Testimony of Adelle Edisen

Dallas, Texas -- November 18, 1994 Hearing
MR. MARWELL: Adele Edisen.

MS. EDISEN: Good morning.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Good morning, Ms. Edisen.

MS. EDISEN: And thank you for your consideration and the opportunity to speak. I received a call from Mr. Marwell. My name is Adele Elvira Uskali Edisen. Professionally I have a bachelor's degree and a doctorate degree in physiology from the University of Chicago. My field is neurophysiology. I am a neuroscientist.

At the time I will be speaking about 1963 from personal experience, but before I do I could give you a brief run down of my background. I have been on the faculty and have done research at Tulane University School of Medicine, at LSU School of Medicine. In fact, in 1963, I was there as a third year post-doctoral fellow of the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness of the National Institutes of Health. I have also been on the faculty of Rockefeller University, that was much later; St. Mary's Dominican College in New Orleans, Delgato College in New Orleans; the University of Texas at San Antonio; and I am currently teaching part-time at Palo Alto College which is a community college of San Antonio. I have also been associated with the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio in the past.

I am seeking specific records which I mentioned in my letter, and there are some others, but perhaps it would be best to give you an idea of the experience I had. I am willing to give you also a narrative that I wrote in 1975 to give to my attorney in the event of my death in case something happened to me so that there would be a record somewhere because we could not obtain records from the Secret Service or the FBI with whom I had an interview on November 24th, 1963.

In 1962, I tried to get back into my field of research after having three children. My children at that time, in '63, were seven, five and three, and I was offered the opportunity to apply for a post-doctoral fellowship. I had already had two years of post-doctoral fellowship support from that institute, that was at Tulane, and Dr. Sidney Harris of LSU's School of Medicine, Department of Physiology suggested that I apply and he told me in December that he had received a phone call from a Dr. Jose Rivera of the Institute telling him that I had been granted that award.

Since my husband had been ill that was a very important award, and by the time that these meetings occurred in April of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, which is an umbrella organization of six major biological societies including the physiological, American Physiological Society, I had accomplished a certain amount of research on a volunteer basis, and I had enough results to report.

So I went to these meetings which were held in Atlantic City and it was there that I met the individual I am going to be speaking about, Jose Rivera, who was manning a booth at the convention hall there.

Well, to make this story shorter, I befriended him or he befriended me, I was planning to go to Bethesda in Washington and visit with colleagues and friends at the NIH and also to see the NIH, and so he had, in the course of our conversations and so on, invited me to his home to have dinner with him and his wife and daughter, and also to help me obtain hotel, motel space for my visit in Bethesda after these meetings, and to give me a site-seeing tour, and so on.

It turned out he had taught at Loyola University in New Orleans, and we knew some people in common who were, for example, Dr. Fred Brazda who was Chairman of Biochemistry at LSU Medical School and a few other people.

So, at any rate, I won't go into all the detail in the interest of time, but I will submit my narrative to you. I also wrote a short paper which was published in The Third Decade, which is a research journal of the assassination of President Kennedy, published and edited by Dr. Jerry Rose. This article, this short article was written by me under a pseudonym of K.S. Turner, I was looking trying to find one of the Secret Service agents because I have not yet received any records of my interviews with them.

Mr. Rivera, or Dr. Rivera or Colonel Rivera he also called himself, mentioned to me, and this is April 1963, seven months before the assassination, on Monday night April the 22nd, it turned out that his wife was a nurse and she was on duty at her hospital and so we didn't go to dinner at his home, but rather he took me to Blackie's House of Beef in Washington, and it was there that he said to me, as we were waiting to be seated, he told me about his trips to Dallas and so on, and he mentioned, he said there is a very nice nightclub there, the Carousel Club and the next time you are in Dallas you should go there.

In the few moments later he asked me if I knew Lee Oswald. I had never heard of Lee Oswald. I vaguely wondered if he was related to a boy I had gone to high school with whose name was Fred Oswald, and I went to high school in New York, but that was all. I said, no, I didn't know him.

He said, well, he lived in Russia for a while, and he has a Russian wife and a child and they are in Dallas now and they are planning, he is planning to come to New Orleans -- they are planning to come to New Orleans, and you should get to know them because they are a very lovely couple. Those are more or less exact quotes.

I didn't think anything of it. We had dinner and so on and so forth. It was the next night, again his wife apparently couldn't make dinner, and we were seated at, this time, the Marriott, I think it is called the Twin Bridges, across the Potomac River, and there were several other things he asked me about, if I knew of John Abt for example. I later, many years later, learned that was the attorney that Lee Oswald asked to represent him. I didn't know John Abt either. But he did later on say to the effect that Oswald would -- I presume he meant Oswald would call upon Abt to defend him.

All of these things were only in retrospect that I put it together. But it was that Tuesday night which was the most devastating. We were site-seeing, and we went all around Washington to the cherry blossoms, the White House, every time we toured around the White House he asked me if I saw Caroline on her pony Macaroni, and all kinds of crazy nonsense, and I was beginning to think I was with an absolute mad man.

But the first indication he made of the death of the President was as we were approaching getting near the White House the first time, he said, I wonder what Jackie will do when her husband dies. I said, what? And he said, I mean the baby.

What baby was what went into my mind, I didn't know she was pregnant. He said, well she might lose the baby, and then he began to talk about women having caesarian sections and did I know whether they could have normal deliveries, vaginal deliveries if they have had caesarian sections, and it went on and on like that. I just wondered about what he was -- maybe he did make a slip of the tongue or something.

But at the Marriott -- let me get back to that, and I am sorry I digressed -- it was after dinner and he asked to do a favor for him when I got back to New Orleans, and that was the subject of the note which I mentioned in the letter.

He said that he had talked with this gentleman, I guess it is all right to mention the name, I don't know if he had anything to do with the assassination or not, but it was a faculty member at Loyola who apparently had been a friend of his or was a friend, Winston DeMonsabert. He dictated the name -- I think I misspelled it in the note -- and said call -- tell him to call me when you get back there, and ask him when he is leaving New Orleans, because I heard -- this is Rivera talking -- I heard he was leaving New Orleans.

So I wrote on the note, Winston DeMonsabert call Dr. Rivera when leaving NO, my abbreviation for New Orleans. In some more conversation, and he then asked me to write down a number which was 899-4244, and after that he said, write down this name, Lee Harvey Oswald. It didn't ring a bell to me that that was the same name that he had mentioned the night before, and he said, tell him to kill the chief. So underneath that part of the note I wrote in quotes "kill the chief."

Now, let me explain -- one more thing, when he saw me writing down the message, he said, no, no, don't write that down. You will remember it when you get to New Orleans.

The reference to chief to me meant NIH because NIH made this joke or description several times during these two days. He said, do you know why NIH is called the reservation? I said, no. He said, because there are so many chiefs and no Indians.

The organization, the internal organization of NIH is, at least it was then and I presume it is the same now, was that different intermural research groups would have a chief of the section. For example, chief of the spinal cord section, or chief of this or chief of that, and even the training grants and awards section of which Rivera was a part had a chief, Elizabeth Hartman.

So all this time I thought that Oswald was a scientist and a friend of Rivera's. I couldn't understand about the Russian wife because, you know, at that time they were citizens of our two countries were not allowed to leave or to visit each other, and so on.

I became very frightened then, I didn't understand what he was talking about even though he had made references to assassination of the President or killing of the President, but he said when he told me not to write down that part, he said, don't write it down, you will remember it when you get to New Orleans. We are just playing a little joke on him, presumably meaning Oswald.

There were other references to the assassination which I only -- he said, for example, after -- he kept talking about it in this way, he would say, after it happens -- it happens, what happens, you know, I don't know what he is talking about -- after it happens, he would say, someone will kill him, meaning apparently the assassin, and I presume it was Oswald, although I never considered until much later that Oswald did it, but anyway Oswald. They will say his best friend killed him. After it happens the President's best friend will jump out of a window because of his grief, and there was such an event about two weeks later, the former Ambassador to Ireland jumped out of a window in Miami, his name was Grant Stockdale. Although, again, at the time I didn't make connection.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Ms. Edisen, this note is a note that then you passed along to a government agent?


CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Can you tell us about that?

MS. EDISEN: Yes. On Sunday, November the 24th, I called the Secret Service. I had actually called the Secret Service in July and I spoke briefly with Agent J. Calvin Rice, and I was going to go down there and tell them this incredible story which now I had -- I thought there was some sort of conspiracy to kill the President after putting it together. And then I thought they wouldn't believe me, and I would only make a fool of myself, and so I called him back and declined.

But when the assassination actually did occur, I did go down there on Sunday and they were very anxious to see me, and Mr. Rice told me not to sign in the register because -- I guess it was for protection or something but to call him when I got to the lobby, and I went there.

As we were walking to his office, Mr. Rice told me that they had just gotten word that Oswald had been shot. So it must have been after Jack Ruby shot him. And we went into his office where he introduced me to a burly FBI agent, a balding man, and I believe he might have been Oren Bartlett. The reason I say that is because his first name was definitely Oren because when he was introduced to me I thought I had misheard, and I said, Owen, and he said, no, Oren, and I thought of a pear making some sort of an association to the name.

At any rate, I began to tell him my incredible story, and I was there for about three to four hours in their office. There were only two men there, J. Calvin Rice, Secret Service, who was a youngish man, about in his, I would imagine, 30s, early 30s, not much taller than I was. I had small Cuban, you know, walking heels.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: And there were notes taken at this?

MS. EDISEN: Well, he took some notes but Mr. Rice was seated at his desk, and I was seated to his right, and the FBI agent remained standing most of the time. I believe he may have taped it because every time Mr. Rice got up from his desk, there was a partition over there, for example, and there was a phone there which they used, even though there was a phone on the desk, which I didn't understand, but apparently there was some reason for that. So every time Mr. Rice got up to answer the phone or to use the phone, I noticed his hand would do this, and I would either hear a whirring, a mechanical sound like a tape recorder or something. It may have been audiotaped.

At the end of the interview, when I was leaving, Mr. Rice asked the FBI agent who had been coming and going more or less, do you have the film and is the plane ready, and they were leaving. I thought they were going to Washington because the FBI agent had been introduced to me as being from Washington, but, no, Mr. Rice said they were going to Dallas. So presumably they were flying that night or immediately, and they all -- and he put his hat on and they were ready to leave, and they were showing me out. Mr. Rice showed me out the door.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: So what you are seeking is any kind of record of this interview and note that you passed?

MS. EDISEN: Yes. What I am seeking and I have sought for about four times since 1975, my most recent request went in this summer, the interview of November 24th, 1963, there should be some record of it. Even if they thought I was completely out of my mind, there should be some record of it somewhere, either in Secret Service or in the FBI office. The FBI agent made a call to someone very important to him asking that Mr. Rivera be interrogated while I was there.

In 1975, I consulted Mr. Jack Peebles, an attorney in private practice in New Orleans. He advised me to write under Freedom of Information Act to the FBI and to the CIA because we sort of -- I sort of thought Rivera had some link to CIA. They had nothing.

Mr. Peebles then wrote on August 28, 1975, to Mr. Frank Church, Senator Frank Church. Senator Church answered but it was a rather perfunctory thank you, we will use the information that your client has. Mr. Peebles did not, and I will give you a copy of his letter, did not refer to me by identity, by name, because he was trying to protect me. But he said that my client, I, would be willing to send them a tape recording or any materials they wanted as long as my identity would be protected.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: So let me just clarify here, so we understand it, it is any kind of record of this interview?

MS. EDISEN: Right.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: And possibly the note that you passed to them, the note that you had written?

MS. EDISEN: The note which I gave to the FBI agent. I am sorry I didn't make that clear.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: I was just clarifying for the Board.

Do any Board members have any questions for Ms. Edisen?

Go ahead, Dr. Graff.

DR. GRAFF: Dr. Edisen, have you had any correspondence with Dr. Rivera since you had his hospitality in Washington?

MS. EDISEN: I received a letter in early 1964, remember I was a post-doc at LSU, from Elizabeth Hartman who was Chief of the Training Branch and Awards Section asking me to submit a progress report or summary of my activities as a post-doc -- this is typical -- which I sent to her. And I received a form letter, and I have a copy of that with me, a form letter with Jose Rivera's signature on it as Executive Secretary of the Training Branch and Awards Section thanking me for this progress report.

DR. GRAFF: But you had no other correspondence, you weren't in touch with him to thank him for what he had done for you?

MS. EDISEN: No. I did see him -- let me tell you this much -- in September, right after Labor Day, a couple of days after Labor Day. I was at LSU talking to a neurology --

DR. GRAFF: What year are we in now?

MS. EDISEN: 1963, I am sorry, 1963, September, after Labor Day, speaking with Dr. Greg Harris in the hallway going for a drink of water. I looked down the hall and Rivera had just gotten off the elevator and, of course, I watched him, and he didn't see me. He had very thick glasses. He may not have seen at long distance. But when he was about eight or ten feet away, he noticed me and he halted and he almost stumbled stepping backwards. He looked as if he had seen a ghost, and then he walked on. He recovered by saying, I have to go see Fred Brazda, his friend in the biochemistry.

When you read my document, you will see what happened.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Any further questions?

MR. MARWELL: Dr. Edisen, what is the current status of your FOIA request, your Freedom of Information Act request?

MS. EDISEN: I will tell you. I wrote, it was in June, yes, in June. I can tell you one more thing. In 1984, I met an FBI agent in San Antonio. I will give you his name in confidence because I don't want him in, you know, but he listened to -- he knew about this, and he suggested that I write a brief summary of my experiences. I wrote I think a seven-page summary. He submitted it with a covering letter to Headquarters. I wrote about a year or so later to the FBI again with a request for Freedom of Information Act any files on me and so on, and they replied they had nothing. We know they had something. So this is my concern. Why aren't these files available to me?

I also request from this Board that they examine any records pertaining to Jose Rivera, Colonel Rivera of the Army, and what his role was in all of this. I know something about him, that he has spent some time in Japan, for example, he told me that, and may have been there at the time Oswald was there. He knew Oswald somehow.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you very much, Dr. Edisen.

MS. EDISEN: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: We appreciate you sharing your information with us today.

MS. EDISEN: Thank you very much.

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