An insider's view of Jim Garrison's case against Clay Shaw in the assassination of JFK.

Part 3 of 9

Tuesday, October 3, 1967

State's reply filed re continuance and change of venue. January trial now seems likely. Garrison requests McKeithen to appear before the Grand Jury, and then subpoenas him! Alcock and Lorraine Schuler (Garrison's secretary) amazed at this, and obviously somewhat dismayed. Alcock again referred to the Playboy interview and said how wild it was. Lorraine Schuler said she wouldn't even read it. Then Alcock said that by saying outright that Oswald didn't fire a gun that day, Garrison had "pulled our overt act out from underneath us." He told Garrison this, but Garrison casually replied that: "That's just my opinion. You can argue differently in court if you want to." (Garrison is consistently and openly contemptuous of lawyers and law. I once heard him say that lawyers should be called liars. On another occasion Garrison explained that when he was in law school he learned that any case can be argued either way, according to whichever set of precedents you care to select from the law books, and that therefore the establishment of truth has got little to do with law. Ever since he realized this, he said, he lost interest in law.) As Alcock said, the one thing we could have proved was that Oswald owned the gun etc.

It is worth noting that if it is a question of either strengthening his case against Clay Shaw, or arguing against the Warren Report, the latter always has a prior claim in Garrison's mind.

To dinner in the evening at the NOAC with Garrison, Boxley, Burnes and Sciambra, later joined by Ivon and Loisel. (Alcock always does his best to avoid these gatherings.) Garrison even more confident than ever, and soon after I arrived made a startling remark to the effect that so far he had been playing it cautiously, but now he was really going to start swinging out onto the offensive. Idea of the dinner was to get us to concentrate our attention onto crucial areas -- before we had been spread out "like two infantry battalions," Garrison said -- but in fact not much was achieved in the course of the evening.

Garrison seems certain that General Walker and H.L.Hunt are involved in the assassination, although I am not clear on what evidence. I was agreed to give them the code names Harry and Eddie Blue (i.e. "True Blue") It was pointed out by Boxley, (real name, it emerged, is Bill Wood) that Life lost interest in us when we lost interest in the Cuban exiles -- good point.

Garrison is evidently proud of the fact that he doesn't smell a Communist conspiracy in the assassination. He repeatedly says how "we found out after two days the Communists weren't involved." His assistants look about them with deadpan expressions when he makes remarks like this, not giving anything away.

Walker's "involvement" is supposed to have something to do with the fact that he was in New Orleans on the day of the assassination, and then traveled from here to Shreveport. H.L.Hunt also has a home in Shreveport. Movements to Shreveport -- Cody, Walker, Bruce Ray Carlin to N.O. and back to Fort Worth all seen as passing messages to avoid records of long distance phone calls -- this is the way Garrison likes to speculate. He gets fairly far from reality at times like this, and regards it as completely obvious that if there were such a widespread and all-embracing conspiracy, no one else but him would ever have stumbled across it.

Marilyn Murret has not been checked out in New Orleans, nor has Sam Newman been asked to identify the 5'9" brown hair Spanish accent person at 544 Camp Street. (Mentioned by him in one of the Secret Service reports in the 26 volumes.) On Monday Alcock repeated how amazing it was that the other person in the Pizzo exhibit--"Manuel Garcia Gonzalez"-- has never been identified.

Thursday, October 5, 1967

Marcello brothers and Governor McKeithen appeared before the grand jury. Lunch with Matt Herron and Marta Calleja. Matt is taking pictures for Life. I spoke to Martin Waldron in the afternoon, and he told me that the New York Times had been given a lead for a possible Shaw-Ferrie link, which, he said, had not been checked out, and so he gave it to me. This concerned a man called Shaw who rented an airport somewhere with plans to fly bombing missions over Cuba. The information was dug up by some history professor called Sadler in South Carolina while doing a thesis or something like that. Alcock reached Sadler by phone but concluded that there was nothing to the lead.

(1969: this is an illustration of the kind of dishonest reporting that has been going on in the Los Angeles Free Press. In their March 21, 1969, issue they refer to (ie Art Kunkin refers to) Shaw's "possible involvement, according to information in Garrison's files, with other people from New Orleans Trade Mart in a plot to bomb Cuba in 1947 from a Florida airport rented by a "Shaw"." The "information in Garrison's files" is simply a lead provided by a reporter from the New York Times, which was checked out and found to have no substance.)

In the evening Garrison left for Los Angeles.

Friday, October 6, 1967

Went with Boxley to check out lead that Oswald was employed by St. Charles (Sheraton Charles) Hotel in 1963. No Oswald or Hidell in employee files of hotel though. The story evidently derives from one Fred Willis, now employed at the Pancake House on Bourbon Street, to whom we spoke. I doubt if there is anything to it. Apparently the FBI had already checked into the possibility and no doubt would have made it known if Oswald had worked there.

As Boxley and I were driving back towards Tulane Avenue I told him about the Claire Bertrand rumor, and we discussed going into the Hotel Dieu and looking at their employee files. Decided against it though. I think we both felt that it would be somewhat embarrassing to unearth such information!

Had a call from Matt Herron and that evening we went to have drinks with David Chandler and his wife. Chandler extremely critical of Garrison, and said he hoped to see him in jail as a result of his activity. Chandler said that Garrison was a criminal and he could prove it.

Chandler said that Life was going to come out with another ‘mob' story soon, which would specifically single Garrison out for attack. Then, probably after the Shaw trial, there would be another story about the assassination investigation. (1969: neither of these articles came out.) Chandler wanted to know (a) what I thought of Garrison, and (b) why I was working for him.

We asked Chandler what Billings thought about the assassination and Chandler said Billings thought there was a conspiracy. Chandler said he was writing an article for Esquire, for which the deadline as in 9 days, although he hadn't started it yet, and also a book about "the whole picture" (ie Louisiana politics) which was supposed to coincide with the Shaw trial.

I asked him why he seemed to have so much animosity towards Garrison, and he said he didn't have any personal animosity towards him, as he did towards Charles Ward, whom he described ironically as "gutsy Ward." Chandler asked me what I thought of Garrison's methods, and I asked him in respect to whom. He listed Beaubouef, Layton Martens, Sheridan, Townley etc. He said that what he objected to in the case of Beaubouef was that he was subpoenaed, and the power of the subpoena was used to interrogate him in the DA's office. Same was true of Ferrie, he said. (Not so, I believe. Ferrie was interrogated in the DA's office, but I am sure he was not subpoenaed.) I replied that it seemed to me more important to concentrate on the substance -- or lack or it -- in the investigation than to harp continually on methods. That was why the Phelan article was so damaging, I conceded, because it attacked the substance of the case.

I asked him why Life seemed to be singling out Louisiana for attack–wasn't the situation bad anywhere else? He admitted the situation was bad in New Jersey, also in Mass. He said that the 3rd article on La. was provoked as much as anything by the response of McKeithen & Garrison of an offer to resign if Life's charges were true. This resignation offer made it a good news story.

I said that if you legislate against certain activities, which are only marginally, if at all, "malum in se," such as gambling, then you are always going to create a breed of men who are criminals by virtue of their catering to this activity, as happened also in the case of prohibition. Chandler replied that it was not the gambling that he objected to, but the bribery and corruption which permitted it to exist, and the subsequent degeneration of officials who allow themselves to be corrupted in this way. (Which, I now agree (1969) is the whole point, although at the time I argued further with Chandler about it.)

Thursday, October 19, 1967

Garrison returned from West Coast. Little has happened during his absence. He returned determined to charge Heindel with some crime, but prudence has, I hope, prevailed. He was urged not to by, at least, Loisel, Boxley, Alcock, David Lifton and Steve Jaffe.

I completed memo on Oswald's movements while he was unemployed in New Orleans. Boxley away in Houston -- doing heavens knows what, I never see any memos from Boxley. The other day I had lunch with Boxley and he told me how he came to be hired by Garrison. It was on May 1, 1967. I think he had been doing some work for the Wakenhut organisation before working for Garrison. He came right out and told Garrison that he had been employed by the CIA in the ‘50s -- early ‘50s I think. Boxley also worked for a fairly covert part of the agency -- maybe Plans Division or something like that. He is quite discreet about the CIA–it wouldn't pay him to be otherwise, he allows -- but he insists that assassination of the President is not something that he would outright dismiss as unthinkable as far as the CIA is concerned. In any event, Garrison accepted that Boxley was no longer working for the CIA, etc., and hired Boxley immediately. Boxley was of course grateful, and impressed by Garrison. They spent quite a bit of time talking about the CIA, and the kind of operations it gets into. Boxley began to introduce him to the espionage argot -- talk about "cut-offs, safe houses" etc., and no doubt was largely responsible for getting Garrison to believe what he evidently wanted to believe: that the assassination was engineered by the CIA. The next day Boxley picked up a copy of the local paper and read in it headlines about Garrison's latest allegation, about the CIA. He was so startled that at first he thought the story was about him, and that Garrison was going to pounce on him.

I think Boxley lacks judgement, but he is a likeable and friendly person. I think he would do just about anything for Garrison.

We determined the whereabouts of Herrera, a State Department interpreter who might have been at the airport on Dec 14, 1966 -- date of the signature in the VIP lounge book. He lives in Arlington, Va. Questioning him could be crucial, one way or the other.

Garrison met with Melvin Belli while on the West Coast, and I think impressed him, although Belli was previously committed to the point of view -- having defended Ruby -- that there was no conspiracy.

Saturday, October 26, 1967

Garrison's intention to do something about Heindel was warded off by a concentrated effort in the office, and Alcock said he would resign if Garrison charged Heindel with perjury. Burnes continues to create the impression that he does what he is told by Garrison, merely looking for the legal means without consideration for truth or validity. Ivon and Loisel are also opposed to any action. Garrison told Loisel that he was afraid the Federal Government was looking for means to remove him from office, and he wanted to produce something new -- ie Heindel -- to forestall them. Alcock, Ivon and Lorraine Schuler took the view that this would be just the kind of move the Federal Govt. would be hoping Garrison would make. Also David Lifton called from L.A. and urged prudence. Garrison received an unfriendly letter from Kerry Thornley, now living in Tampa, Fla., saying he regretted his original affidavit and didn't want to have anything more to do with the case.

Further arrivals from the Mark Lane coterie: first Gary Sanders, a young engineer from San Francisco who attended Lane's class at Stanford. Gary trots around with Lane, and has even re-located. Now looking for job and apartment. Meanwhile he seems to think it is his right and his business to know what is going on in the office, under the aegis of Lane, who has the entree to office for Lane and Sanders, and that this is liable to create bad feelings in the office. I told Lane this last night, and he told me he didn't intend to move into my office, or that of any assistant DA.

The latest arrival is Steve Jaffe, from Los Angeles. He is currently Garrison's blue eyed boy, but he is unlikely to remain in that position for long as he is nothing more than a star-struck hanger-oner to famous people, majoring in movie making at UCLA. He started out as a friend of Mort Sahl, but increasingly used his friendship as a means of meeting important people. Sahl and Lane are both now unenthusiastic about him. He left today for Chicago, paving the way for Garrison's arrival there tomorrow in the ‘Playboy' Mansion.

We have received visits in the last week from: Roger Craig, ex-deputy sheriff in Dallas; Al Chapman, whom Penn Jones now informs Mark Lane is a member of the Klan, and furnishes nothing but useless information; a Mr. Eddows from England, and Dr. John Nichols from Kansas City.

Craig wrote to us and told us to contact him immediately. Garrison, Boxley and Lane spoke to him on Tuesday night, but so far no memos have appeared. I gather from Lane that he did not materially add to his testimony before the Warren Commission, which he was surprised we had read. He still sticks to it, and expressed surprise that Capt. Fritz does not recall Craig talking to Oswald. I spoke to Craig briefly in Garrison's office, and he had nothing to add about Oswald's testimony.

Chapman had nothing to offer, as far as I could see, but Garrison spent the whole of Thursday afternoon and Friday morning talking to him. Chapman took some man-hole pictures behind the picket fence in Dealey Plaza in August, 1967. He said he thought the "Illuminati" were responsible for the assassination, and seemed to be trying to tie "niggers" in too, citing Euins, and Negro man on wall, reported to him by Hudson, the Dealey Plaza ground-keeper.

On Friday afternoon Dr. Nichols finally saw Garrison, and in presence of Garrison, myself, Sciambra, Boxley, Lane, Jaffe and Sanders, showed us his color slides. His thesis is that Kennedy could not have been shot in the neck from an angle between directly behind to 28° to right hand side of the neck. This conclusion derives from anatomical data re. Bone structure of the neck, position of tracheotomy wound, angle up to TSBD thus giving entry height in back of neck, diagram of cross section of neck and size of neck bone, which CE 399 could not have penetrated. His point is that at angle of 28° position the wound would have been detected at Parkland Hospital and reported. Thus Nichols leaves us with the probability that the wound was a back wound, and leaves a big ? mark as to the origin of the throat wound.

Nichols cites as proof that autopsy doctors did not look at autopsy photos and x-rays the fact that they spent considerable time looking for a bullet in the body, which would have showed up readily in the x-rays!

Eddows, a retired English barrister who wrote a book about the Timothy Evans case, believes that the Kennedy assassination, like the Christine Keeler case, was engineered by the Russians. He regards the Denning Report in England as a whitewash, ditto the Warren Report. He believes that Clay Shaw was linked to the Steven Ward crowd in London.

On Monday had dinner with Garrison and his mother, Mark Lane and his wife Anne Lise, and Gary Sanders. Lane persuaded Garrison that it would be a good idea to go on a college lecture tour. Garrison thought the idea a good one, and said he would put the money into ‘Truth & Consequences'. Apparently an engagement at New Mexico University has been tentatively arranged. Lane said that at one college he was scheduled to speak at, Rep. Gerald Ford was due to speak the week after him. Garrison said he would speak the week after Ford at the same college, and thus make a "Ford Sandwich".

Not much emerged in a rambling evening's discussion. Both Garrison and Lane were putting Sylvia Meagher down for being critical of Garrison. Expectations were high for Craig the next day, and Garrison said that if he had his pick of all the witnesses in the Dealey Plaza area to speak to, he would choose Craig. Garrison said he never finished reading Epstein's book Inquest; when he discovered that there was no "analysis" by the Warren Commission, that was enough for him. (I do not recall this being a finding of the book, nor do I quite understand what Garrison means.)

Garrison seems to regard the Warren Report as completely defunct, and tends to be impatient when further discrepancies are pointed out. Seems to think it is a waste of time and that it is now imperative to move forward constructively by pointing finger at party or parties allegedly guilty.

Mrs Garrison had little to say, but she became animated when the subject of Walter Jenkins came up, towards the end of the evening. Garrison was talking about what an impression it would make if Walter Jenkins were suddenly arrested in connection with the assassination. It would link LBJ in neatly, suggest connections with Shaw etc. Garrison's mother became really interested at this point, and joined enthusiastically into the conversation. She started to egg Garrison on, and encouraged him to charge Jenkins in some way. "Oh, do do that Jim, I think that would be a wonderful idea." For her, as for Garrison, the dividing line between joking about something and seriously contemplating action on it seemed to be precious thin.

On Saturday (28th) Garrison talked to Eddows in my office. Eddows was inordinately impressed by the 'code.' For me it was a bizarre experience. After going through the P.O. 19106 ‘code', he branched out into several other variants supposedly employed by Oswald, eg a code which gives you the CIA phone number in New Orleans. Garrison's method of working this out is as follows: first he finds a series of digits or numbers in Oswald's address book (several pages are filled with scrawled figures, so there is plenty of choice) and selects a group which strikes his fancy as being encoded. He then looks up the CIA phone number in the phone book. Then, using an arbitrary method which is uniquely suited for that purpose, he translates one set of digits into the other. He also did this with the FBI phone number, but needless to say he had to use a different decoding procedure. Of course, this is not quite the way he explains it. He starts out by showing you the digits in Oswald's book, and persuades you that it is in code. Then comes the decoding ‘key', which he makes sound as plausible, logical and as easy to remember as he can, (Garrison can be surprisingly persuasive on occasions like this.) Using the key, he translates the digits into a different set, and writes out the new number for you. Then, with the air of a conjuror arriving at the climax of his trick, he opens the phone book and shows you the CIA phone number. The same number!

Eddows seemed to be completely hoodwinked by this, and was tremendously impressed by the whole performance. Garrison had complete confidence in Eddows after this, and even let him keep the sheets of legal paper he had been demonstrating the variants of the code on, which I should have thought could almost have been regarded as an incriminating document of some kind. Garrison also let Eddows take away a copy of Clay Shaw's address book.

Next: Part 4

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