked?(315) No, by the prosecution's own account at the Shaw trial, no such thing ever happened.
Did Garrison threaten "to subpoena" Oswald's fellow Marine, Kerry Thornley, "as a material witness," as the La Fontaines would have it?(316) No, Garrison tried to coerce false testimony out of Thornley, charged him with perjury when he refused to go along, and tried to frame him as a conspirator, as described in this article by David Lifton, the researcher who put Garrison in touch with Thornley. To cover his tracks later on, Garrison lied about how he found Thornley, omitting mention of Lifton completely.(317)
One day perhaps the La Fontaines will enlighten us all about Jim Garrison's many "mistakes."(318) Would those "mistakes" include suborning perjury, as Garrison did with star witness Perry Raymond Russo? The La Fontaines reference Russo only once in their book, describing him parenthetically as "a witness in Jim Garrison's Clay Shaw trial who placed Oswald together with Shaw and David Ferrie."(319)
One would never know from the La Fontaines' book that, aside from an easily impeached witness named Charles Spiesel, Perry Raymond Russo was Jim Garrison's only conspiracy witness.
Would these "mistakes" the La Fontaines speak of include suborning perjury from Vernon Bundy, attempted bribery of witnesses like Alvin Beauboeuf, and coercion of false statements from witnesses like Jules Ricco Kimble?
Would Garrison's "mistakes" include blatantly and demonstrably lying on dozens and dozens of documented occasions both to the media(320) and in his memoirs? Would these mistakes include personally fabricating evidence for the benefit of the House Select Committee on Assassinations? How about perjuring himself before the Orleans Parish Grand Jury? Or blatantly misrepresenting the circumstances of David Ferrie's death?
Would these "mistakes" apply to actions of Garrison's over and above the Kennedy probe, such as harassing civil rights workers or otherwise grossly abusing his office, as researcher Jerry Shinley has demonstrated?
Would these "mistakes" include the countless factoids of Garrison's own invention that have become enshrined in countless conspiracy books, such as the myth that Lee Harvey Oswald had some spooky connection to NASA, the fairy tale that Clay Shaw used the alias "Clay Bertrand,"(321) or the groundless allegation that a phone call linked one of Garrison's suspects, David Ferrie, to Jack Ruby?
Considering that the La Fontaines blame Hugh Aynesworth, of all people,(322) for helping "shape the national view of Garrison as a corrupt, out-of-control public official,"(323) it's unlikely that the La Fontaines will be discussing any of the substantive issues of the Garrison case anytime soon. Once one begins to do that, it becomes difficult to justify using Big Jim's unsubstantiated theories as evidence.(324)
You may wish to see:
1. For more information, please click here. The title of this article derives from Marianne Sullivan's 1994 memoir, Kennedy Ripples: A True Love Story, utilized as a source by Ray and Mary La Fontaine in Oswald Talked (La Fontaine, 263-74).
2. Ray and Mary La Fontaine, Oswald Talked, 342.
3. La Fontaine, 339.
4. La Fontaine, 24.
5. La Fontaine, 6. The La Fontaines state that the FBI had picked "him up from the CIA, the likely agency that had earlier sent the ex-Marine, complete with telltale intelligence ID, on a mission to Russia" (Ibid.). The "telltale intelligence ID," in fact, is the only evidence the authors present linking Oswald to the CIA. The Assassination Records Review Board investigated the issue; please click here to read their findings and the supporting documentation.
6. The La Fontaines claim that Dallas FBI agent James Hosty "probably 'recruited' or otherwise dragooned"Oswald "into participating in a covert check of mail-order gun dealers" (Ibid., 181). Hosty discusses this and other subjects in this 1996 interview conducted by researcher Steve Bochan.
7. La Fontaine, 183.
8. La Fontaine, 182, see 300-10.
9. La Fontaine, 183; see La Fontaine 6-7, 145-7, 154-62, 181-3, 300-10, 351-61. "After thirty years of communal agonizing, two viable readings are left of the Oswald weirdness in New Orleans that summer" (Ibid., 145). One is the Warren Commission's conclusion that Oswald spent the summer promoting the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) and building a résumé of sorts as a friend of Castro's revolution.
For reasons that aren't entirely clear, the La Fontaines link this theory to the man they call "an American original" (Ibid., 342), Jim Garrison, who -- if the Warren Commission version is correct -- was "himself [according to the La Fontaines] mentally unstable," (Ibid., 145) and who must have then, in the La Fontaines opinion, "maliciously exploited" (Ibid.) Oswald's summer in New Orleans, apparently "for his personal aggrandizement" (Ibid.).
The other interpretation they call the "Summers-Scott" theory, based on Anthony Summers' Conspiracy (now reissued as Not In Your Lifetime) and Peter Dale Scott's Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, and built upon earlier theories propounded by Harold Weisberg and Jim Garrison (Ibid.). According to this theory, Oswald was collaborating with elements of US intelligence to smear such leftist organizations as the FPCC (Ibid.).
As the La Fontaines see it, "Garrison, in this scenario, far from a malevolent degenerate as he is often depicted, was a courageous crusader ahead of his time" (Ibid., 146). The authors fail to note that neither Anthony Summers nor Peter Dale Scott of the "Summers-Scott" theory would be likely to agree. Summers says that Garrison's "probe has long been recognized by virtually everyone -- including serious scholars who believe there was a conspiracy -- as a grotesque, misdirected shambles" (Anthony Summers, Conspiracy, 1991 ed., the relevant passage being quoted here), while Scott and his co-editors on The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond call Garrison's prosecution of Clay Shaw "seemingly indefensible" (Peter Dale Scott, Paul L. Hoch and Russell Stetler, eds., The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond, 9).
The La Fontaines would have it both ways: Oswald was a genuine Marxist whom the FBI sent to "New Orleans to keep tabs on [Garrison suspect Guy] Banister and other right-wing subversives" (La Fontaine, 182)
But Oswald didn't count on the evils that awaited him in something the La Fontaines call "the Banister/DRE lair" (Ibid., 183). "To Banister, the FPCC was no more than an entertaining front organization run by a kook whom the ex-agent encouraged by providing an upstairs office to store leaflets and other paraphernalia. To [New Orleans DRE delegate Carlos] Bringuier, the mythical local chapter, complete with a pro-Marxist former defector at its head, provided the perfect anti-Castro propaganda campaign" (Ibid.).
"For his part, Oswald may have agreed to serve the DRE's ends -- participating in a media blitz 'unmasking' the FPCC as a Communist-controlled organization for propagandist Bringuier -- in order to gain the confidence of the exile group and obtain information on such matters as the Pontchartrain operation" (Ibid.).
10. La Fontaine, 310. Though the La Fontaines fail to cite a source for the arms cache's connection to the DRE, Peter Dale Scott writes, "The FBI reported in 1967 that the 1963 dynamite cache at the McLaneys' 'was an operation of the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (DRE)'" (Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 340 fn. 63, citing FBI airtel 62-109060-4758). Two DRE members from Miami were arrested in connection with the cache, John Koch Gene and Carlos "Batea" Hernandez; according to Scott, the above-mentioned FBI report mentions another DRE member, Jose Basulto Leon, but Scott does not explain Basulto's connection, as he was not among those arrested.
While DRE involvement with the cache would seem to be well established, it should be noted that the usually-well-informed Scott not only conflates the MDC camp and the McLaney arms cache, but he conflates both with an exile training camp operated in the summer of 1962 by Gerry Patrick Hemming and Frank Sturgis (Peter Dale Scott, Crime and Cover-Up, 17-8; Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 88-9, 120).
11. La Fontaine, 7.
12. La Fontaine, 7. The word "conspicuously" could be the authors' escape clause, as they never claimed there was anything conspicuous about Oswald's alleged access to an office in 544 Camp Street. Neither, though, is there much conspicuous about his alleged association with the DRE.
13. La Fontaine, 147.
14. La Fontaine, 147-52, 181-4.
15. La Fontaine, 147.
16. La Fontaine, 147.
17. La Fontaine, 147. Gerald Posner, for any who don't know, is the author of the 1993 book, Case Closed, which posits that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin of John F. Kennedy. The authors add that Posner "knows full well that on this matter there can be no compromise or misguided, faint-hearted mercy. The Camp Street address rubber-stamped on the FPCC literature is a poisonous snake in the garden threatening the orderly creation of Posner's New Orleans Oswald" (Ibid., 150).
18. La Fontaine, 147, 311.
19. La Fontaine, 183.
20. La Fontaine, 183. Since it was Jim Garrison who popularized the theory that Oswald indeed was collaborating with right-wing elements in New Orleans, to prove this theory valid would prove -- in the La Fontaines' view -- that Garrison, "far from a malevolent degenerate as he is often depicted, was a courageous crusader ahead of his time" (La Fontaine, 145. See endnote 8).
21. La Fontaine, 147, 184.
22. La Fontaine, 147, 183.
23. La Fontaine, 147, 184. For a discussion of the La Fontaines' theory of Oswald and the DRE in Dallas, please click here.
24. La Fontaine, 184.
25. La Fontaine, 7. "The only groups intimately associated with Oswald were the right-wing Dallas Russian community [and only in late 1962/early 1963 -- DR], and the militant, CIA-funded DRE [but only -- so far as is known -- through the person of Carlos Bringuier -- DR]. The new evidence," the La Fontaines continue, "strongly suggests that Oswald first attempted to infiltrate the DRE in New Orleans as an FBI informant on neutrality and weapons issues. As we may recall, the leftist former defector was likely sent to the Crescent City to inform on gunrunning by right-wing subversives. Guy Banister and the equally gun-happy student directorate, which, though supposedly a propaganda group, had stockpiled the Pontchartrain arms cache raided by the Bureau in late July, were obvious targets. Indeed, Oswald's informant file, seen by former FBI employee William S. Walter, identified Oswald as a Bureau informant on the DRE's Pontchartrain arms cache" (La Fontaine, 310).
26. La Fontaine, 7. A "conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy required that the conspirators be associated with Oswald -- whether he served as coconspirator or (as he claimed) a 'patsy'" (Ibid.; emphasis in original). "Only one group conspicuously fills this bill,"the La Fontaines claim -- the DRE (Ibid.).
27. La Fontaine, 154.
28. La Fontaine, 154.
29. La Fontaine, 183; see 6-7, 145-7, 154-62, 181-3, 300-10, 351-61.
30. La Fontaine, 222, citing ZR Rifle documentary (Nei Sroulevich, producer), based on Claudia Furiati's ZR Rifle: The Plot to Kill Kennedy and Castro.
31. La Fontaine, 222.
32. La Fontaine, 222.
33. La Fontaine, 183.
34. La Fontaine, 183.
35. La Fontaine, 183.
36. Warren Commission Report, 728; Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 34-5; House Select Committee on Assassinations Final Report, 141; House Select Committee on Assassinations Hearings Vol. X, 85, 132. Click here to read Carlos Bringuier's Warren Commission testimony.
37. Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 34-5.
38. Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 34-5.
39. Warren Commission Report, 728. On August 5, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald "visited a store managed by Carlos Bringuier, a Cuban refugee and avid opponent of Castro, and the New Orleans delegate of the Cuban student directorate. Oswald indicated an interest in joining the struggle against Castro. He told Bringuier that he had been a marine and was trained in guerrilla warfare, and that he was willing not only to train Cubans to fight Castro but also to join the fight himself. The next day Oswald returned to the store and left his 'Guidebook for Marines' for Bringuier" (Ibid.).
A few days later, a friend of Bringuier's saw Oswald passing out Fair Play for Cuba Committee leaflets on Canal Street, not far from the store Bringuier managed. He, Bringuier and another exile proceeded to the site of Oswald's mini-demonstration, and Bringuier was enraged when he recognized the pro-Castro demonstrator as the anti-Castro activist wannabe of a few days before. Though no physical violence resulted, some heated words were uttered, a crowd gathered, and Oswald was arrested along with the three Cubans for disturbing the peace (Warren Commission Report, 728; Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 47).
40. Warren Commission Report, 407-8. A full transcript of the debate is reproduced in the Warren Commission Hearings volumes as Stuckey Exhibit No. 3 (Warren Commission Hearings Vol. XXI, 633-41). It is available on-line at A. J. Weberman's Web site.
41. Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 34.
42. La Fontaine, 7. See endnote 9.
43. See endnote 10.
44. La Fontaine, 153.
45. FBI from SSCIA 157-10007-10104; NARA 124-10236-10075; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12.
46. "None of the New Orleans individuals associated in [the Bringuier-Oswald incidents] had any involvement in the paramilitary activities of DRE. The New Orleans chapter engaged solely in propaganda and fundraising activities" (House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 86-7). See also Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 34-6.
47. House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 86-7. Moreover, the DRE did not conduct its fund-raising in a covert manner (Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 36, 75-6, 82). The La Fontaines, however, state that the "gun-happy directorate, which, though supposedly a propaganda group, had stockpiled the Pontchartrain arms cache . . ." (La Fontaine, 310). The La Fontaines, two "serious journalists" (as the dust jacket to their book states) are simply drawing conclusions out of thin air. The DRE is well established to have been a paramilitary organization, and made no secret of it in 1963 (House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 286-323). Carlos Bringuier, however, played no part in these activities, which were run out of Miami (see endnotes 49 and 131); his role was indeed limited to propaganda and fund-raising (House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 86-7).
48. Benton purchased the 2500 pounds of dynamite seized at the McLaney home from Richard Lauchli (FBI Miami MM 105-1742; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12). Both men were arrested in connection with the cache, though no charges were filed. "The Kennedys got us off," says McLaney aide Steve Reynolds. "They were aware of the operation from the start" (Russo, 184, see 67-71). William McLaney adds, "My brother and I both met Robert Kennedy many times. We did favors for him, and sometimes he'd return them" (Ibid.). This is consistent with McLaney's more guarded Congressional testimony of 1978 (Ibid.). Victor Espinosa Hernandez, a lifelong friend of Rolando Cubela Secades (AM/LASH), was reportedly in close contact with Robert Kennedy (Ibid.). According to Gerry Patrick Hemming, McLaney associate Sam Benton "had cooperated with Robert Kennedy on a stolen securities investigation" (Ibid., 184-5, see 69). Richard Lauchli supplied arms to Dr. Paulino Sierra's provisional Cuban government, and Sierra was close to Robert Kennedy (Ibid., 185).
49. FBI from SSCIA 157-10007-10104; NARA 124-10236-10075; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12. The cache was seized at the vacation home of William Julius McLaney. Neither he nor Mike McLaney was arrested in connection with the cache, and it has never been established that either man helped finance it. It's known, however, that Mike McLaney was indeed financing anti-Castro air strikes of just this sort -- a planned bombing of the Shell Oil Refinery in Havana -- in the hopes of regaining the profitable gambling concessions he'd enjoyed at the Hotel Nacional in Havana during Batista's reign, and had lost when Castro nationalized the casinos. Six weeks prior to the raid, McLaney associates Benton, Lauchli, and Carlos Victor Espinosa Hernandez had been arrested in Miami while planning an identical mission slated for mid June. Espinosa had reportedly been trying to hire an exile to fly the mission, and Richard Lauchli was on-hand with a station wagon full of munitions to sell. Benton claimed he "was acting in a consultant capacity" and was there to photograph the raid for the news media (Ibid.).
Benton had once worked with McLaney at the Hotel Nacional (Gus Russo, Live by the Sword, 69), and is described by Peter Dale Scott as "a longtime resident of Cuba under Batista and a major figure in the sophisticated placement of fraudulent securities at mob-controlled banks, banks which once channeled casino profits from Cuba. According to Senate hearings, Benton operated in these placements with Mike McLaney, a former casino operator in Havana and a personal friend of J. Edgar Hoover" (Scott, Crime and Cover-Up, 17). Benton was accused of selling fraudulent securities in the late 1960s, and was indicted in 1971 for the sale and transportation of stolen securities (Ibid. See also A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12). Benton pleaded guilty to income tax fraud in August 1974 (A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12). Scott also links Benton in a rather vague way, through the Ansan Corporation, to Laureano Batista (no relation to the former dictator), who was involved with the Christian Democratic Movement (MDC) training camp at Lacombe (Scott, Crime and Cover-Up, 17). To a certain extent, however, Scott may be conflating the 1963 MDC camp with earlier MDC operations involving Frank Sturgis (mentioned by Scott), who had no connection to the 1963 training camp, but was involved with a similar camp established in the summer of 1962, and is described by Scott as having been involved with Laureano Batista in a 1961 operation (Scott. "From Dallas to Watergate," reprinted in Peter Dale Scott, Paul L. Hoch, Russell Stetler, eds., The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond, 373). Laureano Batista's operation, however, was based in Miami (Milton Brener, The Garrison Case, 69).
Clearly all these people were moving in some of the same circles, but alliances shifted rapidly and none should be taken for granted. One of the organizers of the 1963 MDC camp, Victor Paneque Batista, "was Laureano Batista's personal assistant and allegedly his nephew" (Scott, Crime and Cover-Up, 18) Paneque was arrested in connection with the McLaney cache, but his role in that operation -- if he had one -- is unknown. It might be solely because of Paneque's arrest that the Benton-McLaney-Espinosa operation is sometimes called an MDC-DRE collaboration, which may or may not be accurate. According to the FBI, it was strictly a DRE operation; see endnote 10.
The Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, better known as the Schweiker-Hart Committee, seems to have been as confused as anyone else with regard to the Lake Pontchartrain goings-on. Book V of their 1975 Final Report states, "The group of Cubans connected with the Guatemalan Lumbar Co. project is identified as the same group arrested when the FBI raided and seized dynamite on property in Lacombe, La. It should be noted that the FBI raid occurred on July 31, 1963, at property owned by William J. McLaney, whereas the Guatemalan Lumber Co. trainees were on property owned, according to Frank DeLaBarre, by a friend of his. Although DeLaBarre did not mention the name of the owner, the FBI report from Miami, Bufile No.2-1821, sec. 33, lists the names of the Cubans arrested on McLaney property; Victor Paneque was not among them" (Book V, 12, cited in House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 75).
When questioned by Jim Garrison in 1967, Carlos Bringuier stated he knew of no connection between the training camp and the arms cache. When Garrison angrily suggested that perhaps Bringuier had been fooled by his fellow exiles, Bringuier responded, "Maybe I have been fooled and maybe you have been fooled. We will have to see which one of us is the fool" (Brener, 76).
50. La Fontaine, 154.
51. La Fontaine, 183.
52. La Fontaine, 183. Here the La Fontaines are practicing a brand of scholarly methodology they apply often, and has been most famously applied to the John F. Kennedy assassination by that "courageous crusader" (Ibid., 145. See endnote 8) for truth, Jim Garrison, who tried to build a career out of charging people for crimes and seeing if they could prove their innocence.
See the La Fontaines' treatment of Silvia Odio, (Ibid., 237-80) and James Hosty (Ibid., 181-2, 232-5, 306-8, 355, 390-1), to name two prominent examples. Click here and here for researcher Steve Bochan's two-part analysis of their Odio theory, or access them both from this page. Click here for a brief article of my own, supplementing Bochan's research. Click here for Bochan's November 21, 1996, interview with James Hosty.
The most obvious example of Garrison's behavior, of course, is his prosecution of New Orleans businessman Clay L. Shaw for allegedly conspiring to assassinate John F. Kennedy, based upon evidence Garrison knew to be fabricated. Please click here for a full discussion of Garrison's case against Shaw. Click here to see how Garrison actually perjured himself before the Orleans Parish Grand Jury with regard to his case. Click here to see how he later altered his records to cover his tracks. Click here to see how the La Fontaines' "courageous crusader" falsified his entire case for his 1988 memoirs. For other examples of Garrison in action, check out John McAdams' Web page on the man the La Fontaines call "an American original" (La Fontaine, 342).
53. Warren Commission Hearings Vols. X, 35-6, 76-7, 82-5.
54. Warren Commission Hearings Vols. X, 36, 75, 82. When Oswald returned the following day, he also spoke to Bringuier's brother-in-law, Rolando Palaez (Ibid., Vol. X, 36), who was not questioned by the Warren Commission.
55. "The committee deposed Carlos Bringuier and interviewed or deposed several of his associates. It concluded that there had been no relationship between Oswald and Bringuier and the DRE with the exception of the confrontation over Oswald's distribution of pro-Castro literature" (House Select Committee on Assassinations Final Report, 145).
The La Fontaines observe that Oswald appears to have written about his street scuffle with Bringuier and friends before it actually occurred. This could be evidence of collaboration between the parties involved, or it could be evidence that Oswald himself set Bringuier and the exiles up; see endnote 83.
56. Carlos Quiroga told the FBI that he was acquainted with Bringuier and had been aware of the Oswald-Bringuier incident of August 9, 1963. "Approximately a week later, August 16, 1963, he was seated in Thompson's Restaurant," when an International Trade Mart employee showed him one of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee handbills that a young man -- Oswald, of course -- was passing out in front of the Trade Mart. Quiroga proceeded to the Trade Mart, but Oswald had left. Quiroga then (with Carlos Bringuier's approval) "drove to the address listed on the handbill," and spoke to Oswald for about an hour, pretending to be sympathetic to his views. Following this conversation, Quiroga contacted Lt. Martello of the New Orleans Police Department and "offered to infiltrate the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, but he received no encouragement from him, and so took no further action" (FBI Report of November 27, 1963, 62-109060-466,5263,5218, 105-82555-5263A, LHM 2.21.67; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12).
Milton Brener writes:
Carlos Quiroga was contacted intermittently for various reasons by DA investigators following his questioning in the early part of 1967. His next contact of consequence with the DA's office began in mid-April and lasted approximately six weeks.
Quiroga is an intense, fiery, short-tempered individual. His eyes still bristle when he speaks of his escapade with Garrison's office. As he tells his story, the words flow quickly and the anger is obviously deep.
On April 14th he was contacted by a DA investigator. The subject discussed was one of Garrison's favorites, another request for a lie detector test. Quiroga agreed. He already had experience with the DA's Office, however, and spoke first to an attorney. The attorney was loath to advise consenting to the test, but pointed out certain dangers that might be faced from the indictment-happy DA upon refusal. He urged caution. Quiroga finally agreed to the test, but requested by letter that he be given copies of the questions to be asked. He was informed that this would be done.
Quiroga . . . was accompanied to the office [of the polygraph operator] by his wife. The operator informed Quiroga that he could not be allowed to see the questions prior to taking the test [contrary to accepted procedure in polygraph examinations], but Quiroga refused to submit to the polygraph unless he were shown the questions, as agreed. The irritated operator called Garrison and was told to inform Quiroga to take the test at once or that he would be arrested immediately.
Faced with this threat, Quiroga agreed and was then given a routine statement to sign to the effect that the test was taken voluntarily. This he refused to do. A heated argument ensued and the operator informed Quiroga that he would not be given the test and would face arrest unless this statement was signed. Quiroga's wife began crying and the harassed Cuban finally signed the statement and submitted to the test. [Note: No reputable polygraph operator would conduct a polygraph examination under these conditions. -- DR] The following day he made a complaint to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, neither the first nor the last complaint to be made to that Bureau by witnesses in the Garrison probe.
On May 10th Quiroga was subpoenaed to appear before the Grand Jury. Upon arrival at the building, however, he was confronted by an assistant district attorney who bluntly informed him, "You failed the lie detector test." [Small wonder. -- DR] He was also told that he must get a lawyer, for unless he changed his testimony, Garrison said, he would be indicted. Quiroga again consulted with an attorney.
Shortly thereafter, he was again subpoenaed before the Grand Jury, this time for May 24th. Prior to going into the Grand Jury room, he was warned again that unless he testified "truthfully," contrary to previous statements he had given, he would be indicted as an accessory after the fact to the murder of Kennedy, and for perjury. Inside the Grand Jury room Quiroga attempted to take the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions. He was heatedly told by Garrison, and by one of his assistants, that he could not, under the circumstances, claim the Fifth Amendment and that he must testify or he would be held in contempt. [Note: Attorneys were not permitted to accompany their clients inside the Orleans Parish Grand Jury room, at least not while Jim Garrison was DA (Brener, 11, 21, 41) -- DR]
After repeated threats, he began to answer questions. Garrison and his assistant wanted brief yes or no answers. But Quiroga does not answer briefly. As they do from many Garrison witnesses, the words flow freely from Quiroga. The argument erupted anew. Garrison finally shouted at him uncontrollably to get out of the Grand Jury room. Quiroga left.
He was subsequently told through his attorney that if he "keeps his mouth shut," he will be let alone (Brener, 187-8).
Garrison was never able to pin anything on Quiroga, though not for lack of trying. Two of his most notoriously unreliable witnesses -- and Garrison had many such witnesses -- Jack Martin and David Lewis, tried several times to implicate Quiroga in the assassination. Quiroga demanded to be allowed to confront Martin, who immediately betrayed his lack of reliability when Quiroga began quizzing him about dates that some of Martin's allegations were supposed to have occurred. David Lewis was discredited when he claimed that Quiroga had tried to shoot him; a failed polygraph test prompted the confession that Lewis had made the story up for Garrison's benefit (Brener, 75-6).
On one occasion, Garrison "called in Quiroga and left him alone in a room, and the Garrison team brought in a rifle with a telescopic sight and left it in the room for an hour or two. They wanted to see if Quiroga was stupid enough to touch it . . . You cannot imagine what they were willing to do to succeed in their case" (Gerald Posner, Case Closed, 436, citing his personal interview with Carlos Bringuier, March 16, 1992).
57. La Fontaine, 183.
58. La Fontaine, 162. The La Fontaines name Carlos Bringuier as the source of this information, but no specific citation is provided. Bringuier's Warren Commission testimony would not seem to be the source.
59. La Fontaine, 162. The La Fontaines quote Mrs. Garner as saying the stack was "about 5 inches or 6 inches." The words are not those of Mrs. Garner, but of Warren Commission counsel Wesley Liebeler, who was estimating, based on a hand gesture from Mrs. Garner. The La Fontaines' uncited source for the statement is Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 269. Quiroga is not named in Mrs. Garner's deposition (or for that matter, anywhere in the Warren Commission Report or Hearings volumes), but it is clear from the context that it is Quiroga. Assuming Mrs. Garner's memory is reliable, it's likely that Quiroga had picked up a stack of leaflets left behind at the Trade Mart by Oswald.
Mrs. Garner also placed the date of Quiroga's visit a week earlier than Quiroga and Bringuier did, something that, to most investigators, would weaken her credibility, not boost it, as the La Fontaines would have us believe (La Fontaine, 162). Garner is the rock-solid witness who, when asked by the Warren Commission about visitors to Oswald's apartment, didn't mention anything about "unforgettable" (La Fontaine, 184) Garrison assassination suspect David Ferrie (Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 268-9), but mentioned at the 1969 trial of Clay Shaw -- two years after Garrison had made Ferrie famous -- that David Ferrie had visited her home "the same night" President Kennedy was killed "or the following night" (Shaw trial transcript, February 26, 1969,  11). Mrs. Garner said she had briefly mistaken the notoriously slovenly and strange-looking Ferrie (who tended to dress, according to Jim Garrison, "as if he had been shot by cannon through a Salvation Army clothing store" [Garrison, 6]) for an agent of the US Secret Service (Shaw trial transcript, Ibid.). Almost a decade later, in 1978, she told the House Select Committee that Ferrie had stopped by the night following the assassination and had asked specifically about a library card, something she had never mentioned before (House Select Committee Hearings X, 113). By 6:00 PM the night of the assassination, David Ferrie had left New Orleans for a friend's house in Metairie, as the House committee conceded (Ibid., 122 fn. 208); Ferrie was out of town the entire weekend (Ibid., 112-3).
60. La Fontaine, 162.
61. David Blackburst, Newsgroup post of June 23, 1999. See Warren Commission Report, 292, 407, 728; Lee Exhibits No. 2, 4 (Warren Commission Hearings Vol. XX, 512, 518); Warren Commission Exhibit No. 1410 (Warren Commission Hearings Vol. XXII, 796-9), 1411 (Warren Commission Hearings Vol. XXII, 800-2); Warren Commission Exhibit No. 2542, 2543, 2544, 2545 (Warren Commission Hearings Vol. XXV, 769-71).
62. A CIA report states that Quiroga reportedly "was an ardent Castro supporter and made anti-US statements." Another document states: "On the basis of the foregoing, the possibility is suggested that Quiroga may be, or may have been, a penetration of the Cuban Revolutionary Front on behalf of Cuban intelligence." The CIA Office of Security Indices Results: "Subject's security file contains FBI reports on internal security investigation on Subject in 1960. Allegations that he was a plant by Castro in anti-Castro groups in US were explored. (Deleted) Subject's file reflects that he was covertly investigated in 1964. (Deleted)" . . . Carlos Quiroga stated during a telephone interview with A. J. Weberman: "All this is false. I could not be [a Castro supporter] -- my father was in prison [for fighting] against Castro. In 1961, before Batista was overthrown, I was not really pro-Castro, I was against Batista. I never was a Castro agent" (A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12).
63. Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 35. Even the La Fontaines themselves do not suggest that Bringuier was dissembling on this point (La Fontaine, 162).
64. La Fontaine, 6. Bringuier had been warned by FBI agent Warren de Brueys that the Bureau could infiltrate his organization "and find out what you are doing here" (Ibid., 34-5). When Oswald made his appearance, talking about training exiles in guerrilla warfare, Bringuier seems to have assumed he was talking in particular about the MDC camp (Ibid., 43). He wondered how Oswald could have known about a secret training camp, one that he himself had only just found out about (Ibid.). Thus, he initially suspected that Oswald might be working for the Bureau (Ibid.).
However, Bringuier did make it clear to the FBI that he "knew of no connection that OSWALD had with any Cubans, and that OSWALD made no mention of any Cuban training camp, and gave no indication of knowing about a training camp, or of being acquainted with any Cubans" (FBI NO 100-16601, December 17, 1963, SA John T. Reynolds; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 10). By the time of his Warren Commission deposition, he was convinced that Oswald must have been working for Castro (Warren Commission Report, 728; Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 47).
Producing a September 4, 1963, newspaper, he told Liebeler about Fernando Fernandez, the Castro spy who had been caught trying to infiltrate the MDC training camp. He found this highly significant, explaining, "in New Orleans we are about 900 miles from Miami. In Miami is where the headquarters of all the anti-Castro groups. I could not find any reason for Oswald to come to me and offer me his service to train Cubans in guerrilla warfare . . . because, if he was willing to infiltrate one active organization, he will go directly to Miami and he will offer his service over there in Miami, but not in New Orleans where it is not publicly known that there was something going on at that moment" (Ibid., 43).
The capture of Fernandez -- a genuine Castro spy -- only weeks after Oswald's visit -- seemed to reaffirm his belief (Ibid., 43).
Peter Dale Scott writes, "Bringuier's logic here is of major importance. Oswald had to be working for one side or the other; he could not have been acting alone" (Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 251). Scott may well be correct, but since Oswald did not explicitly reveal knowledge of a secret training camp, Bringuier might have been leaping to conclusions. It has also been suggested that Oswald was simply feeding Bringuier a line, so that later his appearance as a pro-Castro demonstrator would provoke the anti-Castro activist into an incident that would garner Oswald a headline or two. The press coverage of his street scuffle with Bringuier allowed him to inflate his "résumé" when he appeared a couple months later in Mexico City, trying to claim the privilege of a visa to Cuba because of his ostensibly documented loyalty to Castro's revolution (Warren Commission Report, 288).
65. La Fontaine, 41. In 1967, when Jim Garrison related for Bringuier his theory that anti-Castro Cubans were behind the assassination, Bringuier replied, "You are the District Attorney and you should know, but I think that is stupid" (Brener, 76).
Bringuier has lost little of his fire over the years. In 1993, A. J. Weberman pressed Bringuier on the subject of a possible Oswald-Bringuier collaboration, and Bringuier told him, "I believe that you have a preconceived idea. Then there would be no possible way for me to change your idea. Most of the people who have those preconceived ideas are communists" (A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 10).
66. Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins, 1991 ed., 26-9, 33-5, 42-9, 67-9, 71, 216, 326. Garrison claimed that Banister "had begun his career in World War II" with the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) (Garrison, 29), and William Turner also claimed that Banister had been with the ONI (William W. Turner, "The Garrison Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy," Ramparts, January 1968; see endnote 178). Banister, born in 1901, had actually begun his career in the position of investigator for the Monroe, Louisiana Police Department, then became a patrolman in December 1929. After a series of promotions, he was hired by the Justice Department's Division of Investigation in November 1934. The Division of Investigation soon changed its name to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for which Banister was employed for the next two solid decades; he worked for the FBI, not the US armed forces, through World War II (House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 483; FBI 62-103863-13; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11, 8.) It is not known where the ONI rumor originated. Anthony Summers attributes it to unspecified members of Banister's family (Summers, Conspiracy, 1989 Paragon ed., 290, 590-1), while William Turner writes, "A man who knew Banister well has told Garrison that Banister became associated with the Office of Naval Intelligence through the recommendation of Guy Johnson, an ONI reserve officer and the first attorney for Clay Shaw when he was arrested by Garrison" (Turner, "The Garrison Commission . . .", Ibid.); Garrison knew Guy Johnson very well and mentions him in his memoirs (Garrison, 29 fn.), but does not attribute the Banister-ONI information to him or name Johnson in relation to it at all; Garrison cites no source for the claim (Garrison, 29). Banister died of a heart attack in 1964.
Turner's full Ramparts article used to be posted on-line, but currently there only seems to be a zipped file of three out of four sections. The fourth part is the least significant, however, dealing primarily with the slaying of J. D. Tippit and theories about Jack Ruby.
67. La Fontaine, 149.
68. La Fontaine, 182.
69. La Fontaine, 182.
70. La Fontaine, 182.
71. La Fontaine, 182.
72. La Fontaine, 35.
73. La Fontaine, 181.
74. La Fontaine, 182-3. This raises a few questions itself. First of all, Guy Banister had spent a solid two decades with the FBI, most of those years as a Special Agent in Charge, and had spent several more years as a member of the New Orleans Police Department (House Select Committee on Assassinations, Hearings, Vol. XIII, 483). Not only was he a fanatical right-winger, a militant white supremacist, and a staunch anti-Communist, but he was also known for a quick temper and a nasty violent streak (Patricia Lambert, False Witness, 277). The La Fontaines take it for granted that Lee Oswald could put one over on this law enforcement veteran, similar to their speculation that Oswald would just as easily infiltrate a sensitive gunrunning operation in Dallas a few months later (La Fontaine, 39-42, 356-60). Also, according to the La Fontaines, Banister himself was still working for the FBI (Ibid., 181-2, 352, 369, 391) -- and there actually appears to be some corroboration for that (see Gus Russo, Live by the Sword, 196, 334). Be warned, however, that in this area, Russo is uncharacteristically skimpy with his source citations. Either way, it's not clear why the La Fontaines would refer to Banister at one point as a "contact between Oswald and the FBI" (La Fontaine, 166-7).
75. The La Fontaines refer to something they call "the Banister/DRE lair" (Ibid., 183). This is a place where such events as "a mammoth Banister/Bringuier brainstorm" (Ibid., 179) can be theorized to determine the course of Western civilization, even when there is no evidence that Carlos Bringuier ever associated with Guy Banister.
76. La Fontaine, 182.
77. La Fontaine, 182.
78. La Fontaine, 147.
79. La Fontaine, 147.
80. La Fontaine, 147.
81. La Fontaine, 147.
82. La Fontaine, 148.
83. La Fontaine, 147. During the summer of 1963, Oswald wrote a letter to Vincent T. Lee, head of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) in New York, asking for some literature and advice, and added that he was considering renting an office. The New York office sent literature, but advised him that renting an office in a city like New Orleans, teeming with Cuban exiles, wasn't such a good idea (Warren Commission Report, 291, 407-8; Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 90-3).
On August 1st, Oswald wrote again to V. T. Lee in New York. In this letter, postmarked August 4, 1963, he wrote: "In regards to my efforts to start a branch of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans . . . I rented an office as planned and was promptly closed 3 days later for some obsure [sic] reasons by the renters, they said something about remodeling, ect. [sic] I'm sure you understand after that I worked out of a post office box and by useing [sic] street demonstrations and some circular work have substained [sic] a great deal of interest but no new members. Through the efforts of some cuban-exial [sic] 'gusanos' a street demonstration [of Oswald's] was attacked and we were oficialy [sic] cautioned by the police" (Warren Commission Report, 407-8; Lee Exhibits No. 5, No. 9 [Warren Commission Hearings Vol. XX, 524, 533]).
The FBI and the Warren Commission considered the possibility that Oswald might have indeed briefly rented such an office. The FBI established that Oswald had not, in fact, rented an office at 544 Camp Street, and left it at that (Warren Commission Report, 292, 407-8, Warren Commission Exhibit No. 1414 [Warren Commission Hearings Vol. XXII, 828-30]).
84. Worthy of note is that the Canal Street confrontation with Bringuier and friends did not occur until August 9, 1963 -- five days after his August 1 letter to V. T. Lee was postmarked -- and Oswald is not known to have had a previous skirmish with any Cubans (Warren Commission Report, 408). While the Warren Commission dismissed the contents of the August 1 letter, it suggests to many of us that Oswald had planned the Bringuier provocation well in advance. His calm, strangely upbeat demeanor throughout the incident seems to affirm this.
If Oswald had indeed been expecting Bringuier to intervene in his leafletting that day, and if his intention had been to provoke Bringuier into creating a scene like the one described in his letter of August 1st, it could conceivably explain the puzzling "544 CAMP ST" stamp. That would depend, however, upon whether or not Lee Harvey Oswald knew that only a year and a half before, Carlos Bringuier himself had worked out of the CRC office at 544 Camp Street.
Bringuier testified to the Warren Commission that he had served as Secretary of Publicity and Propaganda for the New Orleans delegation of the Cuban Revolutionary Council. He recalled joining the organization around the beginning of 1962, and leaving in June or July of that year to serve as the New Orleans delegate of the Cuban Student Directorate (Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. X, 34).
He might have joined the group slightly earlier. Orest Pena knew Bringuier fairly well, and he recalled working with Bringuier and Sergio Arcacha Smith out of the Balter Building, where the CRC had been before the move to Camp Street. If Pena was correct, it would mean that Bringuier was working for the CRC by no later than October 1961 (Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. XI, 347-8, 357-8).
Either way, however, we know that Bringuier was with the group when Sergio Arcacha Smith was dismissed on January 20, 1962, and Luis Ravel took over as the council's New Orleans delegate. 544 Camp Street would be Secretary of Publicity and Propaganda Bringuier's work address for at the very least a few weeks, before the group vacated the office in mid-February, and began operating out of Ravel's home (Warren Commission Exhibit No. 1414 [Warren Commission Hearings Vol. XXII, 828-30]).
If indeed Oswald was hoping that the use of the fiercely anti-Castro Bringuier's onetime work address on his pro-Castro leaflets would cause Bringuier to especially -- pardon the expression -- see red, he must have been slightly disappointed, however. Bringuier never noticed (Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 41).
La Fontaine, 149-50, 181. In On the Trail of the Assassins, Jim Garrison states that had the Secret Service questioned Delphine Roberts in 1963, "she might have told them what she later admitted to others: that Banister had been engaged in closed-door meetings with Lee Oswald and that he had arranged for a third-floor room for Oswald's use" (Garrison, 48 fn.). True, Roberts might have told them that; but she didn't tell Garrison's office anything whatsoever about Oswald when she was questioned in 1967 (NODA interview of Delphine Roberts, January 19, 1967).
85. NODA interview of Delphine Roberts, January 19, 1967.
86. House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 129; Anthony Summers, Conspiracy, 1989 Paragon ed., 294.
87. NARA 180-10075-10292; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11.
88. NARA 180-10075-10292; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11.
89. NARA 180-10075-10292; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11.
90. NARA 180-10075-10292; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11.
91. House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 129; Summers, 295.
92. House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 124, 128.
93. House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 124-5.
94. House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 124-5. Other offices located there at that time were those of the Hotel, Motel, and Restaurant Workers' Union; and the Amalgamated Association of Street Electric Railway and Motor Coach Employees of America.
95. Anthony Summers, Conspiracy, 1989 Paragon ed., 295. Banister associates such as Joe Newbrough, Vernon Gerdes, Mary Brengel, Ivan "Bill" Nitschke, and Joseph Oster all told the House committee that they had never seen Lee Harvey Oswald at the Newman Building, and did not know of any connection Oswald might have had to Guy Banister (House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 128). Jack Mancuso, owner of Mancuso's restaurant, "recalled that Guy Banister and his associates Jack Martin and David Ferrie were 'steady' customers, but Mancuso could not personally recall ever having seen Oswald" (Ibid., 135). (One 544 Camp witness did once encounter Oswald; see endnote 121.)
That's not to say that others did not report the random Oswald sighting here and there. In late 1966, Banister investigator Jack S. Martin told Jim Garrison that he saw Oswald in Banister's office "two or three times," in the company of David Ferrie. Garrison kept Martin around, but confided in Life Magazine's Richard Billings, who was working closely with the investigation, that Martin was "an undependable drunk and a totally unreliable witness" (Billings, Contemporaneous notes, December 1966-January 1967 [p. 2]), and "a liar who hates Ferrie" (Billings, 4). Later, Martin's story would grow dramatically, and would be "corroborated" by Martin's friend and future roommate David F. Lewis, who also briefly claimed he had been shot at by Cuban exile Carlos Quiroga -- until a failed polygraph elicited the confession that Lewis had made the story up for Garrison's benefit (Billings, 6). Neither Martin nor Lewis mentioned to anyone having seen or known Oswald prior to the start of Garrison's investigation. This is especially strange in view of Martin's amply documented attempts of November 1963 to link Ferrie to President Kennedy's accused assassin through a series of increasingly wild claims, which he ultimately had to admit had no basis in fact. (He blamed them on what he called "telephonitis" resulting from his excessive drinking.) Had Martin ever seen Oswald in Banister's office, one would expect him to have mentioned it during his numerous interviews with the FBI and Secret Service in 1963, or to at least a friend or two.
Onetime Banister employee Tommy Baumler reports that Oswald worked for the ex-G-man that summer (William Davy, Let Justice Be Done, 303 fn. 13). Baumler also asserts that Clay Shaw and Guy Banister had a close relationship, and that "Clay Shaw, Banister and [attorney] Guy Johnson made up the intelligence apparatus in New Orleans" (Ibid., 41). This claim is rather astounding in light of the fact that Jim Garrison himself was a personal friend, onetime law partner and future client of Guy Johnson's (Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins, 1991 ed., 29 fn.; New Orleans Times-Picayune, January 20, 1976; Jerry Shinley, Newsgroup post of May 26, 1999).
Another Banister employee, Daniel Campbell, told Anthony Summers he saw Oswald in Banister's office once, though not in Banister's company. This occurred on August 9, 1963, he says, right after he heard about Oswald's infamous street scuffle with Carlos Bringuier and friends. He said Oswald was using the phone at 531 Lafayette. However, Oswald was in jail at this time, having been arrested for disturbing the peace. Campbell also described Oswald as having a "Marine" crewcut, a hairstyle some four years out-of-date for Oswald (Summers, 293).
A few witnesses outside Banister's immediate circle have alleged some sort of relationship between Oswald and Banister (cf. Michael L. Kurtz, Crime of the Century, 1993 ed., xxxviii-xl). While the evidence is hardly overwhelming, the possibility that the two men knew each other cannot be completely ruled out.
96. House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 129; Summers, 314.
97. House Select Committee Hearings Vol. II, 253; Summers, 314.
98. The committee seems to have had a heavy bias against suspects who could be linked to organized crime; see for example Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation, 255-6, 260; or House committee Chief Counsel G. Robert Blakey's own book (co-authored with Richard N. Billings) Fatal Hour: The Assassination of President Kennedy by Organized Crime.
99. House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 110,
100. House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 123, 129.
101. G. Robert Blakey and Richard N. Billings, Fatal Hour, 190.
102. Gerald Posner, Case Closed, 140. The La Fontaines scold Gerald Posner for calling Delphine Roberts, Jr., a "big fat lady," when Posner is actually quoting Anthony Summers, one of the La Fontaines' own frequently cited sources (Posner, 141 fn.). Though I do not always agree with Posner's interpretations of the evidence in the JFK assassination case, Posner has written a decent article on new findings from Jim Garrison's files.
103. Gerald Posner, Case Closed, 140.
104. Testimony of Marina Oswald Porter, Clay Shaw trial transcript, February 21, 1969, (2031) 17-9. Roberts told Anthony Summers that David Ferrie took Oswald "on at least one visit to an anti-Castro guerrilla training camp outside New Orleans," "to train with rifles" (Summers, 304). This is a bit of Garrison folklore that has been debunked (see endnote 139). She also indicated that Oswald had been in Mexico City more than once (Summers, 344), which is extremely unlikely (Testimony of Marina Oswald Porter, Clay Shaw trial transcript, February 21, 1969,  17-9). Garrison advocate William Davy has attempted to buttress Delphine Roberts' story with a statement from Banister associate Bill Nitschke, who claimed to have seen "crudely lettered placards that he believed had something to do with Castro" (William Davy, Let Justice Be Done, 39-40). According to Davy, Nitschke associates these placards with "Banister's office" and/or "the second floor anterooms" (Davy's not especially clear on this point) which Davy does not acknowledge to have been inaccessible from Banister's office (Davy, 37-9). If the placards were anti-Castro -- Nitschke doesn't specify -- his story would jibe with what we already know about Banister.
105. Posner, 141.
106. Posner, 141.
107. Posner, 140.
108. Posner, 140.
109. Posner, 140. A. J. Weberman writes:
Delphine Roberts told the HSCA: "Her family goes back to Jeb Stuart on her mother's side, and because of this blood line, she is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the Confederacy . . . Delphine Roberts became concerned about our Country when President Roosevelt and his Negro wife, Eleanor, got the US into the United Nations, which has its charter based on the Communist Manifesto. . . ." In the early 1960's Delphine was active in anti-Communist activities and became involved in the anti-integration movement. She was written about in the national news and in Pravda for some of her demonstrations." On March 4, 1961 Delphine Roberts participated in a demonstration at William Franz School during which she carried a sign, "The Lord commanded 'That the tribes not be mingled.'" On January 27, 1962, Delphine Roberts ran for Councilman-at-Large, as a Conservative Independent Democrat for the Mayoralty Primary Election. In her platform the following statements were made:
- The Subject is a white supremacist and segregationist, and would work toward the preservation of the White race.
- Separation of Church and State.
- Against such organizations as CORE, NAACP, Save Our Schools etc. which have as their goals the integration and mongrelization of the races.
- Against the United Nations, because by association with this organization, the U.S. is giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
- Opposed to the utilization of public building space, rent-free by the League of Women Voters, which Subject considers to be a Communist organization.
- Opposed to the integration of the New Orleans Police Department.
- Opposed to utilization of Federal aid.
- Opposed to integration of public facilities, such as parks, playgrounds, etc.
- Opposed to integration of transportation.
- Opposed to integration of fire department.
- Opposed to Fluoridation.
- Would attempt to promote a city ordinance outlawing communism or any left-wing activities from taking place within the city limits of New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Opposed to urban renewal.
- Condemned the Diary of Ann Frank as being a filthy book, which students should not be permitted to read.
- Separation of sanitary facilities as to White and Colored (A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11).
On April 16, 1962, the New Orleans Times-Picayune contained an article entitled "Catholic Church Picketed by Trio." It stated the Delphine Roberts was one of three women who picketed St. Patrick's Catholic Church during worship hours on Sunday to protest the desegregation of Catholic Schools. The May 26, 1962, issue of the Louisiana Weekly carried an article entitled "Children Used in Hate Picketing." This article stated that on the previous Saturday five young children were utilized in the picketing of the residence of Archbishop Rummel. One of the demonstrators was identified as Delphine Roberts and she carried a sign which read, "Caroline Kennedy is segregated -- excommunicate her father." On September 4, 1962, Delphine Roberts was observed in a picket demonstration protesting the integration of St. Rose of Lime School. Delphine Roberts stated: "She joined the New Orleans White Citizen's Council and attended some PTA meetings trying to prove the integration of our schools was a communist plot to destroy our Country. She knew Leander Perez of Plaquemines Parish and was later excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church with him . . . She worked with an investigator from the Louisiana Sovereignty Commission on several New Orleans groups that were anti-American. . . . Sometime in early 1961 or 1962 Delphine Roberts decided that the American flag was not receiving the respect that it should in the city and she decided to put up a booth on Canal Street to promote the flag. The booth had a loud speaker system and American flags and Confederate flags all around it and she and her mother Amelia manned it . . . She would play march songs and talk about the flag and the UN. The merchants on Canal Street, who are all Jews, made a complaint about her booth and the police came to arrest her. That was the first time that she met Guy Banister. He came into the booth with her and her mother wearing a suit, a hat and a gun. He told the police that they would have to arrest him too. The police never arrested anyone but did ask that they set a date to leave. A date was set and they left. She and Banister became friends after that, and she worked with him as a volunteer, because he was working for what she believed in. She did secretarial work such as typing correspondence, making files, clipping newspapers etc. She knew his system, and remembers he had one of the largest and most complete files of communists and fellow travelers . . ." (NARA 180-10075-10292; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11).
In an interview on July 6, 1978, Delphine Roberts told HSCA Investigator Robert Buras that she "remembers that Guy Banister positively had a file on OSWALD, but it was kept out of the regular files because he never got assigning a number to it. She does not remember what was in it other than general information such as paper clippings. Delphine remembers Guy Banister getting very loud with both James Arthus and Sam Newman because they allowed OSWALD to use the address 544 Camp Street. As she remembers, Jim Arthus did not have an office, but a room that was like his apartment. Banister was always getting mad at Arthus because he talked too much about their business in the office. Delphine would not, or could not, elaborate on the exact content of the talk that she heard between Newman, Arthus and Banister. She did not give an opinion on whether OSWALD might have been working for Banister. The closest she could remember Banister's words to the men about OSWALD was 'How is it going to look for him to have the same address as me?' She did not form an opinion on what this meant. Delphine stated she never saw OSWALD in person. She states she did she Fidel Castro and his top aide Che Guevara walking on Canal Street when she had her flag booth . . . Roberts stated that she had not been active in anything for the past ten years or more. Her daughter had a bad accident and she spends her time taking care of her and the house" (Ibid.).
On August 27, 1978, Delphine Roberts was re-interviewed by HSCA Investigator Robert Buras. She said she "believes that LEE OSWALD came into the office to be interviewed for a job, but doesn't remember anything specific, because so many people came in for interviews. At a later date Banister introduced Marina and OSWALD to her in his office, but they walked right out and she did not talk to them. She could not recall hearing Marina speak, or how they were dressed. On several occasions LEE OSWALD would come in and go into Banister's office and she could not hear any conversation from that room. She believed that OSWALD was either working, or attempting to work, for Banister. She does remember hearing Guy Banister holler at Jim Arthus and Sam Newman about letting OSWALD the second floor room and about keeping the Fair Play for Cuba Committee literature from his office. Arthus used to come into the office and put leaflets on Banister's leaflet table as a joke because all the other literature was anti-communist" (Ibid.).
110. NARA 180-10075-10292; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11.
111. La Fontaine, 149. For "all its apparent implausibility," the La Fontaines write, "the Oswald-Banister connection has been a matter of record for more than three decades. It is documented twice, as we've seen, and in both directions: Banister had Oswald's papers in his files, and Oswald had Banister's address on his pamphlets" (La Fontaine, 149). More accurately, the "Oswald-Banister connections" has been a matter of speculation for more than three decades, as it remains today. Banister indeed is said to have had some of Oswald's FPCC handouts in his files, just as Banister made it his business to keep track of all leftists in New Orleans -- Delphine Roberts told the House committee that Oswald's "papers" were part of "an extensive file on Communists and fellow travelers" (House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 129); "Roberts did not remember what was in the file other than that it contained general information on Oswald such as newspaper clippings." (Ibid.).
112. "Buff" is a derogatory term for John F. Kennedy assassination researcher or conspiracy theorist. Such a term is wielded to keep a particular sector of the community "in its place." Not all agree with me; for example, the term is accepted on the moderated Usenet forum alt.assassination.jfk. One presumes that the La Fontaines use it in the same ironic sense as those individuals in certain racial, religious, and political minorities who have adopted such terms as badges of pride, forged from a label created by proponents of a dominant class to emphasize a minority's otherness.
113. La Fontaine, 148.
114. La Fontaine, 148.
115. La Fontaine, 148.
116. HSCA Exhibit #1, November 6, 1978; HSCA Testimony of Sam Newman (owner of the building at 544 Camp/531 Lafayette); Gus Russo, Live by the Sword,197.
117. Gus Russo, Live by the Sword, 197. To get to Banister's office, Newbrough says, one would have to retrace one's steps, "exit the second floor to the sidewalk" (Ibid.) and "walk around the corner" to 531 Lafayette (Ibid.).
118. Russo, 197.
119. Garrison, 26-31, 35, 40-2, 46-8; Jim Garrison, A Heritage of Stone, 1975 ed., 79-80, 94-101, 140. On the Trail of the Assassins states that 544 Camp Street was "the entrance to Banister's office" (Garrison, 48). On the Trail of the Assassins purports to tell the story of how Garrison "discovered" this alleged relationship between Oswald and Banister (pp. 26-31); Garrison's account is disputed by William Turner (cf. Turner, "The Garrison Commission . . .", Ramparts, January 1968; see endnote 178). Turner also claimed, however, that the 544 Camp Street entrance led to Guy Banister's office, and that he himself discovered this -- a dubious distinction indeed. Whose address was 544 Camp Street? In the summer of 1963, it was briefly the address for the Hotel, Motel, and Restaurant Workers' Union, the Amalgamated Association of Street Electric Railway and Motor Coach Employees of America, and the building's janitor, James Arthus. Banister's office was around the corner at 531 Lafayette, and a restaurant on the ground floor, Mancuso's, had its own separate entrance (House Select Committee on Assassinations, Hearings Vol. X, 124).
120. Warren Commission Report, 292. While Oswald normally stamped either his home address or his post office box number on his handouts, some of the ones confiscated by the NOPD on this occasion had instead been stamped with the address, "544 CAMP ST." It is not known whether or not August 9 was the only occasion Oswald used this address. In 1968, researcher Paul Hoch was informed by the National Archives that ten of twenty copies of Oswald's leaflets seized at the Paine home in Irving following the assassination bore the Camp Street stamp (Anthony Summers, Conspiracy, 1989 Paragon ed., 288, 589 fn.).
The FBI and the Warren Commission considered the possibility that Oswald might have indeed briefly rented such an office. See endnote 83.
121. See endnote 39 for background on Oswald and Bringuier. Bringuier was enraged when he discovered Oswald passing out pro-Castro literature on Canal Street, recognizing him as the wannabe "anti-Castro activist" he'd met a few days before. Though no physical violence resulted, some heated words were uttered, a crowd gathered, and Oswald was arrested along with Bringuier and two other Cubans for disturbing the peace (Warren Commission Report, 728; Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 47). Oswald didn't seem too fazed by the ordeal. "When I saw that was Oswald and he recognized me, he was also surprised, but just for a few seconds," Carlos Bringuier testified. "Immediately he smiled to me and he offered the hand to shake hands with me" (Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 37).
How would Oswald know that Bringuier had worked at 544 Camp? Chances are, he found out from Arnesto Rodriguez, Jr., a member of the Cuban Revolutionary Council whom Oswald had approached "during the last week of July, or early August 1963," with a familiar pitch - that he wanted to train exiles. Rodriguez explained that the CRC no longer had an office there, and directed Oswald to Bringuier (Summers, 289; NARA FBI 124-10049-10182; FBI NO 44-2064-10; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11). (Rodriguez is the one and only witness at 544 Camp - the actual 544 Camp - who met Oswald.)
122. Warren Commission Hearings Vol. X, 61. Asked years later if he thought Oswald and Bringuier might have staged the incident together, Martello dismissed the possibility: "I didn't believe it back then and I don't believe it now -- no way" (Posner, 152 fn., citing his personal interview with Francis Martello, March 16, 1992).
123. La Fontaine, 150.
124. More on the Clinton witnesses can be found here.
The La Fontaines repeat a number of related Garrison factoids in the course of their book. For example, they report that the black Cadillac observed at the CORE voter registration drive was traced to the International Trade Mart (La Fontaine, 184). As demonstrated in this article, no such thing ever happened.
The La Fontaines endorse Garrison's theory that Oswald may have been seeking employment at the State Hospital in Jackson -- a mental hospital -- so that the scheming conspirators could create a myth of Oswald as mental patient with only "a switch of cards" in the hospital's files (Ibid., 186).
The La Fontaines repeat Garrison's claim that Clay Shaw was acquitted at his 1969 trial because the jurors "couldn't find any motivation . . . for the respected trade mart director to have taken part in a conspiracy to assassinate the president" (Ibid., 185). As this brief article shows, nothing could be further from the truth: the jury acquitted because Garrison had no case.
The La Fontaines refer to Clay Shaw as a "paid asset of the CIA" (Ibid., 391), when the HSCA determined that Shaw had never received so much as a single dime from the CIA (HSCA notes on Clay Shaw's CIA file, referring to "2/10/69--TWX #0002 to contacts/Washington, 10/13/67" [Record No. 180-10143-10221, CIA Segregated Collection, Box 19]; Patricia Lambert, False Witness, 325 fn. 14).
The La Fontaines have a great deal of fun with Banister's "lurid" (La Fontaine, 188) "mob-tinged Anglo cohort from hell" (Ibid., 150), David Ferrie -- "that underworld Renaissance man with multicultural talents as gay exotic, mad scientist, contemplative seminarian, fearless pilot, mega patriot, Kennedy hater par excellence, anti-Castro wild man, Mafia employee, and government intelligence operative" (Ibid., 187).
Putting aside the fact that Dave Ferrie was at no time in his life a "government intelligence operative," let's examine one of the other items of information dropped by the La Fontaines: Did Dave Ferrie hate John F. Kennedy?
Gus Russo writes:
David Ferrie has long been portrayed on paper and in film as an American grotesque: a raving hater of President Kennedy, who threatened to kill the President. He was said to be angry at JFK for failing to help the Cuban exiles restore liberty to their land. It seems certain he made a celebrated statement after the Bay of Pigs fiasco on which much of the portrait has been based. That incident occurred in July 1961, when Ferrie was addressing the New Orleans chapter of the Order of World Wars. Ferrie became so critical of Kennedy's handling of the Bay of Pigs invasion that he was asked to discontinue his remarks. But that was almost certainly taken out of context and misinterpreted.
A devout Catholic (who was, for a time, a seminarian), Ferrie voted for Kennedy in 1960 and was "elated" when he defeated Richard Nixon for the presidency that year. "Things are going to turn for the better now that a Catholic has been elected," a good friend would remember Ferrie saying. Another friend elaborated, "After all, he was an Irish Catholic too. He was an enthusiastic supporter [of Kennedy]. Dave was a spokesman for the Kennedys. To him, the idea of a Catholic president was mind-boggling, He thought Kennedy was fabulous" (Russo, Live by the Sword, 144).
An FBI report of an interview with November 27, 1963, Ferrie states that "Ferrie also advised that he has been accused of being a worshiper of President Kennedy because he is a liberal and strongly believes in President Kennedy's Civil Rights Program and Fiscal Program." Layton Martens told the FBI on November 25, 1963, that "he knows Ferrie to be a great admirer of President Kennedy and that he would classify him as a desegregationist."
The idea that Dave Ferrie hated Kennedy originated with Jim Garrison, from whom it was picked up by countless others who never thought to consider the source. Garrison's star witness was Perry Raymond Russo, the one and only friend of David Ferrie's to ever accuse Ferrie of wanting to kill President Kennedy. Please click here for a detailed assessment of Russo's willingness to give false testimony against Garrison suspect Clay Shaw, or click here for a number of other articles and primary sources on Russo.
125. La Fontaine, 182.
126. La Fontaine, 182.
127. La Fontaine, 182.
128. The Movimiento Democrata Cristiano (MDC) or Christian Democratic Movement was one of the many anti-Castro, anti-Communist movements that sprang up in the wake of Castro's 1959 assumption of power. "Proclaiming the doctrine of Christianity as its foundation," the House Select Committee on Assassinations writes, "the MDC published a manifesto in March 1960 denouncing communism and strongly advocating the free enterprise system. One of the founders of the MDC, 35-year-old law professor Dr. Jose Iguacio Rasco, was elected head of the organization and immediately criticized the violence prevalent in the Castro regime. This public criticism produced pressure on him to leave Cuba and he arrived in Miami on April 22, 1960. By June, Rasco had allied himself and the MDC with the Frente Revolucionario Democratico (FRD) and thus became one of the five original exile Cuban leaders brought together by the US Government to the nucleus of a Cuban government-in-exile" (House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 71).
The land used by the MDC was ostensibly the site of the Guatemalan Lumber & Mineral Corporation, a front arranged by Gus DeLaBarre, his nephew and attorney Frank DeLaBarre, and Ricardo Davis. Frank DeLaBarre drew up the articles of incorporation, but reportedly did not know the true nature of the "corporation.") An estimated eighteen exiles briefly trained there, led by Victor Paneque and Angel Vega (Ibid.).
"In the latter part of July 1963," the House Select Committee on Assassinations writes, "the FBI conducted a raid on property near that of the 'lumber company' training camp. The Bureau seized a cache of dynamite and other explosives. This raid, according to Davis, unnerved his trainees, and they elected to return to Miami" (Ibid.).
Frank DeLaBarre gave a slightly different, if less likely version: "Although he suspected that military training was being conducted at the camp, Frank DeLaBarre said he did not pay much attention to the activities of the group. When he heard on his car radio that the FBI had seized a cache of ammunition at a house in Lacombe, however, he immediately called his uncle. Although receiving assurances that the lumber group was not involved, DeLaBarre called the officers of the corporation together and insisted that the Cubans be taken out of there. Davis told him that the Cubans did not want to leave, whereupon DeLaBarre said he had to do some real 'brainstorming.' He rented a Hertz ton-and-a-half truck and instructed Davis to take it to the camp and tell the Cubans 'that the invasion is on.' Davis complied, and the Cubans loaded their gear, jumped in the truck, and were brought to the Greyhound bus terminal in New Orleans. Each was given a one-way ticket to Miami plus a small amount of cash and told they would get their orders when they reached Miami" (Ibid., 72-3).
The plot to bomb the Shell refinery has been called a joint MDC-DRE effort, but the only tangible connection between the MDC camp and the arms cache is the fact that Victor Paneque, one of the three exiles who ran the MDC camp, was among the eleven men taken into custody for questioning. Since no charges were filed, it is not known whether Paneque was involved with the McLaney cache, or whether he was questioned for the same reason the training camp has been linked to the cache -- its propinquity to the McLaney property. (Researchers have long assumed that the CIA kept charges from being filed. It now appears that it was not the CIA at all, but Attorney General Robert Kennedy himself; see endnote 48.)
Ricardo Davis, who had organized the MDC camp, "emphatically denied any association between the cache of bombs and his training camp. It is Davis' understanding, a gambler who formerly had ties in Cuba and Las Vegas, was responsible for the bomb cache" (NARA 124-10244-10256; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12).
DRE delegate Carlos Bringuier had heard about the raid on the McLaney property, but doesn't betray any signs of familiarity with it, or even much concern. For example, he refers to the cache off-handedly as something "the police found here in New Orleans" (Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. X, 35), when one would expect anyone with any interest in the matter to know that the FBI, not the police, were behind the raid. Anyone involved in illegal arms deals would certainly know the difference.
The Orleans Parish Grand Jury subpoenaed Byron Chiverton, who lived "right next door" (Orleans Parish Grand Jury testimony of Byron Chiverton, August 16, 1967, 33) to McLaney, and Chiverton repeatedly professed total ignorance of any paramilitary activity or training whatsoever on his neighbor's property. He insisted that he had never seen any unusual activity at all next door, had never seen McLaney receive any notable visitors, and had never seen anyone of Cuban or Hispanic extraction there at any time (Ibid., 38-40. Chiverton never did learn much about what had gone on, but Bill McLaney tried to assure him that everything had been taken care of [Ibid., 39].). In fact, he was away for the week when the arms cache was seized, and would have never have even known about even that had he not heard about it from the press (Ibid., 38. Chiverton was shown the names of the eleven men arrested in connection with the arms cache, and Chiverton said he was not familiar with any of them, nor did he know anyone affiliated with the Minutemen [Ibid., 33-4].).
Further confusion ensued when Jim Garrison became convinced -- from a statement of Jack S. Martin's -- that Lee Harvey Oswald himself had trained with a rifle at Lacombe. When the NODA was unable to find any evidence of shooting at the site of the former MDC camp, Garrison decided that the MDC camp was merely a front -- an "overt" camp, as he called it -- for a secret, "covert" camp, where Oswald and others had trained with rifles. Despite a great deal of investigation -- including an arduous search through the swamps of Slidell, Louisiana, by Assistant DA Alvin Oser -- nothing came of the theory (Brener, 70-2).
129. The McLaney cache consisted largely of explosives (New Orleans Times-Picayune, August 1, 1963; Ibid., August 2, 1963), while little or no arms training went on at the MDC camp: "No shooting whatever took place at the camp, nor was there much to shoot with. One trainee reported that they had a total of two or three old Springfield rifles and one M-1 carbine. They were used to demonstrate assembly and disassembly of the weapons, but were never fired" (Milton Brener, The Garrison Case, 70). "The campsite [was] discovered by Garrison's assistants, but the evidence indicated that no firing had occurred there" (Brener, 71). See Gus Russo, Live by the Sword, 183-9, for a brief summary.
130. Gus Russo, Live By the Sword,186. According to witness Nilo Messer, funds also came from the US government. Russo passes along a good deal of misinformation, however, incorrectly linking the DRE cache to the Houma heist (with false information ironically provided by Carlos Quiroga [Russo, 186-7] -- who had no part in the heist -- which should reinforce the belief that Quiroga and friends were genuinely "out of the loop" where the arms cache was concerned), and erroneously linking the MDC camp to David Ferrie (Russo, 187); see endnote 139.
131. William McLaney's brother Michael had operated a gambling concession in Havana's Hotel National during the Batista regime, and he reportedly financed anti-Castro operations in exchange for a pledge of gambling concessions should Castro be ousted (FBI from SSCIA 157-10007-10104; NARA 124-10236-10075; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12).
FBI agents raided the McLaney house with a search warrant based on an affidavit by FBI agent Warren de Brueys. The FBI reported: "It is noted that we received information from Miami, Florida, source on July 18, 1963, that Acelo Pedroso, former Cuban pilot, had gone to New Orleans about July 16, 1963, to check some bombs allegedly to be used on bombing raid over Cuba. Pedroso, upon interview July 19, 1963, admitted traveling to New Orleans with two Cubans and being taken to a house in the New Orleans area where some bombs, fuses and dynamite were located. The bombs were not suitable for use on bombing mission. Pedroso voluntarily accompanied Miami Agent to New Orleans on July 30, 1963, and identified house which had been pinpointed by New Orleans Office agents, as house where munitions were stored. On July 31, 1963, representative of our New Orleans office, which authorized search warrant, searched residence located in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, owned by William Julius McLaney, 4213 Encampment Street, New Orleans, Louisiana . . . There are no references in the OSWALD case to any of the Subjects of the seizure matter. We have no indication that OSWALD had any connection with it" (FBI 62-109060-4760; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12).
The arms were intended for a bombing run on the Shell Oil Refinery in Havana. Sam Benton and Victor Espinosa, who were among those arrested but not charged on July 31, 1963, had been arrested six weeks earlier in Miami -- though the charges were dropped within a few days -- while preparing for a similar air strike on the refinery. Benton claimed he "was acting in a consultant capacity," and was there to photograph the raid for the news media. Espinosa reportedly had been trying to hire an exile to fly the mission (FBI from SSCIA 157-10007-10104; NARA 124-10236-10075; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12). Richard Lauchli, also arrested in connection with the McLaney cache, was supplying the explosives to Benton and Espinosa for the aborted June 15 raid" (FBI Miami MM 105-1742; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12).
132. Claudia Furiati, ZR Rifle: The Plot to Kill Kennedy and Castro, 123; La Fontaine, 421 fn. 71. Of course, the La Fontaines' star witness, John Elrod, is alleged to link Oswald to the accused assassin's own murderer, Jack Ruby (La Fontaine, 35). Ruby, the La Fontaines tell us, "was tagged as the western kingpin of an arms-smuggling 'corridor' extending eastward through Louisiana to Santos Trafficante in Miami (Ibid.). ("That Ruby was involved in gunrunning has been well documented by respected journalist Seth Kantor and others," the La Fontaines tell us, though it's denied by people cited as sources in the La Fontaines own book, such as ATF agent Frank Ellsworth [Russ Burr, Newsgroup post of December 1, 1999, citing his personal interview with Frank Ellsworth].) For information on John Elrod, please click here.
133. Furiati, 77. According to Furiati, "Since Operation Mongoose, Banister's office had been a center of arms supply and distribution -- frequented by a large number of Cuban exiles, Lee Harvey Oswald, Clay Shaw (director of the International Trade Mart) and David Ferrie. Banister's unit was part of a line of contraband weapons that characterized the 'Louisiana Corridor' (Dallas-New Orleans-Miami) controlled by the Mafia, including Jack Ruby (a Mafia leader from Dallas and future assassin of Lee Harvey Oswald) and directed in Miami by Santos Trafficante" (Ibid.).
There are so many errors of facts and false assumptions in this one paragraph of Furiati's, it's hard to know where to begin. Guy Banister had nothing whatsoever to do with Operation Mongoose, nor is there any evidence he was involved with any CIA operation. Jim Garrison and his followers probably drew this assumption from Banister's close proximity to Sergio Arcacha Smith, who was distantly connected to Mongoose before being deposed from the Cuban Revolutionary Council in January 1962, and who subsequently left Louisiana. Ironically, however, any contact Banister had with Arcacha took place not while the two had offices in the Newman Building (for about three months), but earlier, when both were located in the Balter Building. Since Arcacha's fellow exiles had warned him to keep his distance from Ferrie following the latter's morals arrests in the summer of 1961 (see accounts by Carlos Bringuier and Carlos Quiroga; A. J. Weberman Web site), by the time the CRC moved to 544 Camp, Arcacha and Ferrie were no longer in contact. Arcacha was deposed only a few months later. When questioned about his involvement with the CRC later on, Ferrie was completely unaware that Arcacha had worked out of an office around the corner from Guy Banister and Associates for several months (FBI interview of November 25, 1963).
Whether Guy Banister's office was "frequented by a large number of Cuban exiles," remains in question, as Garrison attributes this information to the late Jack Martin, whom Garrison seems to use whenever he needs a handy source to cite (Garrison, 34).
Lee Harvey Oswald has never been placed in Banister's office by a single credible witness.
Furiati also places Clay Shaw in Banister's office, something no one but Jack Martin has ever done -- and not until 1978. Furiati would have Banister not only running guns, but doing so hand-in-hand with "the Mafia, including Jack Ruby," described as "a Mafia leader," which Ruby certainly was not.
In her footnotes to these assertions, Furiati also states that "Ferrie was involved very early in anti-Castro actions." False -- he was involved briefly with Sergio Arcacha Smith's delegation of the CRC in the summer of 1961. "He participated in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion . . ." (False, although he was known to make claims to the contrary; his Cuba-related activities did not begin until after the Bay of Pigs [Martin L. McAuliffe, Interview of May 9, 1967, and various accounts of Ferrie to FBI and others; David Blackburst, Newsgroup post of November 27, 1997].) Ferrie "flew planes loaded with bombs on missions paid for by Eladio del Valle, an ex-Cuban parliamentarian linked to Santos Trafficante." (False -- this story was fabricated out of whole cloth by Latin American rumor-monger Diego Tedendera, based on the fact that Ferrie and del Valle died within 24 hours of each other, and picked up by the National Enquirer in April 1967. There is no evidence that Ferrie ever even met del Valle.) "Shortly after the Bay of Pigs, [Ferrie] began to work directly with Sergio Arcacha Smith," (true) "and was subsequently contracted by Guy Banister." (True, but not for anything related to Cuba and/or gunrunning [House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 110].) "He liked to recite anti-communist slogans for counterrevolutionary groups." (God only knows where Furiati got this one. What's next -- folk dancing with Ruth and Michael Paine?)
According to Furiati, "Jim Garrison followed a trail that led to the contraband weapons business: a mission conducted by David Ferrie at an air base in Houma, a town in Southern Louisiana. The men entered an explosives depot of the Schlumberger Corporation, and took munitions which were then taken to New Orleans."
Ferrie was along for the burglary in Houma, but it was Gordon Novel's idea, and Ferrie only knew Novel through Sergio Arcacha Smith. Contrary to what one reads in many books, the Houma heist was nothing more than a simple burglary (see endnote 175).
Some of the munitions were indeed taken to New Orleans, but quickly shipped to exiles in Miami or Cuba.
"Schlumberger was a large French company which served petroleum producers all over the world and which supported the OAS (Secret Army Organization), a French counter-revolutionary body supported by the CIA."
Furiati has things a little backwards. While Schlumberger has been linked to the OAS by some, the CIA's support has hardly been confirmed, and at any rate, Novel and company were stealing weapons from a bunker belonging to Schlumberger.
"Clay Shaw, as well as being the director of the International Market of New Orleans, was also a director of Permindex, which financed the opposition created by the OAS to the independence of Algeria."
Shaw lent his name to Permindex, but never had an opportunity to even so much as attend a single board meeting. Attempts to link Shaw with paramilitary activities of any kind are pure fiction.
Furiati seems to have swallowed every Garrisonite myth imaginable -- and these examples constitute only two paragraphs and three footnotes from her book.
134. Garrison, 37-8. Garrison quotes: CACHE OF MATERIAL FOR BOMBS SEIZED: "More than a ton of dynamite, 20 bomb casings three-feet long, napalm (fire-bomb) material and other devices were seized Wednesday by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in a resort area in St. Tammany Parish, between Mandeville and Lacombe . . . in connection with an investigation of an effort to 'carry out a military operation against a country with which the United States is at peace.' This is in violation of Title 18, Section 960 of the US Code."
135. Garrison, 42.
136. Garrison, 44.
137. Garrison, 43.
138. Garrison, 43. Incredibly, not a word about the arms cache or Jack S. Martin appears in Garrison's first book on the assassination, 1970's A Heritage of Stone. (Martin is referred to anonymously as a "Someone" who informed the DA's office about his suspicions regarding Ferrie in 1963 [Garrison, A Heritage of Stone, 1975 ed., 14].) That book does manage to pass along one groundless factoid regarding the anti-Castro activities near Lake Pontchartrain, however -- that until "President Kennedy ordered an end to the CIA's continued training of anti-Castro guerrillas at the small, scattered camps in Florida and north of Lake Pontchartrain," on July 31, 1963, David "Ferrie, dressed in rumpled combat fatigues with a combat field cap perched carelessly on top of his false hair, frequently traveled to the training areas across the lake" (Jim Garrison, A Heritage of Stone, 1975 ed., 109, 208 fn. 50). Garrison's cited source for this claim? The endnote reads, "New Orleans District Attorney's Office had obtained statements from several of Ferrie's friends and acquaintances to this effect" (Ibid., 208 fn. 51). Garrison declines to name any of these "friends and acquaintances" specifically, much less cite any particular interviews or reports. Perhaps that is because there is no factual basis for the claim whatsoever. David Blackburst has interviewed the trainers of the Lake Pontchartrain MDC training camp, with which Dave Ferrie and Guy Banister both have been falsely associated, who have no recollection of Ferrie, Banister or practically any other American ever being at the camp. Victor Paneque told Blackburst that he had done all the training at the camp, did not ever see Ferrie there, and had ascertained in 1967 that no one else had seen Ferrie there either. "In NODA interviews, Laureano Batista Falla (2/5/67) said there were no English-speaking people at the camp except Ricardo Davis and Fernando Fernandez. Angel Vega (2/5/67) said he never saw . . . Lindbergh (NODA code name for Ferrie) at the camp, that the only other Americans he saw there were the DeLaBarres. [paragraph] Ricardo Davis, who helped organize the MDC camp, gave a joint interview with Arcacha to Holland McCombs of Time (3/21/67). Both told McCombs that . . . Ferrie did not run any training camp [and] that Ferrie did not concentrate on any one thing long enough to operate a training camp." Carlos Quiroga and Carlos Bringuier "were not directly involved in the MDC camp," but "they both had heard that Ferrie had nothing to do with it" (David Blackburst, Newsgroup post of March 20, 1999). Blackburst adds, "I have the impression that the NODA investigators chronologically confused Ferrie's 1960-1961 'Internal Mobile Security Units' training of a few former CAP cadets (no Cubans) at Abita Springs with the 1963 MDC camp. I don't know how they came to the conclusion that Guy Banister was behind the MDC camp, as several of the organizers/participants deny this" (David Blackburst, Newsgroup post of April 24, 1999.)
The waters have been muddied even more by onetime House Select Committee on Assassinations Deputy Counsel Robert Tanenbaum. Tanenbaum, who resigned from the HSCA when it became clear the committee would not be pursuing the Garrison-inspired theories he favored, began in the 1990s to allege to have seen all sorts of intriguing evidence that no one else at the HSCA ever saw, including an 8 mm film allegedly depicting not only Ferrie at the MDC camp, but also Lee Harvey Oswald, Guy Banister, onetime CIA employee (and perennial assassination suspect) David Atlee Phillips -- all in each other's company -- and as a cherry on the sundae, an Oswald look-alike as well, just barely discernible from the real thing (Tanenbaum, Corruption of Blood, 169-70, 187-9).
Though Corruption of Blood is a work of fiction, Tanenbaum notes that "much of the documentary evidence mentioned here actually exists, or did exist at one time" ("Author's Note," 9), and has reaffirmed this in testimony before the Assassination Records Review Board.
With the exception of Oswald and Ferrie, the figures are, in Tanenbaum's words, "thinly disguised" in his book ("Author's Note," 9), with Guy Banister easily identifiable as "Gary Becker," Veciana referred to as "Antonio Veroa," and Phillips, unsurprisingly, identified as "Maurice Bishop." Tanenbaum claimed to Jim DiEugenio that his description of the film is accurate:
JD: Was it really as you described in the book, with all the people in that film? Bishop was in the film?
BT: Oh, yeah. Absolutely! They're all in the film. They're all there (Probe, Ibid.).
Tanenbaum partially affirmed this in his testimony before the Assassination Records Review Board:
DR. HALL: And just for the record, the significance of this film if it were now recovered, would be?
MR. TANENBAUM: . . . It could be everything [or] it could be nothing. On one hand it shows a lot of anti-Castro Cuban players with CIA contract people in a military training setting. It was some speculation, somewhat unclear, as to the direct identities of some of these people, and as I stand here now I'm not going to tell you exactly who they were. But, it was some of the major players in this whole case.
There is no trace of such a film at the National Archives, and Tanenbaum is the only person on record -- at the HSCA or anywhere else -- as ever having seen it or even knowing of its existence. Regarding the purported film's origins, Tanenbaum told the ARRB, "To the best of my recollection, we found that movie somewhere in the Georgetown library archives."
Researcher John R. Woods has tried without success to verify that the HSCA did indeed find such a film at Georgetown. George M. Barringer, Assistant University Librarian, Special Collections & Archives of Georgetown University, wrote Woods in a letter of March 2, 1999, "Mr. Tanenbaum's recollection, that he found film footage of Cuban exiles training in this country at Georgetown, is mistaken. We have never had such footage" (John R. Woods, Newsgroup post of March 6, 1999).
Other evidence Tanenbaum claims to have seen includes a vanished CIA document listing a "Lee Henry [sic] Oswald" and a "Maurice Bishop" as CIA contract agents (Robert Tanenbaum, Corruption of Blood, 1996 ed., 101), photographs of Oswald with Garrison assassination suspect Clay Shaw (Tanenbaum, 1996 testimony before the Assassination Records Review Board), and documents proving that the CIA had disrupted Jim Garrison's assassination investigation ("The Probe Interview: Bob Tanenbaum, Probe, July-August, 1996, Vol. 3, No. 5).
A Heritage of Stone also fails to mention Guy Banister in connection with any alleged gunrunning activities, with the possible exception of the Houma burglary, which is credited to "David Ferrie and others from the Banister menage" (Garrison, A Heritage of Stone, 1975 ed., 97, see also p. 144). Garrison adds, "Coincidentally, the president of the Schlumberger Company in 1963 was Jean de Menil. De Menil was a friend of George de Mohrenschildt [sic], Lee Oswald's most frequent companion on his return in Dallas from Russia" (Ibid.). This is a rare example of something Martin did allege for the record about Banister's alleged gunrunning. He told Garrison that the Schlumberger arms cache at Houma in 1961 (not to be confused with the McLaney cache at Lacombe in 1963) "were left over from anti-Gaullist operations in Guadeloupe and Martinique" (Affidavit of Jack Martin and David Lewis, February 20, 1968). (See endnote 96.)
139. See for example NODA interview with Jack Martin, December 13, 1966; NODA interview with Jack Martin, December 14, 1966; NODA statement of Jack Martin, December 26, 1966; "General Statement & Affidavit Regarding Garrison Probe," April 7, 1967; Undated statement of Jack Martin, Fontainbleau Motel (Connick collection, Box 1); Interview of Jack Martin by Jim Garrison (Connick collection, Box 1); Jack Martin, Tape #1 (Connick collection, Box 1); Conversation between Jack Martin and Louis Ivon (Connick collection, Box 2); Affidavit of Jack Martin and David Lewis, February 20, 1968; "JFK Assassination Investigation Report," Jack Martin and David Lewis, March 1, 1968; Undated handwritten statement from Jack Martin to "Jim [Garrison] and Lou [Ivon]"; and nineteen telephone transcripts, recorded with Martin's knowledge, dated from May 25, 1967, to November 22, 1967. Martin also spoke at length with the House Select Committee on Assassinations a decade later.
The only gunrunning activities Martin ever spoke about on the record involved the Houma heist, with which Banister himself was not involved.
140. For what it's worth, Garrison dates Martin's statements to just after the occasion the NODA spoke with Guy Banister's widow and received enough information from her to track down a handful of index cards from Banister's personal files, dispersed at the time of his death (Garrison, 41-2). This would be in late January or early February 1967 (Richard Billings, contemporaneous notes, January 25, 1966 [pp. 9]). Judging from Billings' dating, which is vague at times, these notes actually could have been written as late as February 10, 1967.
141. Richard Billings, contemporaneous notes, January 25, 1966 (pp. 7-8). By early February, Jim Garrison had learned from Davis and Vega a fact one would never know from the La Fontaines' Oswald Talked: that the exile training camp run by the Movimiento Democrata Cristiano or Christian Democratic Movement (MDC) was an entirely separate entity from what Garrison was then calling a second, "ultra conservative camp," located on land owned by the McLaney family (Richard Billings, contemporaneous notes, January 25, 1967 [p. 8]; see also Russo, 163).
Also, as Garrison should have been aware, both the exile training camp and the arms cache are mentioned in Carlos Bringuier's Warren Commission testimony (Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. X, 35, 43).
142. Richard Billings, contemporaneous notes, February 11, 1967 (p. 9).
143. Garrison, 32.
144. Richard Billings, contemporaneous notes, undated entry from December 1966 (p. 2).
145. Richard Billings, contemporaneous notes, undated entry from December 1966 (p. 2).
146. Richard Billings, contemporaneous notes, December 29, 1966 (p. 4). Garrison generously avoids mention of the lawsuit Martin had filed against him in the summer of 1963, which had been withdrawn.
147. Richard Billings, contemporaneous notes, January 25, 1967 (p. 8).
148. Richard Billings, contemporaneous notes, January 25, 1967 (p. 8). Milton Brener, once an assistant DA under Garrison, writes, "Martin will talk for hours on end upon the slightest provocation. Any information or misinformation he possesses is available for a drink. There will generally be considerably more of the latter than the former and only the least discriminating rely upon 'facts' learned from him. They do so at their peril" (Brener, 45). "He has a knack for turning up in the middle of controversial matters, though he contributes little. As Ferrie himself was later to tell the District Attorney: 'Martin somehow gets to be near the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral'" (Ibid.).
Hubert Badeaux, former chief of the New Orleans police intelligence division says, "Jack drank, took pills, and had a criminal record. He was goofy to begin with, and lied all the time" (Gerald Posner, Case Closed, 139, citing his personal interview with Hubert Badeaux, March 24, 1992).
149. HSCA 180-10087-10439, p. 75; Jerry Shinley, Newsgroup post of January 1, 1999. "After years of all kinds of wild allegations," Kohn continues, ". . . I threw him out of my office after he wound down to the point where he was 'turn-offable,' if there is any such thing." Martin wasn't merely giving information to Garrison in the fall of 1966, either: "Jack Martin," Kohn stated, "is the man who came in here about August 1966 to tell me the theory of the JFK assassination that came out of Jim Garrison's mouth in January 1967" (Ibid.).
150. HSCA 180-10087-10439, p. 75; Jerry Shinley, Newsgroup post of January 1, 1999.
151. FBI 62-109060-4539; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 24, 2.
152. FBI 62-109060-4539; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 24, 2.
153. FBI 62-109060-4539; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 24, 2. Onetime Garrison investigator Pershing Gervais described Martin as "absolutely crazy" (Lambert, 30 fn.). Gervais said that Martin "had a way of breathing up stories and being very positive about things. He would concoct things about someone and then he would talk to that someone" and construct a story "that would kind of jibe." When asked about Martin's reliability, Gervais laughed and said, "He couldn't be reliable if he intended to be" (Lambert, 296 fn. 24, citing her personal interview with Pershing Gervais, September 3, 1993). Garrison investigator Lynn Loisel -- who was nothing if not loyal to his boss -- referred to Martin at that time as a "sack of roaches" (Hugh Exnicios, Lynn Loisel, and Al Beauboeuf, "Conference," twenty-nine-page transcript, March 10, 1967, cited in Lambert, 230, 329 fn. 9).
Rosemary James and Jack Wardlaw quote an anonymous New Orleans States-Item reporter as saying that Martin occasionally had good information, but he "is as full of that well known waste material as a yule hen. . . . He must be taken with a grain of salt leavened by a grain of confidence. If you listen to him for two hours, often you will receive two minutes of useful information. I suppose, to sum him up, he is like a muddy river. You have to use a very fine filter" (Rosemary James and Jack Wardlaw, Plot or Politics?, 48).
154. Patricia Lambert, False Witness, 30.
155. FBI 62-109060-4539; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 24, 2.
156. FBI 62-109060-4539; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 24, 2.
157. See A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 24, 2 for more details on Martin and Stanley.
158. Secret Service report, December 13, 1963, Anthony Gerrets, New Orleans (Warren Commission Document 87; cited in House Select Committee Hearings Vol. IX, 105-6). In their zeal to discredit Gerald Posner's analysis of Jim Garrison's witnesses, they give him a slap on the wrist for calling Jack Martin such a "malicious" thing as "an admitted drunk" (La Fontaine, 152; Posner, 139). Gerrets' report states flatly, "Martin had admitted to being a heavy drinker . . ."
159. Secret Service report, December 13, 1963, Anthony Gerrets, New Orleans (Warren Commission Document 87; cited in House Select Committee Hearings Vol. IX, 105-6).
160. House Select Committee Hearings Vol. IX, 106; FBI airtel from New Orleans to Director and Dallas office, Nov. 28, 1963, David W. Ferrie file. A. J. Weberman writes:
On November 23, 1963, Edward Suggs was visited by bail bondsman Hardy W. Davis. Edward Suggs told Hardy Davis he had seen a photograph of David Ferrie holding a rifle similar to OSWALD's and that David Ferrie had once discussed a short story plot which involved the shooting of the President of the United States. The FBI: "Hardy Davis advised that they discussed remarks made by Ferrie to the effect that he would like to kill several Deputy Sheriffs and the Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department, whom Ferrie believed had been persecuting him and caused him to be arrested for homosexual crimes." Edward Suggs told Hardy Davis that a television program had reported that the library card of David Ferrie had been found in the possession of OSWALD on his arrest in Dallas. When Hardy Davis heard this he called G. Wray Gill, an employer of David Ferrie. "While talking to Gill, Hardy Davis advised he heard that Ferrie had received Cuban literature in Gill's office, and Gill confirmed this in conversation to Davis. Davis stated he did not know when the literature was received, or what the nature of the literature was, which was mailed to Gill's office." Edward Suggs said that Hardy Davis remarked he heard David Ferrie had received literature from the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, which had been mailed to the offices of G. Wray. [FBI NO 89-69-341] Edward Suggs later told the FBI: "Suggs does not believe this to be true, as a Ferrie was connected with anti-Castro group that operated in New Orleans before the Bay of Pigs invasion. Suggs states he is acquainted with the leaders of anti-Castro group, and is well aware of Ferrie's connection with them."
On November 23, 1963, Edward Suggs called New Orleans Assistant District Attorney Herman Kohlman and said that in 1955 OSWALD and David Ferrie were in the Civil Air Patrol together and both were members of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in 1963. Edward Suggs told Major Presley J. Trosclair of the New Orleans Police Dept. the same story.
On Monday, November 25, 1963, Edward Suggs went to FBI S.A. Regis Kennedy with the story:
"Edward Suggs, 1311 North Prieur Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, advised that he was listening to a television program on WWL-TV reported the life of LEE HARVEY OSWALD and reporting various interviews with people in New Orleans that were acquainted with OSWALD. Suggs stated that one of the people interviewed whose name he not know, aged early 20's, wearing horned-rim glasses, recalled that OSWALD had been active in the Civil Air Patrol with David Ferrie. [This fits the physical and biographical descriptions of Edward Voebel, who attended a few CAP meetings with Oswald and was interviewed on TV shortly after the assassination.] Suggs stated that when he heard this he flipped."
"Suggs advised that in his occupation as a private investigator he had an occasion to develop considerable information about Ferrie and reported it to one Richard E. Roby, Special Agent, Investigative Division, Office of Compliance and Security, Federal Aviation Agency, Washington, D.C. who must have a big file on Ferrie as a they conducted a complete investigation of his activities in New Orleans several years ago. Suggs advised that he called WWL-TV Station and furnished the station with background information about Ferrie, particularly his homosexual tendencies and that the fact he formerly operated the Civil Air Patrol. He also told them that Ferrie was an amateur hypnotist and may have hypnotized OSWALD and planted a post-hypnotic suggestion that he kill the President."
"Suggs stated that he has visited in the home of David Ferrie and he saw a group of photographs of various Civil Air Patrol cadet groups and in this group he is sure he saw several years ago a photograph of LEE OSWALD as a member of one of the classes. He stated he did not recall the group that OSWALD was in or any other details . . ."
"Suggs advised that he was really suspicious of Ferrie's activities when he received a report from W. Hardy Davis, a New Orleans Bail Bondsman, who told him that G. Wray Gill, New Orleans attorney and employer of Ferrie had called him to locate Ferrie who lives down the street from him and at the same time had denied to the TV station that Ferrie was an employee of Gill's office. Davis furnished Suggs information that Ferrie had left town for Texas on Friday evening, November 22, 1963, which information he also made available to Mr. Kohlman."
"Suggs stated that Ferrie is a completely disreputable person, a notorious sex deviate with a brilliant mind being highly trained in mathematics, sciences, several foreign languages including Latin, modern Greek and ancient Greek. Suggs advised that Ferrie had been education in a seminary and subsequently expelled from the Catholic Church and he, Suggs, suspected him of being capable of committing any type of crime. Suggs stated that he felt that Ferrie's possible association with OSWALD should be the subject of close examination as a he personally believed that he could be implicated in the killing of President Kennedy" (A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 24).
Jack Martin had once worked with Dave Ferrie and held a grudge against him for various offenses that most likely originated in his imagination. He blamed Ferrie for prejudicing G. Wray Gill against him, when Gill knew Martin very well and was quite capable of mistrusting Martin for plenty of reasons of his own.
Ferrie . . . said he first met Suggs in the Fall of 1961 and "since that time Suggs has attempted to insert himself in his [Ferrie's] personal affairs . . . He stated that Suggs began visiting him at the office of Attorney G. Wray Gill and that Mr. Gill did not want Mr. Suggs hanging around his office. Ferrie claimed that in June 1963 he put Suggs out of Mr. Gill's office in an undiplomatic manner, and that since that time Suggs has bedeviled him in every possible manner . . ." (Ibid.)
In the early 1960s -- prior to the assassination -- David Ferrie said, "I consider Mr. Suggs mentally, emotionally unstable. He has been in Charity Hospital with psychiatric bouts of one kind or another. I know him as a man who is commonly spoken of as an ambivalent. He plays both sides of the street. Most of his conversation is spent telling you how he wants to torpedo somebody . . ." (A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 24.)
G. Wray Gill noted that Ferrie and Martin had been friends until "Martin did not get a job he wanted" and blamed Ferrie for his failure. After that, Martin had "slandered" Ferrie "at every opportunity" (Gill, FBI interview of November 27, 1963, cited in Lambert, 296 fn. 23). Ferrie pegged Martin as an "unethical and dangerous person" (Lambert, 30, citing Ferrie, FBI interview of November 25, 1963).
Strangely, Martin had never mentioned any of his allegations to his own wife, who could only state that "wherever there is excitement or intrigue, Jack is going to be" (Harold Weisberg, Oswald in New Orleans, 352).
It has been established now that Ferrie and Oswald briefly encountered one another during the summer of 1955, when Oswald briefly took an interest in the Civil Air Patrol. Click here to read the House Select Committee's staff report on Oswald, Ferrie, and the Civil Air Patrol. Also see my article, "Fair Play for Clay Shaw," endnote 10.
161. House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 130.
162. La Fontaine, 145.
163. La Fontaine, 145.
164. Summers, 489.
165. Summers, 304.
166. Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 247.
167. Scott, 247, citing House Select Committee Hearings, X, 130, cf. 110; House Select Committee Final Report, citing House Select Committee Hearings, X, 110; cf. Warren Commission Document 75, p. 293).
168. Scott, 247.
169. Patricia Lambert, False Witness, 23, citing Mercy Hospital records, December 27, 1956.
170. La Fontaine, 182.
171. Warren Hinckle and William Turner, Deadly Secrets, 230.
172. Martin is the only source given for statements of Garrison's such as the assertion that Guy Banister's office was "frequented by a large number of Cuban exiles" (Garrison, 34). Patricia Lambert notes, "Jack Martin's close relationship with Garrison continued until the latter part of 1967, when a break occurred. It was probably precipitated by an odd and revealing document Martin filed with the Recorder of Mortgages for the Parish of Orleans (in Book No. 2126) and with the Louisiana Secretary of State (in Book 8, Folio 83), entitled, 'Article of Incorporation of "Garrison-Intelligence-Agency."' The purpose this 'independent intelligence force' was 'to render and give aid to Jim Garrison, and to otherwise support him in his efforts.' 'Dear Jim,' Martin wrote, in his letter sending a copy of the articles to Garrison, 'Well, I've done as you wanted.' Martin described his preparation and filing of the papers for the entity 'otherwise known as 'Garrison's Guerrillas," just as we've talked about.' He had 'kited a couple of checks (cause [sic] we were broke),' Martin said, 'to get these papers filed.' Written in the upper right-hand corner of Martin's letter in Garrison's hand is this: 'Spoke to J. M. [Jack Martin] 12/3/67. Must be abolished'" (Lambert, 329 fn. 10).
173. For example, when Garrison describes Cuban exiles, "many unshaven and wearing green combat garb and boots" tramping in and out of Banister's office all the livelong day, no source is cited (Garrison, 47). One exception should be noted, however. In 1970's A Heritage of Stone, Garrison reports that "it was in this aging building on Camp Street that strangers arrived and departed, some in green fatigues and others in civilian clothes, in an endless parade of undisclosed missions. Many of the visitors were Cuban exiles and men engaged in anti-Castro projects" (Garrison, A Heritage of Stone, 1975 ed., 141). Garrison's source? The endnote reads, "New Orleans District Attorney's Office has obtained statements from several people who frequented Banister's office, the import of which statements is to this effect" (Ibid., 210 fn. 24). Unfortunately, these "statements" seem not to have been of enough "import" for Garrison to ever produce.
174. David Blackburst is one of the foremost researchers on the subject of the New Orleans investigation. His posts to the Usenet forums alt.conspiracy.jfk and alt.assassination.jfk have been of enormous value in setting the record straight on numerous accounts.
175. Contrary to later claims by participant Gordon Novel (a self-proclaimed electronics expert who was working with Garrison until Garrison decided that Novel's associations were suspicious and subpoenaed him as a witness, whereupon Novel left the state), the heist appears to have been, in fact, a simple burglary, not the CIA "weapons transfer" alleged in many conspiracy books (cf. New Orleans States-Item, May 25, 1967; Grand Jury transcript of Rancier Blaise Ehlinger, March 30, 1967. Nevertheless, even Gus Russo reports the incident as a CIA weapons transfer [Russo, Live by the Sword, 150-3].).
According to one account by Gordon Novel, "It was one of the most patriotic burglaries ever committed . . . the CIA virtually gave us the key to the bunker . . . my fellow burglar, Arcacha Smith, and I are still employed by the CIA" (New Orleans States-Item, April 25, 1967).
Novel was lying. (He also claimed at times that the Agency did give him a key to the bunker, and at other times would state that bolt cutters were used to enter the bunker. Others present recall bolt cutters being used [cf. Grand Jury transcript of Rancier Blaise Ehlinger, March 30, 1967; New Orleans States-Item, May 25, 1967; Novel libel decision, see below].) Numerous CIA internal memoranda from this time period show the Agency to have had no connection with either Novel or Arcacha (cf. CIA Memorandum, June 20, 1967, "Memorandum No. 4: Garrison and the Kennedy Assassination"; Record No. 180-10143-10220, Agency File Number 29-04-01, CIA Segregated Collection; CIA Memorandum, August 14, 1967, Document No. 1232-517; "Memorandum No. 6: Garrison and the Kennedy Assassination," September 7, 1967; CSCI-3/764,414; CIA 1435-492-AD, A. J. Weberman Web site; CIA Memorandum of September 29, 1967).
Novel attorney Jerry Weiner said the CIA allegations were "utterly ridiculous" -- "Novel is not now and never has been a CIA agent" (New Orleans States-Item, April 25, 1967). Until getting mixed up in the Garrison investigation, Novel was running a New Orleans bar, the Jamaican Inn.
William Turner writes:
Novel is wanted by the DA as a material witness in the 1961 burglary of the Schlumberger Well Co. munitions dump near New Orleans. Subpoenaed by the grand jury last March, Novel fled to McLean, Virginia, next door to the CIA complex at Langley, and took a lie detector test administered by a former Army intelligence officer which, he boasted to the press, proved Garrison's probe was a fraud. He then skipped first to Montreal and then to Columbus, Ohio, from where Governor James Rhodes, in one of the most absurd stipulations ever attached to a normally routine procedure, refuses to extradite him unless Garrison agrees not to question him on the assassination.
From his Ohio sanctuary the fugitive cryptically asserted that the munitions caper was one of "the most patriotic burglaries in history." When an enterprising reporter took him to a marathon party, Novel's indiscreet tongue loosened further. According to the States-Item article, Novel's oft-repeated account was that the munitions bunker was a CIA staging point for war materiel destined for use in the impending Bay of Pigs invasion. He is quoted as saying that on the day the munitions were picked up, he "was called by his CIA contact and told to join a group which was ordered to transport munitions from the bunker to New Orleans." The key to the bunker was provided by his CIA contact. Novel reportedly said the others in the CIA group at the bunker were David Ferrie, Sergio Arcacha Smith -- New Orleans delegate to the Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front -- and several Cubans. The munitions, according to his account, were dropped in Novel's office, Ferrie's home and Banister's office-storeroom (William W. Turner, "The Garrison Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy," Ramparts, January 1968).
Novel's image as a CIA operative is entirely self-cultivated. A CIA internal memorandum reads, "Garrison has falsely stated that Gordon D. Novel was a CIA agent and that one of his lawyers, Stephen Plotkin, was paid by CIA. Garrison says he can prove that Novel, along with Arcacha Smith and others, robbed a munitions bunker at Houma, Louisiana at the instigation of CIA. Garrison may claim that this robbery was one of the overt acts of the conspiracy. Actually, Novel has never at any time had any association with the Agency nor has his lawyer, Stephen Plotkin (CIA Memorandum of September 29, 1967, "Clay L. Shaw's Trial and the Central Intelligence Agency).
Much of the credence given to Novel's claims rests upon a letter in his handwriting left behind in Novel's apartment when he fled New Orleans. Seemingly addressed to a supposed CIA contact, a "Mr. Weiss," it reads in part, "This letter is to inform you that . . . Jim Garrison has subpoenaed myself and an associate to testify before this Grand Jury on matters which may be classified Top Secret. Actions of individuals connected with Double Chek Corporation in Miami in first quarter of 1961. Our connection and activity of that period involves individuals presently about to be indicted as conspirators in Mr. Garrison's investigation. We have temporarily avoided one subpoena . . . we want out of this thing before Thursday, March 1967 . . . I have been questioned extensively by local FBI recently as to whether or not I was involved with Double Chek's parent holding corporation at the time. My reply on five queries was negative . . . Our attorneys and others are in possession of complete sealed files containing all information concerning matter. In the event of our sudden departure, either accidental or otherwise, they are instructed to simultaneously release same for public scrutiny . . ." (New Orleans States-Item, May 26, 1967)
Novel was making the whole thing up: Double-Check had been used to launder funds for a group of widows of Bay of Pigs pilots, but was cut loose after being exposed in David Wise and Thomas Ross's 1964 book, The Invisible Government (FBI 61-109060-5361, 5315; A. J. Weberman Web site). Novel would later claim that the boxes were stamped with the name of a well known former CIA proprietary, InterArmco (Davy, 25), while Vernon Gerdes saw several dozen boxes from the burglary and says they were marked "Schlumberger" (House Select Committee on Assassinations, Outside Contact Report, Vernon Gerdes, January 10, 1978; New Orleans States-Item, April 25, 1967).
A. J. Weberman writes, "In his youth, Gordon Novel belonged to a neo-Nazi group and was arrested and charged with bombing a Metairie, Louisiana, theater that admitted blacks. Later, he sold spy devices in New Orleans. Gordon Novel claimed he worked with the Cuban Revolutionary Front during the Bay of Pigs, as a Director of the CIA proprietary, the Evergreen Advertising Agency, and had created cryptographic messages for the CIA" (A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 21). This was untrue. The CIA reported: 'There is no record of any utilization of Gordon Novel, Sergio Arcacha Smith [of the Cuban Revolutionary Front] or Evergreen Advertising Agency" (Ibid.).
Nevertheless, Gus Russo describes the Houma heist as one of a series of CIA weapons transfers, and even Sergio Arcacha Smith's onetime attorney, Frank Hernandez, indicates it to be so. (Arcacha, for his part, denies it.) Since Schlumberger does seem to have aided the CIA in some manner as yet unknown (Russo, 150-1), the possibility for such a thing seems to remain.
Garrison frequently named Gordon Novel as a crucial material witness whose extradition was denied him, contributing to the acquittal of Clay Shaw (Garrison, 208-11, 266). Yet by Garrison's own admission, he wanted to question Novel "about the munitions he, along with David Ferrie and the anti-Castro Cubans, had taken from the Schlumberger bunker at the Houma blimp base" (Garrison, 193 fn.) -- not relating to the assassination itself or Clay Shaw in particular.
Garrison advocates have strained their imaginations for over three decades trying to figure out precisely what Novel's role in the assassination was -- since he had to be involved, right? -- even going so far as to note his alleged resemblance to the infamous "Umbrella Man" in Dealey Plaza.
Novel's status as a "material witness" was nothing but another Garrison ruse. He even could have extradited Novel had he actually wished to do so. He had sixty days in which to complete the necessary paperwork, and he specifically instructed Assistant DA James Alcock not to do so. Garrison also admitted to Bernard Fensterwald that he would "wait," rather than use legal means to bring Novel to Louisiana ("Novel Will Be Returned -- Ohio," New Orleans Time-Picayune, May 10, 1967, "Ohio Frees 'Witness' Sought by Garrison," New York Times, July 4, 1967; Epstein, Counterplot, anthologized in The Assassination Chronicles, 248; Bernard Fensterwald, Notes on interview with Jim Garrison, August 26, 1967).
Garrison investigator Tom Bethell noted in a journal entry of December 4, 1967:
Last Thursday, a lawyer from Playboy was here, and I happened to be in Garrison's office when he asked Garrison some blunt questions about Gordon Novel and his involvement in the case. He pointed out to Garrison that he had read the Novel files, but was unable to make any headway in understanding how Novel became involved. I had found the same thing myself; the 2 Novel files are in a state of chaos, and there are no interviews with Novel in them, or really any material directly relating to Novel's connection with the office or with the probe or with the assassination. Merely contains previous offenses-e.g. attempt to derail railroad train, throwing rocks at cars, etc. (as a minor), and many telegrams to Marlene Mancuso which date back to the '50s. Therefore I awaited Garrison's reply with interest.
Garrison said he only saw Novel three times, the first being when he was approached by Novel with the offer to be some kind of de-bugging officer for the office. He was introduced to Garrison by Willard Robertson. Subsequently Garrison discovered, he said, that Novel had sold a photograph to NBC (of a truck or something) and then had no further dealings with him. Novel also volunteered information about the Houma burglary, and his knowledge of Ferrie and Arcacha. Novel was due to appear before the grand jury, but fled to Ohio before he did so.
Garrison admitted to the lawyer -- in response to questioning -- that Novel had no connection, as far as he knew, with the assassination. That the office never was too concerned about him or interested in him, thus accounting for the paucity of information about him in the files.
The photograph in question was of a laundry truck owned by Luis Ravel, which had been used during the Houma heist. There is no evidence that Novel sold the photo to NBC, though he himself was probably the source of Garrison's belief that he did. (Milton Brener states flatly that Novel was not paid, and Brener's source is most likely NBC's Walter Sheridan [Brener, 179].) The importance of the truck lay in a theory advanced by Mark Lane -- that the truck resembled one seen in photographs taken in Dealey Plaza that fateful day. Assistant DA William Gurvich would remark, "The truck used for the Houma trip was apparently similar to the one identified by Lane to this extent: They both had four wheels" (Brener, 82).
When Garrison discussed Novel in his Playboy interview, Novel sued the DA and the publisher for libel and lost. Here are some relevant portions of the decision, courtesy of Jerry Shinley:
Some time in February, 1967 Mr. Novel, knowing that one David Ferrie figured prominently in defendant Garrison's investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy, voluntarily disclosed to Mr. Garrison that he (Novel), David Ferrie and one Sergio Arcacha Smith, the head of an anti-Castro Cuban refugee organization, had been associated in 1961 in the removal of military munitions from a bunker in Houma, Louisiana. Mr. Novel told Mr. Garrison that he had been asked to participate in the removal of munitions by Arcacha Smith who had requested him to wear dark clothes and come armed; that entrance to the bunker was accomplished with the aid of bolt cutters; that the removal was carried out under cover of darkness; and that plaintiff and his companions had posted a look-out with a walkie-talkie radio set in order to avoid being apprehended. . . .
[I]n his complaint Novel alleges that he was libeled by Garrison's reference to him as a burglar, referring to the so called raid on the munitions bunker in Houma, Louisiana. Yet in the stipulation of uncontested facts it is agreed that Novel voluntarily disclosed to Garrison that he along with others participated in the removal of military munitions from a bunker in Houma, Louisiana. He also offered the fact that he had entered the bunker with the aid of bolt cutters. He was formally charged in the Criminal Court of Orleans Parish, Louisiana with conspiracy to commit simple burglary in connection with the removal of munitions and also in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana with committing simple burglary of the munitions bunker. . . .
As to his involvement in the assassination investigation, Novel voluntarily disclosed his association with David Ferrie whom he knew figured prominently in that investigation. When he received a subpoena requiring him to appear and testify before the Orleans Parish grand jury in connection with the investigation of the assassination, he left New Orleans. It is stipulated that the Criminal District Court for Orleans Parish ordered the arrest of Novel as a material witness in connection with the assassination investigation. . . .
As to his alleged libelous role as a material witness in the Kennedy assassination, again it was Novel himself who, knowing that David Ferrie figured prominently in Garrison's investigation of the assassination, voluntarily disclosed to Garrison that he had associated with Ferrie and others in the munitions raid. He was also subpoenaed to appear before the Orleans Parish grand jury in connection with the investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy. His so-called connections with the CIA also originated with his own voluntarily offered stories. The facts as stipulated also establish that, Novel enthusiastically jumped into the fray with Garrison, offering news media statements about the Garrison investigation. His telegram to Garrison also states that he could testify on various matters including the probable murder of David Ferrie, seditious treason, and other matters that appeared to him to be grist for the Garrison mill (Gordon Novel, Plaintiff, v. Jim Garrison and HMH Publishing Co., Inc., Defendants, No. 67 C 1895, US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, 338 F. Supp. 977; 1971 US Dist. LEXIS 10638, Opinion: Memorandum, Order and Judgment, November 24, 1971; Jerry Shinley, E-mail to author, August 14, 1999).
Novel also claimed to have worked for Guy Banister, but no evidence corroborates this. (See William Davy, Let Justice Be Done, 20-33; somewhat ironically, Davy relies a fair amount on Gus Russo -- described in James DiEugenio's introduction to Davy's book as an "acolyte" of Gerald Posner's," with "blinkers [sic] around his eyes" and/or "plugs in his ears," who specializes in "the fitting of square pegs into round holes" (Davy, xiii) -- for his information about the Houma affair [Davy, 281 fn. 26, 31; 285 fn. 20, 27, 36]. He obscures this by omitting Russo from his index. Drawing selectively upon the available evidence, Davy (following Novel's lead [New Orleans States-Item, April 25, 1967]), dates the Houma raid before the Bay of Pigs, something even Garrison himself did not buy [Davy, 25-6; Garrison: Bill of Indictment for Gordon Novel and Sergio Arcacha Smith, March 31, 1967 (which fixed the date of the heist as August 19, 1961); New Orleans States-Item, April 25, 1967; Brener, 180].) Assistant DA James Alcock told the New Orleans States-Item that the burglary occurred on or about August 21 (New Orleans States-Item, May 25, 1967).
Garrison would later claim -- without citing a source -- that Schlumberger "had been a supporter of the French counter-revolutionary Secret Army Organization (OAS)" (Garrison, 45). Whether true or false, Garrison's belief could explain David "William Torbitt" Copeland's unfounded claim that Jean De Menil and Paul Raigorodsky were financiers of the infamous Permindex corporation, as De Menil was the financial head of Schlumberger, as Paul Raigorodsky testified to the Warren Commission (Warren Commission Hearings Vol. IX, 16). (Permindex reportedly was a source of funds for the OAS.) Garrison also states -- correctly -- that Schlumberger had "close ties with the Central Intelligence Agency" (Garrison, 61) and -- with an unknown degree of accuracy that the "CIA and Schlumberger had a mutual interest in the OAS . . ." (Ibid., 61 fn.)
"As for Permindex," Garrison writes, "which Clay Shaw also served as a director, the Italian press revealed that it had, among other things, secretly financed the opposition of the French Secret Army Organization (OAS) to President De Gaulle's support for independence for Algeria, including its reputed assassination attempts on De Gaulle. This observation, had we known about it in 1967, would have brought us full-circle all the way back to the blimp base in Houma, Louisiana, where David Ferrie and others from Guy Banister's operation repossessed the munitions from the Schlumberger bunker" (Garrison, 103).
Garrison was wrong about Permindex and lying about not having this information in 1967. The Permindex allegations were published in the New Orleans States-Item on April 25, 1967, and the New Orleans Times-Picayune on May 16, 1967. Garrison advocate James DiEugenio writes that Paris Flammonde "was in contact with Garrison throughout the period from Shaw's arrest through the trial," and he also discussed the Permindex allegations at length in his 1968 book on the Garrison investigation, The Kennedy Conspiracy. DiEugenio writes that he asked Flammonde "why the DA did not use this material at the trial. He replied that Garrison believed it did not touch directly on the Dallas-New Orleans events" (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, 372-3 fn. 25, citing his personal interview with Paris Flammonde, February 9, 1992).
176. New Orleans States-Item; May 5, 1967; Rosemary James and Jack Wardlaw, Plot or Politics?, 110-1; Paris Flammonde, The Kennedy Conspiracy, 23; House Select Committee on Assassinations, Outside Contact Report, Vernon Gerdes, January 10, 1978. It was all right, William Turner reports Banister telling an associate, "I have approval from somebody." Turner writes, "The 'somebody,' one can surmise from the Gordon Novel episode which follows, was the CIA" (William W. Turner, "The Garrison Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy," Ramparts, January 1968; see endnote 178).
For anyone who cares to continue to believe that Guy Banister was a gunrunner, Gus Russo has put forward two interesting new claims. One is from Delphine Roberts, who "remembers a hidden panel in the ladies room where some of the armaments were stored" (Russo, 153, citing his personal interview with Delphine Roberts, February 8, 1994). Banister secretary Mary Brengel who recalls "rifles stacked all around his office until the day of the assassination" (Russo, 153, citing his personal interview with Mary Brengel, June 6, 1993).
177. The House Select Committee on Assassinations writes, "Both Ferrie and Banister were implicated in a raid in late 1961 against a munitions depot in Houma, La., in which various weapons, grenades and ammunition were stolen. Banister's role may have been limited to storing the materiel which was reportedly seen stacked in Banister's back room by several witnesses. Others who actually participated in the raid, include Andrew Blackmon, a Ferrie associate and former Civil Air Patrol cadet, and Sergio Arcacha Smith" (House Select Committee, Hearings Vol. X, 112). Others who were on-hand for the incident, either as participants or witnesses were Gordon Novel, Rancier Blaise Ehlinger, Layton Martens, Carlos Lopez, and Marlene Mancuso Novel (David Blackburst, Newsgroup post of January 10, 1999). None of those involved has ever given any indication that Banister had anything to do with the robbery, and none of the accounts of the incident include Banister or suggest his involvement. For the HSCA's sources, see FBI teletype, FOIA material, 62-109060-5237, May 7, 1967; Outside Contact Report, Vernon Gerdes, Jan. 10, 1978, House Select Committee on Assassinations, p. 3 (JFK Document No. 005208); see ref. 68, p. 49; Outside Contact Report, Jack Martin, Dec. 5, 1978, House Select Committee on Assassinations, p. 6 (JFK Document No. 005212). Predictably, Jim Garrison's 1988 memoirs repeatedly refer to the Houma heist as an operation of Banister's (cf. Garrison, 208).
178. The full article used to be posted on-line, but currently there only seems to be a zipped file of three out of four sections. The fourth part is the least significant, however, dealing primarily with the slaying of J. D. Tippit and theories about Jack Ruby.
179. Despite some reports to the contrary, the Houma heist took place well after the Bay of Pigs, probably in September 1961. Gordon Novel's attorney was unable to obtain the date of the burglary from the Schlumberger corporation (New Orleans States-Item, April 25, 1967).
Researcher David Blackburst writes, "There is a lot of confusion about the date of the heist, even on the NODA staff. Novel and Ehlinger both related the date as early September 1961 in 2/67 interviews with NODA and the FBI. Arcacha actually contacted the FBI on 9/18/61 and gave them a very redacted account of the recent incident. The early September date squares nicely with Vernon Gerdes' famous observation of Schlumberger boxes in Banister's office in the September-October 1961 time frame" (David Blackburst, Newsgroup post of March 20, 1999). Blackburst notes that "when Garrison's office first found out about the heist, there was some confusion about the date (which persists to this day), and it was mistakenly dated before the [Bay of Pigs]. In trying to clarify the date, I compared numerous sources, including statements by Novel, Ehlinger, [Marlene] Mancuso (all NODA), Arcacha (FBI) and others, and I am virtually certain that it had to have occurred in the first 2 weeks of September 1961. . . . Garrison's paperwork for the extradition of Arcacha gives the date for the Houma heist (and presumably, the subsequent storage of some of the arms in Ferrie's home on Atherton Drive) as August 21, 1961. This is highly unlikely, as Ferrie's home was searched the next morning by Jefferson Parish deputies in relation to a morals charge" (David Blackburst, Newsgroup post of January 10, 1999). A. J. Weberman writes that "a 'confidential source who has in the past furnished insufficient information to determine reliability' informed the FBI of Sergio Arcacha Smith's activities in September 1961." The informant mentioned he had overheard Arcacha saying "it would be about two weeks before the explosives (which were removed from a munitions bunker in Houma, Louisiana) would arrive in Cuba" (A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11).
180. William W. Turner, "The Garrison Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy," Ramparts, January 1968; see endnote 178. It would later become apparent that the source in question was Banister employee Vernon Gerdes (Outside Contact Report, Vernon Gerdes, Jan. 10, 1978, House Select Committee on Assassinations, JFK Document No. 005208).
181. La Fontaine, 182.
182. La Fontaine, 181.
183. La Fontaine, 181.
184. La Fontaine, 181.
185. La Fontaine, 182.
186. La Fontaine, 182.
187. One shouldn't have to guess about sources, regardless of whether the researchers in question are "serious journalists" or not (as the dust jacket of Oswald Talked declares its authors to be), but it seems likely that the La Fontaines' source is Peter Dale Scott's contention that "Banister had unmistakable links . . . to the mob-tinged arms cache" (Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 89). Scott's sources are discussed in the body of this article.
188. La Fontaine, 182.
189. La Fontaine, 174. Recall the La Fontaines' description of Banister as "a probable gunrunner" (Ibid., 182), printed on the very same page as the flat statement that Banister "had a gunrunning history" (Ibid.) and coming a page after the declaration that the ex-G-man was a member of "the gunrunning New Orleans right wing" (Ibid., 181). Anybody beginning to notice a pattern?
190. Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 88..
191. La Fontaine, 153; Scott, 88; Warren Hinckle and William W. Turner, The Fish Is Red, 199. Hinckle and Turner cite no sources regarding the eleven arrests, but they are amply documented elsewhere; cf. Gus Russo, Live by the Sword, 183-9; or A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 10 and Nodule 12.
192. Lauchli indeed was involved in gunrunning, though the La Fontaines cite no sources for the claim. "Lauchli was also the arms supplier for the provisional Cuban government led by Dr. Paulino Sierra, of Chicago. Sierra's contacts, like [Sam] Benton's and [Mike] McLaney's, went straight to Bobby Kennedy" (Russo, 185). See also A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 10, 75.
193. La Fontaine, 153.
194. CIA report on Lauchli, January 31, 1968; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 10. The La Fontaines note that "Lauchli's fellow Minuteman, John Thomas Masen" is part of their scenario connecting the DRE to a gunrunning operation allegedly involving none other than Jack Ruby (La Fontaine, 222). Lauchli was no longer with the Minutemen in 1963.
195. A confidential informant who had been responsible for tipping off the Miami FBI to a previous arms deal between the same parties reported that "Lauchli is more interested in arms sales as a gun dealer, and he has no emotional feeling about the Cuban exile cause of trying to overthrow the present government in Cuba" (FBI Miami MM 105-1742; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12).
196. La Fontaine, 182.
197. La Fontaine, 174.
198. La Fontaine, 182. For the claim that Banister "was the alleged organizer of the right-wing paramilitary Minutemen in the state of Louisiana," the La Fontaines actually cite three sources. Two of them do not support their claim. The first is the House Select Committee's report, "544 Camp Street and Related Events" (House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 123-36), in which the topics of gunrunning, the Minutemen, and right-wing paramilitary activities are not among those discussed -- except in the case of the Houma heist (Ibid., 127). (Click here to read the report.) The second is Anthony Summers' Conspiracy (1989 ed., 291), which states that Banister was a member "of the paramilitary Minutemen, and is also unsourced.
199. Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 88. Scott is far more resistant to Garrison factoids than the average researcher, but he appears to be the source for some of the La Fontaines' misinformation. See endnote 10.
200. Scott, 329; Warren Hinckle and William W. Turner, The Fish Is Red, 199. Scott gives the page as 199, though 199 only describes the FBI raid itself. The relevant discussion of Banister is on pages 204-5.
201. Hinckle and Turner, 351 fn. 9.
202. Hinckle and Turner, 204-5. The Fish Is Red was later reworked by the authors and published under the title, Deadly Secrets. The Brooks citation appears on page 231 of that book. In 1961, Banister had only been in Louisiana for six years, the first three of which he spent with the police department (NARA 180-10096-10011; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11). Warren Hinckle discusses Turner's investigation of the Minutemen at some length in the Garrison chapter of his memoirs, but does not mention Guy Banister (Warren Hinckle, If You Have a Lemon, Make Lemonade, 231-5).
203. William W. Turner, "The Minutemen: The Spirit of '66," Ramparts, January 1967, 73; Jerry Shinley, E-mail of November 2, 1999. This was picked up by such books as F. Peter Model and Robert J. Groden, JFK: The Case for Conspiracy, which describes Banister as "former head of the FBI's Chicago field office and CIA operative during the 1954 Guatemalan coup . . . involved with the far-right Minutemen . . ." (Model and Groden, 49-50)
Brooks is also the source of another factoid with a long life span. According to Brooks, "Gatlin remarked about 1962, in a self-important manner, that he had $100,000 of CIA money earmarked for a French right-wing clique that was going to attempt to assassinate General de Gaulle; shortly afterward Gatlin flew to Paris" (Turner, Ibid.). That Gatlin had funds for the OAS seems quite possible; that it came from the CIA is all but inconceivable (see endnote 143). A more likely candidate for the source of the funds would be one of Gatlin's Latin American, ardently anti-Communist clients, such as Anastosio Somoza of Nicaragua.
204. William W. Turner, "The Minutemen: The Spirit of '66," Ramparts, January 1967, 73; Jerry Shinley, E-mail of November 2, 1999.
205. Tad Szulc, Compulsive Spy, 67-9. Garrison advocates being nothing if not tenacious, attempts have been made to link Banister to one of the CIA officers behind the Arbenz overthrow, future Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt, through Banister's connection to Sergio Arcacha Smith of the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC). However, by both Hunt's own account (in Give Us This Day) and that of biographer Tad Szulc, it was a dispute over CRC leadership at the time of its formation that prompted Hunt to withdraw from his work with the Cuban exiles (Szulc, 93). By Szulc's account, however, Hunt's connection to the exiles was not officially severed until March 1961, while Sergio Arcacha Smith arrived in New Orleans in November 1960 and probably met Banister the following month (House Select Committee Hearings, Vol. X, 61), leaving a slight window of opportunity. We know now, however, that Arcacha worked far more closely with the Justice Department than the CIA (Russo, 141-53, 408-10). If anything, Russo overstates Arcacha's connection to the CIA, and even mistakenly states at one point that Howard Hunt worked closely with "Sergio Arcacha Smith's Cuban Revolutionary Council" (Russo, 453). Russo may be confusing the CRC with the umbrella organization to which it belonged, the Frente Revolutionario Democratico (FRD), and with which Hunt indeed worked very closely from its inception in May 1960 through the beginning of the following year (House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 57; Szulc, 83-93) See the discussion of Arcacha and the CIA elsewhere in this article.
Garrison advocate Bill Davy writes, "It does not seem unreasonable that Hunt would visit the offices of the CRC and therefore be acquainted with Banister" -- who was not connected to the CRC -- "especially in light of Gatlin's and Banister's association with the Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean and their peripheral (at a minimum) role with Hunt and [CIA officer David Atlee] Phillips in the CIA's ouster of the Arbenz government of Guatemala" (William Davy, Let Justice Be Done, 284 fn. 7). Davy, unsurprisingly, cites no source for these claims.
206. A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11.
207. House Select Committee on Assassinations, Hearings Vol. X, 483; FBI 62-103863-13; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11, 8.
208. A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11. As Garrison advocates will no doubt persist with this factoid, I humbly submit a sinister "connection" between the Anti-Communist League and the 1954 Guatemalan coup, even if it is admittedly no more factual than any currently bandied about. All may feel free to incorporate it into newsgroup posts, anonymously circulated manuscripts, and/or ultra-right-wing newsletters until it is eventually picked up by "mainstream" JFK conspiracy authors, and maybe even a major motion picture. Consider it my way of "giving something back" to the Garrisonite research community.
Warren Hinckle and William Turner write that Maurice Gatlin "was counsel to the ACL of the Caribbean as well as a member of the steering committee of the umbrella World ACL . . ." (Hinckle and Turner, Deadly Secrets, 231). The CIA's replacement for Arbenz was future Central America death squad king, Mario Sandoval Alarcon, described by Jack Anderson in 1984 as "a pillar of the World Anti-Communist League" (Washington Post, January 30, 1984). Researchers should feel free, then, to connect Guy Banister and any associates of his, real or imagined, to the Central American death squads; just don't mention that Gatlin's Anti-Communist League was a paper organization founded three months too late, Banister was still in Chicago, Gatlin's role in the coup was limited to that of Covert Operations Nonentity (CON), Northern Wannabe Division, and the WACL referenced by Hinckle and Turner was not founded until 1966, (David E. Kaplan, Fires of the Dragon: Politics, Murder, and the Kuomintang, 215-6), by which time Banister and Gatlin were both dead.
209. Banister had "ties" to the CIA, the La Fontaines assure us (La Fontaine, 159), not to mention the fact that he was "up to his ears in US intelligence and anti-Castro associations" (Ibid., 149).
210. In August 1960, the CIA briefly considered using Banister's office as a cover of some sort. Interest was "dropped upon receipt of an unfavorable report from the field" (CIA memorandum 1338-1052, March 8, 1967; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11, 15). He could possibly have been considered an asset in January 1961, however, when he incorporated the short-lived (four weeks) Friends of Democratic Cuba, ostensibly to raise funds for Arcacha's delegation of the CRC (CIA 1320-484, 1357-506, 1338-1052, 1363-501; House Select Committee Hearings, Vol. X, 110; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11).
Brooks is inserting both Banister and the Anti-Communist League into Maurice Gatlin's 1953-54 activities; Brooks also seems to be greatly exaggerating Gatlin's significance. Gatlin was aware of the upcoming coup, having been contacted in May 1953 by Guatemalan exile Colonel Roberto Barrios y Pena, who was seeking additional support. He would also claim to have met Castillo Armas, a Guatemalan Colonel in exile heading a 150-man "Army of Liberation" training in Nicaragua, in New Orleans in January 1954. Whatever his connections, however, Gatlin seems to have been woefully unsuccessful in scraping up assistance for the rebels (FBI files on Maurice Brooks Gatlin, Sr., 64-29230; Jerry Shinley, Newsgroup post of June 14, 1999). The Colonel told Gatlin and the FBI that he had participated in previous failed coups, and was in exile with "a price of $20,000 on his head if he returned to that country." Nothing came of this meeting, and Shinley writes, "Everyone else involved was a bit perplexed as to why Gatlin had chosen to involve the FBI in his introduction to the Colonel . . ." Gatlin told the FBI privately that the Colonel "planned to overthrow the government of Guatemala by force of arms, in the 'next few weeks.'" "According to a CIA document dated June 26, 1953, 'After leaving the FBI offices, BARRIOS and GATLIN met with a Mr. DUNBAR, who occasionally represents the United Fruit Co. in New Orleans. They asked for one million dollars from the United Fruit Co., in support of BARRIOS' intended revolutionary movement in Guatemala, but they were unsuccessful in obtaining any commitment.'"
On June 25, 1953, the FBI was contacted by a retired Army officer designated P-1. Shinley writes, "P-1 said that Gatlin had approached him with a shopping list of armaments, which included three P-38 fighters and three P-51 fighters, along with ammunition. Gatlin said he was acting on behalf of an unnamed Colonel (undoubtedly, Barrios y Pena) who was planning an anti-Communist revolution in Guatemala. Gatlin asked P-1 if he knew General Claire Chennault. P-1 replied that he did, and concluded that Gatlin assumed that P-1 could obtain the weapons through Chennault. P-1 was inclined to throw Gatlin out of his office, but decided to play along to learn what Gatlin was up to. Gatlin offered P-1 oil and mineral concessions in Guatemala after the revolution. Gatlin proposed to introduce P-1 to the Colonel, and P-1 asked the FBI whether he should go ahead with the meeting. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Customs had jurisdiction over Neutrality Act cases. [The New Orleans field office] had to contact the Bureau in Washington to get permission to hand P-1 over to Customs. The permission was obtained, but nothing substantial came of the Customs investigation, possibly because of the clumsiness of the hand over of P-1 to Customs" (Ibid.).
"Colonel Barrios y Pena's role in the June 1954 uprising included firing off a letter from New Orleans to President Arbenz. The letter, dated May 18, warned Arbenz that he did not have the 'right to take the country to civil war. If you survive, the spilled blood will fall on you and your family.' The Colonel made the letter public in New Orleans on June 19, 1954, while the uprising was still in progress. Barrios y Pena had no comment to questions about whether he favored the success of Castillo Armas or whether he felt that Castillo Armas had "the welfare of the people of Guatemala at heart" (New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 20, 1954; Jerry Shinley, Newsgroup post of June 14, 1999).
Shinley notes that on January 13, 1954, "GATLIN stated he was requesting the FBI to offer the services of its Laboratory to make 100 twelve inch long playing records of Col. PENA's speeches for distribution throughout Guatemala to 'aid the fight.'" Gatlin estimated the cost to the Bureau to be about six hundred dollars. "The jurisdiction of the FBI was carefully pointed out to GATLIN and he was informed that such a request appeared to be entirely divorced from the purposes and aims of this organization. GATLIN replied that 'being faced with an enemy in its own backyard' the FBI should not consider matters like jurisdiction. At his continued insistence, he was advised that his request would be made known to this Bureau but that he should expect no favorable action to be taken. No further action re this matter is contemplated by this office" (FBI files on Maurice Brooks Gatlin, Sr., 64-29230; Jerry Shinley, Newsgroup post of June 14, 1999).
"On March 3, 1954, Gatlin requested a short-wave transmitter from the FBI to permit Barrios to communicate with his contacts in Central America. He did not want to deal with the FCC, because it was 'infiltrated with a bunch of Communists.' Gatlin also provided the FBI with a mass of information and supposition about Latin American affairs. 'At this point, it was pointed out to Gatlin that all the information furnished by him concerning Latin American countries was under the jurisdiction of the Central Intelligence Agency and/or the State Department. He stated that he did not care to deal with the Central Intelligence Agency because as far as he was concerned, they were on probation, and that their predecessor, OSS, was thoroughly infiltrated by Communists'" (Ibid.).
The New Orleans FBI stated that "Gatlin is prone to distort information and report as fact his own conclusions. His modus operandi is to telephone this office and state as a fact such conclusions and then decline to furnish specifics on the telephone or come to the office for interview. When agents thereafter contact him in his office it is invariably found that the information upon which his conclusions were based either does not support the conclusion or is not susceptible to independent verification. He is an egotistical individual who fancies himself to be an expert on Latin American affairs and he characterizes himself as the 'unofficial ambassador' to Guatemala. Discreet inquiries concerning his reliability merely reflect he is untrustworthy, sly, shrewd and unscrupulous, but the fact remains that he is member in good standing of the Louisiana Bar and isa practicing attorney. The New Orleans Office in the future intends to refer GATLIN to the Central Intelligence Agency representative, with whom he is acquainted and to whom he has furnished some information. Every effort will be made to avoid contacts with him, but it is expected he will continue to call this office as in the past" (Ibid.).
A. J. Weberman writes:
Confidential Informant NO T-6 advised the FBI on April 27, 1957, that "he has known Maurice Gatlin for more than 20 years and has never had a good opinion of him. Gatlin is tricky and is personal coward. He is not well regarded by the other lawyers in New Orleans, and is considered a 'shyster of the first order.' His conduct as a member of the bar has never been considered normal. The fact that Gatlin lately has been distributing material, which for practical purposes is pro-Trujillo propaganda, leads to the supposition that he might be getting some money from the Dominican Government. However, the fact that Gatlin is absolutely crazy might account for his spending his own money in that regard. NO T-6 stated that he had no knowledge that Gatlin is, or has been, on the payroll of any foreign government. The informant related that he made it his business to look into the Anti-Communist Committee of the Americas, and he had been unable to find a single person in New Orleans or in Latin America who is connected with it other than Gatlin. The informant advised that he is convinced that Gatlin suffers from hallucinations since there is no other explanation for most of his actions (A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11).
Confidential Informant NO T-10 advised on April 26, 1957, that prior to October 1954, he was in frequent contact with Maurice Gatlin for a year or more. Gatlin was a self-proclaimed expert on Latin American affairs. He also considered himself a real student of the communist movement and an implacable enemy of communism. Being an extremely egotistical person, Gatlin's attitude was that he knew far more about both matters than did the State Department or the FBI (Ibid.).
On June 10, 1958, the FBI concluded: On the basis of data appearing in this and previously reports, Gatlin's mental instability seems to be well established...He would not appear to warrant further serious investigative attention and this case is therefore being closed (Doc. No. 64-29230-92; Ibid.).
By September 1960 Maurice Gatlin was involved in anti-Castro activities, and he supplied two Southern Senators with information on jeep shipments to Fidel Castro: "Maurice Brooks Gatlin, General Counsel, Anti-Communist League of the Americas, a long time Castro antagonist, and Guy Banister, a former FBI agent and President of the Anti-Communist group, claimed that about 100 Jeeps were sent to Cuba through New Orleans in recent months under invoices marked as 'agricultural equipment'" (Ibid.).
In early January 1961 Maurice Gatlin ran an agent who later advised the FBI: "I attended two meetings of the anti-Castro group in New Orleans known as the Cuban Revolutionary Front, at the request of Mr. Gatlin, for the purpose of learning if they were truly anti-Castro, or if there appeared to be anyone attending who was not genuinely anti-Castro." This man might have been Edward S. Suggs [aka Jack S. Martin]. The CIA advised the FBI in January 1961 that the New Orleans representative of the Cuban Revolutionary Front, Sergio Arcacha Smith, "may have furnished the data to Banister because of Banister's alleged connection with Maurice Gatlin, who heads the Anti-Communist Committee of the Americas in New Orleans, which publishes the Caribbean Newsletter. Gatlin's mental instability appears to be well established, and he has been described by one source as insane. Gatlin has described Banister in the newsletter as 'a former FBI agent and president of the Anti-Communist group.'" The FBI believed that Sergio Arcacha Smith had furnished data about the Cuban Revolutionary Front to Guy Banister who in turn supplied it to Gatlin. The Cuban Revolutionary Front was described as "an anti-Castro organization receiving the CIA's covert support" (FBI 105-87912-159; Ibid.). Maurice Gatlin gave the FBI a press release dated February 1, 1961, which attacked the Cuban Revolutionary Front. "Confidential. Note: The following is an exact duplication of a letter dated January 10, 1961, relative to the various organizations now working in the United States to overthrow the Castro Government. The source will be revealed on request and at my discretion. The letter is from one of the most experienced and knowledgeable of Cuban Ex-Intelligence Agents: 'I received your letter in relation to the activities of the Cuban Revolutionary Front in that city and am very pleased to inform you that this is one of the organizations that has come into being against Castro. They have had the luck of receiving good economic assistance from groups of North Americans and officials of that country. For this reason they look to be more important and they are able to maintain agents in many places. None of this group that today raise the banner of anti-Communism have heretofore concerned themselves with fighting Soviet Imperial Communism nor do they have any Anti-Communist background. Dr. Varona, Coordinator of this movement, is an old Cuban politician. He comes from the Authentic Party that was under the leadership of Dr. Carlos Prio. He has never been a Communist, nor has he ever been an anti-Communist. He appears to be a well-intentioned, although he is surrounded by many individuals who display a completely negative character. Manuel Artime was a member of the Rebel Army with Fidel Castro and was at his side for a long time; and, one day he left, arrived in Miami and proclaimed himself an Anti-Communist. He was accepted here and here he is. He is one of those who contributed to the coming of communism in Cuba." Sanchez Arrango was accused of being pro-Communist. The press release ended: "Note: The writer of the above mentioned letter is not motivated by 'sour grapes'; he is a man with long years of intelligence experience behind him and a journalist of note. He is a professional of the highest type, dedicated to fighting communism in our hemisphere, and an expert in how to do so. Wasting such professional ability while encouraging 'Johnny-come-latelies,' who not only have no experience, but are or may be interested only in taking over the power now held by Communist puppet Castro" (FBI 105-87912-191; Ibid.).
On February 7, 1961, the FBI in New Orleans generated a Letter Head Memorandum about the "Frente Revolutionario Democratico (FRD) aka Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front, Cuban Revolutionary Front, Friends of Democratic Cuba. (Paragraph Deleted) (Deleted) in response to inquiry, stated that he has never heard of an organization known as the Anti-Communist Committee of the Americas, nor did he have any information indicating that Guy Banister might possibly be a member of such organization. (Deleted) also states that he does not know anyone named Maurice Gatlin who is allegedly an officer in the Anti-Communist Committee of the Americas" (2 pages w/h FBI 105-87912-182, pp. 2-4; Ibid.). On April 9, 1961, the FBI, in a document captioned Cuban Revolutionary Front, stated: "(Deleted) Its representative in New Orleans is Sergio Arcacha Smith, a former Cuban official. . . . Memorandum also noted possibility (Deleted) connected with Maurice Gatlin, head of the anti-Communist Committee of the Americas, whose mental instability appears to be well established. (Deleted)" (FBI 64-27230 NR 167, February 14, 1961; Ibid.).
On February 3, 1961, Guy Banister was questioned about Maurice Gatlin: "Banister stated that he is not a member, nor an officer, of the group known as the Anti-Communist Committee of the Americas. He explained that in connection with his investigating business, he had done some work for Maurice Gatlin, who is the general counsel of the Anti-Communist Committee of the Americas. He stated that he had learned of the existence of some surplus war equipment such as jeeps and trucks that were located on the riverfront in New Orleans, which were allegedly scheduled to be shipped to Cuba. He furnished this information to Gatlin, and charged for his services $1.00. He stated that this is the extent of his relationship and contact with the Anti-Communist Committee of the Americas. He added that any publication of Gatlin, or the Anti-Communist Committee of the Americas, reflecting him as an officer, was undoubtedly an impulsive act of Maurice Gatlin which did not have either his consent or his approval. He stated he has not seen any publication indicating that he is an officer in the Anti-Communist Committee of the Americas. Banister then related that he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Democratic Cuba, Inc. which he describes as a charitable organization chartered under the laws of the State of Louisiana whose primary purpose is to lend assistance to some 50 young Cuban girls who are political exiles and who were in need of material and financial assistance" (FBI 105-87912-182; Ibid.).
211. FBI agent Warren de Brueys contacted various informants about the Inter-American Confederation for the Defense of the Continent, but none was familiar with it (Ibid.).
FBI 62-10906057, p. 22; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11, 18.
212. FBI 89-43-6097, 6098; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11, 18.
213. In the court case United States of America, Plaintiff, v. Robert Bolivar DePugh et al., Defendants (Nos. 22263-4, United States District Court W. D. Missouri, W. D., Jan. 17, 1967; click here for information), Brooks testified that he had suggested to Robert B. DePugh, the Minutemen's national coordinator, that cyanide be put in the air-conditioning of the General Assembly Building of the United Nations in New York City, and he offered to purchase ten gallons of potassium cyanide for $56. According to Brooks, a member of the Minutemen who wasa New York State Policeman would use his credentials to gain entrance to the basement of the United Nations General Assembly Building. Brooks said Robert DePugh suggested the group assassinate Senator J. W. Fulbright (Dem.-AK). He testified the Minutemen were in possession of unregistered automatic firearms and silencers. Robert DePugh was convicted, and sentenced to four years in prison (New York Times, November 9, 1966; May 2, 1967; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11, 18).
A. J. Weberman writes:
On March 15, 1967, Frank Belecky, area supervisor of the Kansas City, Missouri, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, advised the FBI that Jerry Milton Brooks had become somewhat of a problem to the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Office recently "in that he apparently wants to do something to gain attention or notoriety. He recently attempted to make contact with Robert DePugh by stating to an individual in contact with DePugh that he, Brooks, had information which would 'blow the government's Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms case against DePugh wide open.' Belecky further stated that for the past week or so he has had Brooks come to his office each morning and remain there until evening in order to keep him out of trouble" (FBI 89-43-6097, 6098; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11, 18).
214. Ramparts publisher Warren Hinckle, who was thoroughly familiar with both the Minutemen and Brooks, refers to both of these plans in his 1974 memoirs, but claims they were renegade operations, conducted without DePugh's knowledge (Hinckle, If You Have a Lemon, Make Lemonade, 232).
CIA 40474, January 18, 1968; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 11, 18.
215. Russo, 140, citing his personal interview with Delphine Roberts, February 8, 1994. Banister secretary Mary Brengel confirms both Roberts' reaction and Banister's response, adding that "although I was not a follower of President Kennedy, I respected his office, and I think most conservatives did. We wouldn't get out and want him assassinated" (Russo, 541 fn. 26, citing his personal interview with Mary Brengel, June 6, 1993).
216. Russo, 541 fn. 26, citing his personal interview with Mary Brengel, June 6, 1993.
217. Russo, 140, citing his personal interview with Delphine Roberts, February 8, 1994. Banister secretary Mary Brengel confirms both Roberts' reaction and Banister's response, adding that "although I was not a follower of President Kennedy, I respected his office, and I think most conservatives did. We wouldn't get out and want him assassinated" (Russo, 541 fn. 26, citing his personal interview with Mary Brengel, June 6, 1993).
218. Russo, 140, citing his personal interview with Delphine Roberts, February 8, 1994.
219. Russo, 140, citing his personal interview with Delphine Roberts, February 8, 1994.
220. Russo, 140, citing his personal interview with Delphine Roberts, February 8, 1994.
221. The La Fontaines advance another possible Oswald "connection" to the McLaney cache, which seems far-fetched even by their standards. They write:
The name Francisco Silva was not mentioned by any of the witnesses in their 1967-69 pre-trial statements or 1969 Shaw trial testimony, though "Dr. Frank Silva" does appear once in Richard Billings' contemporaneous notes; the source for the name is not given, except for the notation that NODA investigator Lynn Loisel had somehow "determined" that Oswald had lived with Silva for a time. (This could hardly help the State's case, and unsurprisingly was dropped.).
Fermin de Goicochea Sanchez had a connection to Silvia [Odio] other than through Sarita. His brother-in-law was a "Cuban doctor," Manuel Balbona, a Ph.D. psychologist at the Terrell state mental hospital. Isabelle Collora, a social worker and influential Catholic in the Dallas area (who introduced Marianne Rahmes to the Castorrs) told Mary [La Fontaine] in March 1995 that a large group of Cuban doctors was employed at Terrell. It included de Goicochea's brother-in-law and a Dr. Cowley. In her Warren Commission interview Silvia testified that she initially came to Dallas to be treated by a Cuban "Dr. Cowley" at Terrell. Interestingly, Oswald too had an alleged link to a Cuban doctor. A number of persons in Clinton, Louisiana believed Oswald may have stayed for a period of time with Dr. Francisco Silva, who was employed at Jackson State Mental Hospital [sic] near Clinton. Dr. Silva has been tied by some conspiracy theorists to the DRE [sic] arms cache at Lake Pontchartrain (La Fontaine, 428 fn.).
The La Fontaines do not explain how Silva has been linked to the arms cache. Silva's name does not even rate a listing in Walt Brown's Global Index to the Assassination of JFK, a CD-ROM indexing 17,185 names in one hundred prominent JFK assassination books as well as the full Warren Commission Hearings volumes and Report, and the full House Select Committee Hearings volumes and Final Report.
222. La Fontaine, 7.
223. La Fontaine, 352. Earlier they write, "Indeed, Oswald's informant file, seen by former FBI employee William S. Walter, identified Oswald as a Bureau informant on the DRE's Pontchartrain arms cache" (Ibid., 310).
224. La Fontaine, 300-10.
225. La Fontaine, 6, 300-9. The La Fontaines theorize that Oswald also happened to be the informant whose information was the source of this teletype. Considering that "The case against Lee Harvey Oswald is stronger than most conspiracy theorists will concede," "in some ways even stronger" than it seemed in 1963 (Ibid., 367), it's far from clear why Oswald would have tipped off the FBI in advance. Then again, given that "The case against Oswald was, from its inception, a house of cards" (Ibid., 50), perhaps he really was a patsy after all.
226. La Fontaine, 352.
227. La Fontaine, 181, 296, 301-2.
228. For some reason, Garrison never obtained a written statement from Walter, and Mark Lane doesn't seem to have kept any record of his conversations with the witness, so it cannot be definitively stated whether or not Walter mentioned Oswald's alleged informant status at that time. Garrison publicized Walter's teletype allegation, but never so much as hinted at any other revelation Walter might have made.
229. La Fontaine, 310, see also 154, 166, 300-9, 352, 391.
230. FBI from SSCIA 157-10007-10104, NARA 124-10236-10075, cited at A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12. FBI Report of William Mayo Drew, Jr., August 8, 1963, p. 2, NARA 180-10076-10241, cited in Jerry Shinley, newsgroup post of August 23, 2001.
231. La Fontaine, 300-8.
232. La Fontaine, 300-8.
233. La Fontaine, 300.
234. Steve Bochan interview of FBI SA James Hosty, November 21, 1996. Hosty, ironically, is one of the La Fontaines' suspects -- they believe he was "running" Oswald in Dallas (La Fontaine, 181).
235. La Fontaine, 306.
236. House Select Committee on Assassinations Final Report, 192.
237. Garrison, 256. Garrison writes, "In 1976, Walter gave a copy of the text of the FBI telex to the Senate Intelligence Committee chaired by Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania." He then states that Mark Lane obtained a copy for him under the Freedom of Information Act. Either Garrison has the source wrong or Walter gave Schweiker's committee a separate copy. Neither possibility bodes well for the La Fontaines' theory.
238. Garrison, 257. Garrison advocate Bill Davy quotes the Walter reconstruction as warning that "a military revolutionary group may attempt to assassinate President Kennedy . . ." (William Davy, Let Justice Be Done, 287 fn. 13). Davy also cites Walter's House committee testimony. Davy, who endorses Walter's story and devotes a chapter of his book to "The Cuban Problem," does not mention anything about a "Cuban faction" in these documents. F. Peter Model and Robert Groden's JFK: The Case for Conspiracy paraphrases the reconstruction and quotes Walter's "militant revolutionary group" verbatim, but does not note anything about a "Cuban faction" (Model and Groden, 13). Dr. Charles Crenshaw's JFK: Conspiracy of Silence paraphrases the reconstruction and quotes several passages, including the "militant revolutionary group," but again, no mention of a "Cuban faction" (Charles A. Crenshaw, MD, with Jens Hansen and J. Gary Shaw, 42).
The House Select Committee writes:
Walter admitted that he did not publicly allege the existence of this telephone until 1968. At that time, the FBI instituted an investigation that failed to find any corroboration for Walter's story. According to the Bureau, no record of a teletype or any other kind of communication reporting that there would be an attempt to assassinate President Kennedy in Texas could be found. Over 50 FBI employees of the New Orleans FBI office were interviewed by the Bureau, and none of them stated that they had any knowledge of any such teletype.
Walter advised the committee that he did not know of anyone who could definitely substantiate his teletype allegation, although he suggested that his former wife, Sharon Covert, who also had worked for the FBI in New Orleans, might be able to do so. Sharon Covert, however, advised the committee that she could not support any of Walter's allegations against the FBI and that Walter had never mentioned his allegations to her during their marriage.
More fundamentally, however, the committee was led to distrust Walter's account of the assassination teletype because of his claim that it had been addressed to the special agents in charge of every FBI field office. The committee found it difficult to believe that such a message could have been sent without someone 15 years later -- a special agent in charge or an employee who might have seen the teletype -- coming forward in support of Walter's claim. The committee declined to believe that that many employees of the FBI would have remained silent for such a long time. Instead, the committee was led to question Walter's credibility. The committee concluded that Walter's allegations were unfounded (House Select Committee on Assassinations Final Report, 192).
In Reasonable Doubt, Henry Hurt writes that the House Select Committee "concluded that Walter was not a credible witness. Based on several contacts with Walter, this author concurs" (Hurt, 306 fn.). Not a single person or document has ever corroborated any of William Walter's stories. (Walters claims that he and former FBI employee Tom McCurley discussed the alleged warning teletype "in the days immediately following the assassination" [La Fontaine, 303-4]. McCurley doesn't recall such a conversation [Ibid., 304].)
239. ZR Rifle documentary (Nei Sroulevich, producer), based on Claudia Furiati's ZR Rifle: The Plot to Kill Kennedy and Castro, cited in La Fontaine, 222.
240. La Fontaine, 222.
241. La Fontaine, 422 fn. 86.
242. Read the full interview here.
243. A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12; see endnotes 48, 49, 131.
244. House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 81.
245. NARA FBI 124-10236-10075; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12; Russo, 184. The only effect the raid seems to have had was prolonging the life of the Shell Oil Refinery. On January 3, 1964, the US Department of Justice, Internal Security Division, "advised that since the plan of the Subjects to undertake an aerial attack on Cuba was effectively thwarted by the seizure of the material criminal action in this matter was not being contemplated at that time" (NARA FBI 124-10236-10075; A. J. Weberman Web site, Nodule 12).
246. House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 74.
247. A. J. Weberman's Web site has a great deal of information posted on the subject. See also House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X.
248. Oliver Stone's JFK would take it a step farther, actually depicting David Ferrie -- dubiously linked to the MDC camp -- being arrested in connection with an FBI raid.
249. La Fontaine, 342.
250. La Fontaine, 342.
251. La Fontaine, 339. James DiEugenio postulates a similar role for Gordon Novel (DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, 134-9).
252. La Fontaine, 342.
253. La Fontaine, 345.
254. See daily issues of the New Orleans States-Item and New Orleans Times-Picayune. Beginning in mid February, scarcely a day goes by without mention of the latest developments in the DA's probe. Many witnesses are mentioned as having appeared for questioning, usually without any comment at all from the witnesses about why they had been subpoenaed. Some genuinely didn't know -- for example, the various people named "Oswald" who found themselves before the Grand Jury with nothing to say.
255. La Fontaine, 345.
256. Russo, 408-9.
257. See for example New Orleans States-Item, May 5, 1967; Ibid., May 6, 1967.; Ibid., May 23, 1967.
258. Warren Commission Exhibit No. 1414 (Warren Commission Hearings Vol. XXII, 828-30). "Arcacha moved from New Orleans to Miami in October 1962, and from Miami to Houston in January 1963, and took a job as an air conditioning salesman in March 1963" (House Select Committee Statement of Mrs. Sergio Arcacha Smith, undated; David Blackburst, Newsgroup post of November 29, 1997).
259. La Fontaine, 345
260. La Fontaine, 345.
261. La Fontaine, 345.
262. La Fontaine, 243-4.
263. New Orleans States-Item, May 23, 1967.
264. Garrison targeted such Arcacha associates as Carlos Quiroga (see endnote 56) and Layton Martens (cf. New Orleans States-Item, May 8, 1967; Ibid., May 23, 1967; Russo, 410-1).
265. Brener, 183.
266. Brener, 183.
267. New Orleans States-Item, May 8, 1967; $5,000: Brener, 184.
268. Russo, 410. Arcacha was also libeled in any number of periodicals at the time, and has been named as an assassination suspect in conspiracy books ever since -- including, of course, that of the La Fontaines.
269. La Fontaine, 342. The La Fontaines refer to Clay Shaw as a "paid asset of the CIA" (Ibid., 391), when the HSCA determined that Shaw had never received so much as a single dime from the CIA (HSCA notes on Clay Shaw's CIA file, referring to "2/10/69--TWX #0002 to contacts/Washington, 10/13/67" [Record No. 180-10143-10221, CIA Segregated Collection, Box 19]; Patricia Lambert, False Witness, 325 fn. 14).
270. For further information on Clay Shaw and the CIA, please see part four of my article, "Who Speaks for Clay Shaw?" The La Fontaines also claim that Guy Banister had "ties" to the CIA (La Fontaine, 159), and that Dave Ferrie was a "government intelligence operative" (Ibid., 187). Their sources for these claims? They don't say.
271. Victor Marchetti and John Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, 1989 ed., 199. For a detailed discussion of Shaw and the Domestic Contact Service, please see my article "Fair Play for Clay Shaw?"
272. Please see part four of my article, "Who Speaks for Clay Shaw?"
273. Warren Commission Exhibit No. 1414 (Warren Commission Hearings Vol. XXII, 828-30); House Select Committee on Assassinations, Hearings, Vol. X, 62; New Orleans States-Item, May 5, 1967; David Blackburst, Newsgroup posts of November 29, 1997, and November 12, 1998.
274. La Fontaine, 148.
275. Russo, 141.
276. Russo, 141. See also House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 55-9.
277. Russo, 141, citing House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 127.
278. Russo, 141-2.
279. Russo, 142. At this point in the text, some editing is required. Russo writes, "To newsmen in the 1960s, Arcacha used to claim he received funds from the State Department and say he was under the Department's thumb. That was in public; in private, he called it the CIA" (Russo, 142, citing Lou Ivon, Memorandum, based on an interview with Richard Rolfe, January 13, 1968). Arcacha was a CIA asset, but not a contract agent or employee of the Agency. Russo's source is a hearsay account from Garrison associate Richard Rolfe, best known for his brief cameos in James Kirkwood's American Grotesque. Russo continues, "He even occasionally admitted he was working for the CIA" (Ibid., citing CIA document 1363-501, October 26, 1967). This is another hearsay account, but even if accurate, it would only make Arcacha one of at least a half-dozen witnesses in Garrison's investigation who claimed to have worked for the CIA at one time or another, none of whom did. (A genuine early-model Marvel No-Prize to the first person who can name the others.) CIA internal memoranda released under the Freedom of Information Act and the JFK Records Act show that the Agency knew Arcacha only as the FRD delegate in New Orleans (CSCI-3/764,414; CIA 1435-492-AD; A. J. Weberman Web site). Some confusion has arisen because of the FBI's suspicion that Arcacha was working for the CIA, based on CIA support for the Council (FBI 62-109060-4707, 4542; A. J. Weberman Web site).
280. Russo, 142, citing Dick Billings' Internal Memo, Life Magazine, April 1967.
281. Russo, 142. Russo writes, "There are a host of conceivable ways for the introduction to have occurred: first, through any one of a number of exile leaders who were mutual acquaintances of both RFK and Arcacha, such as Artime and Ray. Secondly, the papers of Mayor [Chep] Morrison, also Bobby's good friend, reflect a friendship with the mayor and Arcacha. Arcacha once gave Morrison a certificate of appreciation from the local CRC chapter for his help with the exiles. Finally, the local FBI agents Warren de Brueys and Ernest Wall acted as liaisons between the Cubans and Washington, and could have facilitated the introductions" (Russo, 541-2, fn. 35).
282. Russo, 142, citing New York Times, April 7, 1967.
283. Russo, 142, citing his personal interview with Ronnie Caire, New Orleans District Attorney's office, January 23, 1997.
284. Russo, 142, citing New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 11, 1967.
285. Russo, 142.
286. Russo, 142, citing his personal interview with Sergio Arcacha Smith, May 14, 1994.
287. Russo, 143, citing his personal interview with Sergio Arcacha Smith, May 14, 1994.
288. Russo, 143, citing his personal interview with Sergio Arcacha Smith, October 12, 1994 (see Russo, 410, 578 fn. 56).
289. Russo, 143, citing New Orleans Times-Picayune, January 5, 1961.
290. Russo, 143, citing New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 11, 1961.
291. Russo, 143, citing New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 18, 1961.
292. Russo, 143.
293. New Orleans Times-Picayune, December 22, 1960; Jerry Shinley, Newsgroup post of April 1, 1999.
294. Warren Commission Exhibit No. 1414 (Warren Commission Hearings Vol. XXII, 828-30).
295. Ibid. The CRC began renting office space in the Newman Building sometime in October 1961, and Arcacha was gone by mid January 20, 1962, when Luis Ravel replaced him as the Council's New Orleans delegate. By mid February, the CRC had vacated its office at 544 Camp.
296. Russo, 143-4, citing his personal interview with Sergio Arcacha Smith, May 14, 1994. Arcacha is confusing the chronology here, as Ferrie had ceased his activities with the CRC shortly before the October 1961 move to the Newman Building. Ferrie was never even aware that for three months, Arcacha worked out of an office around the corner from Guy Banister and Associates (FBI Report of interview with David Ferrie, November 27, 1963).
297. Russo, 409.
298. Russo, 409, citing FBI Memo, file 62-10960.
299. See Layton Martens, Interview with HSCA investigator William Brown, January 24, 1978.
300. See Russo, 136-37, 145-50
301. Russo, 410, 578 fn. 59.
302. Russo, 409, citing his personal interview with Sergio Arcacha Smith, May 14, 1994.
303. Russo, 410, citing his personal interview with Sergio Arcacha Smith, May 14, 1994.
304. Russo, 141, citing his personal interview with Sergio Arcacha Smith, May 14, 1994. Russo adds, "After much prodding, Arcacha, who considers his relationship with Bobby both private and personal, produced the tie-clip from its hiding place and showed it to the author" (Russo, 578 fn. 57).
305. New Orleans States-Item, April 25, 1967; May 3, 1967, see also Garrison, 209. Neither the alleged arms burglary in Houma, Louisiana, nor its plotting took place in Orleans Parish.
306. The only "evidence" ever advanced for Arcacha's complicity is the allegation that Arcacha was one of two men purportedly seen two days prior to the assassination in the company of a woman known to researchers as Rose Cheramie. Cheramie, who died in 1965, is alleged to have possessed foreknowledge of the John F. Kennedy assassination, though she herself is not reported to have claimed any first-hand knowledge of the crime. Whether Cheramie -- who claimed to have known both Oswald and Ruby, and said the two were lovers -- would have made a significant witness is irrelevant to any discussion of Sergio Arcacha Smith. Arcacha's photograph was identified by bar owner Mac Manual in 1967 as one of the men who had been with Cheramie on November 20, 1963, in Eunice, Louisiana; according to Cheramie herself, she and the two men had been en route to Miami to pick up a shipment of narcotics. Arcacha was home in Houston, Texas, the entire week of November 18-22, according to statements from both his employer, Calvin Clausel, and Arcacha's wife (Calvin Clausel, Letter of June 8, 1967; Mrs. Sergio Arcacha Smith, House Select Committee Statement, undated; David Blackburst, Newsgroup post of November 29, 1997). Arcacha has never been linked to narcotics smuggling. For the complete "case" against Arcacha, see Jim DiEugenio, "Rose Cheramie: How She Predicted the JFK Assassination," PROBE, Vol. 6, No. 2, July-August 1999. Sources on Cheramie: House Select Committee Hearings Vol. X, 199-205; NODA file on Rose Cheramie, National Archives. (The House Select Committee's two key witnesses regarding Cheramie demonstrably changed their stories significantly between their first documentation in 1967 and their 1978 depositions, so even figuring out what precisely it was Cheramie said in 1963 is a matter of deduction, if not outright speculation; compare Frank Meloche, Memorandum to Jim Garrison, March 13, 1967, to HSCA Contact Report, July 5, 1978, Bob Buras, with Dr. Victor Weiss, JFK Document No. 009699; and compare Louisiana State Police Memo., April 4, 1967, from Lt. Francis Fruge, Parish of St. Landry, to Jim Garrison, JFK Document No. 013520, to HSCA Contact Report, April 7, 1978, Bob Buras, with Francis Louis Fruge, JFK Document No. 014141; discussed in Todd Vaughan, Newsgroup post of March 9, 1999.)
307. Odds 'n' Ends Department: The La Fontaines find something sinister about gunrunner Donnell Darius Whitter being "sent for psychiatric examination to the US Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, the same facility that had held such other troublesome figures in need of observation as Gen. Edwin Walker, and later Albert [sic -- Abraham] Bolden and Richard Case Nagell" (La Fontaine, 32). Bolden was a Chicago Secret Service agent who alleged dereliction of duty within the Secret Service for JFK's Texas trip at around the same time he was convicted of a charge that no researcher ever seems to have analyzed. Jim Garrison expressed interest in the Bolden case, alleging that Bolden was convicted on perjured testimony (Paris Flammonde, The Kennedy Conspiracy, 271), but nothing ever came of Garrison's curiosity. According to anonymous sources in Flammonde's book -- presumably an unnamed NODA assistant DA or investigator, if not the DA himself -- Bolden reported that agents on the Dallas trip "had been living it up" the night before the assassination, in violation of Secret Service regulations (true), and that Oswald cried out, "Ruby hired me!" "during his brief of custody" (Flammonde, 208). (Oswald really talked!) General Walker, of course, was hospitalized long before the assassination -- for a week in October 1962 (cf. Albert H. Newman, The Assassination of John F. Kennedy: The Reasons Why, 55) -- and his only known connection to the event is the evidence that he had been an earlier target of JFK's alleged assassin. The La Fontaines are indecisive as to whether or not Oswald did so (La Fontaine, 141-3), and the event is omitted in their "Countdown to the Assassination" chronology (Ibid., 352). Richard Case Nagell "is the most important witness there is," Jim Garrison once stated (Dick Russell, The Man Who Knew Too Much, 47), but Garrison declined to call Nagell to testify before the Grand Jury or at the trial of Clay Shaw. The La Fontaines' only other reference to Nagell describes him as a "purported conspiracy figure" (La Fontaine, 199). The La Fontaines have to resort to this kind of desperate ploy because Donnell Darius Whitter is crucial to their theory that "Oswald talked," and no evidence but the eminently impeachable witness, John Franklin Elrod, links Whitter to the assassination in any way.
308. "Clay Bertrand": Please see my article "Who Speaks for Clay Shaw?"
309. Polygraph test conducted by John Spoonmore of the Scientific Security Service of Dallas; Citation courtesy of David Blackburst.
310. Polygraph test conducted by John Spoonmore of the Scientific Security Service of Dallas; Citation courtesy of David Blackburst.
311. La Fontaine, 342.
312. La Fontaine, 185.
313. La Fontaine, 342.
314. Lambert, 65. Following Ferrie's death, "Garrison immediately announced that he and his aides had made the decision that very morning 'to arrest' Ferrie early next week.' That was not true. But for twenty-seven years, no one in the Garrison camp admitted it publicly. In 1994 [former Assistant DA] James Alcock went on record with the truth. 'To my knowledge,' he told me, speaking each word deliberately, 'there was NO intent to arrest David Ferrie' [emphasis in original]. Alcock should know. He was one of those Garrison said was present when the "decision" was made."
315. La Fontaine, 184.
316. La Fontaine, 60.
317. For an article Thornley himself wrote about this episode, please click here.
318. La Fontaine, 342.
319. La Fontaine, 332.
320. Many examples are presented in Patricia Lambert, False Witness; Milton Brener, The Garrison Case; Edward Jay Epstein, Counterplot, anthologized in The Assassination Chronicles; and James Kirkwood, American Grotesque. See also John McAdams' Garrison Web page.
321. See also this excerpt from James Kirkwood's American Grotesque, and further information at John McAdams' Garrison Web page.
322. Incidentally, can anyone explain what the section devoted to Arcacha and Aynesworth (La Fontaine, 339-6) has to do with the rest of the La Fontaines' book? It appears to serve no purpose other than that of making excuses for Jim Garrison.
323. La Fontaine, 345. In one intriguing passage, the La Fontaines go even further in their suspicions about Aynesworth, writing that "Aynesworth's role was marked by his ubiquitous presence on virtually every front of the assassination story. Aynesworth was, for example, one of the Dallas Morning News employees who provided an alibi for Jack Ruby, supporting Ruby's claim that he was at the offices of the Dallas newspaper when the president was shot" (Ibid., 341). Since only a gunman or getaway driver would need an alibi -- a plotter wouldn't -- the La Fontaines' innuendo is truly astounding. They continue parenthetically, "Though why he was at the newspaper building instead of out on the motorcade route, as were most reporters on November 22, 1963, is something Aynesworth has never explained . . ." (Ibid.). Did the La Fontaines ask him for an explanation? I didn't think so. (Note that one moment Aynesworth is "ubiquitous" and the next he's slacking off. There's just no pleasing some people.) "Remarkably, Aynesworth was also at the book depository within minutes of the assassination, at the Texas Theater [sic] when Oswald was captured, and in the police basement when Ruby shot Oswald" (Ibid.). Hearing the La Fontaines tell it, one would think it was Ruby who provided Aynesworth with an alibi.
324. To see how two modern-day Garrison advocates -- both of whom are a little more candid about their belief in the onetime DA than the La Fontaines -- attempt to defend Garrison, check out my response to an article written by Martin Shackelford (containing the complete text of Shackelford's article) or my review of William Davy's Let Justice Be Done: New Light on the Jim Garrison Investigation.