Inside the Garrison JFK Assassination investigation.

Part 4 of 9

Friday, November 3, 1967

I had been boiling up for a row with Mark Lane and his lieutenant Gary Sanders, and it burst today. I confronted Lane with his right to read and xerox our files–he was in the process of reading the Ferrie file when this occurred. I asked him how he felt that xeroxing the files contributed to the investigation. He kept quite calm and replied that Garrison set policy in the office, not me, and that therefore he could xerox them if he wanted to, which was I suppose a reasonable answer. I also told Lane that it was my belief he had lied to me about some information provided him by David Lifton. Lifton, a friend of Wesley Liebeler in Los Angeles, had managed to get some information from Liebeler about the classified pages on David Ferrie in the National Archives. Liebeler worked on this area for the Warren Commission and had copies of the classified pages, which he read out to Lifton one evening. (He would not let Lifton have copies of them.) Lifton ran home and wrote down all he could remember. He then later met Lane and told him he had this material written down. Lane told him that he had to have it because he was on his way to New Orleans and Garrison would like to see it. Lifton gave him the material, as well as some info from some columnist. Lane says he only got the columnist material, not the other. Lifton was quite surprised to hear this, and surprised to hear that we did not have the Ferrie material in the office by now. Their stories are in flat contradiction, and there is no doubt in my mind that Lane is lying. The fact is the Ferrie material is worse than useless to Garrison, because it indicates that the FBI is not hiding anything significant about Ferrie, and thus deprives Garrison of an excuse to talk about governmental secrecy, etc. Lane is smart enough to realize this, and no doubt decided that the best thing would be simply not to show the Lifton material to Garrison at all.

Saturday, November 4, 1967

Thought it best to tell Garrison that I had had an argument with Lane, and he treated it with vast diplomacy. He ensured, first of all, that I was alone in his office with him, to ensure that he was not confronted by any kind of consensus from the office. Garrison advised me that it was OK for Lane to xerox the files etc., because he was writing a book about the investigation. Two people had been authorized to write books about the subject; and Mark Lane, who would be doing a more leisurely "history" book on it.

I saw Lane later in the afternoon, and we more or less agreed to stop the feud. I told him, however, what it was that concerned me more than anything: some of the files, which I was supposed to be in charge of, were something of an embarrassment to me. The Ferrie file contains no evidence that Ferrie knew Oswald, which is the relationship which the investigation was originally predicated on. The Ferrie file is, in fact, simply a report on a negative investigation. Under the circumstances then, it was somewhat embarrassing to have outsiders like Gary Sanders coming round reading the file. Lane reacted as though he appreciated my problem and then said: "Well, in future, if anyone looks at the Ferrie file, just tell them that the important material from it has been put into a confidential file somewhere." By saying this, of course, Mark Lane was acknowledging the lack of basis for the investigation.

In late afternoon Harold Weisberg arrived, and I went out to see him with Loisel, Ivon and Eckert at the Fountainbleau. We spent the afternoon bugging the next door room to Harold's, for the purpose of deciding once and for all whether people really are going through the baggage of our guests, as Harold Weisberg has claimed in the past, as also did Steve Jaffe.

In the evening met Layton Martens at the "Seven Seas". He seems like quite a nice guy, just majored in cello at USL and wants to leave state to join an orchestra in New York, but is not allowed to leave because of his perjury indictment. He does not know, he says, the basis for the indictment.

Saturday, November 11, 1967

Garrison supposedly leaving again for West Coast on Monday. Jaffe and Sanders off to Dallas filming for Steve's UCLA project.

Saturday November 18, 1967

Garrison left on Monday, to give an unspecified speech in Los Angeles–some group Maggie Field has rounded up. Not much happened this week: Garrison away, and Mark Lane didn't come in at all.

Saturday Evening Post advance copy (with article by Tink Thompson) arrived and caused a pleasant surprise in the office. "Boy, that's beautiful," said Lorraine Schuler, looking at the diagram showing crossfire possibility, "it makes Russo look a little bit better." Alcock commented: "Garrison will come out of this smelling like a rose. That guy has more luck than anyone I know. And I'll tell you something else about him: he's not afraid of anyone."

Gary Sanders had brought with him a copy of the complete Texas AG report on the assassination, consisting of about 20 bound volumes of reports etc. Much of it–in fact the majority–is duplicated in the 26 volumes. However, I sent Sylvia Meagher some of the new material for her appraisal. She received it and called up mystified. Agreed to look through it, but this did not commit her in any way to support of Garrison, she stressed.

Epstein, I sense, is trying to push me for details of the case he badly needs, via an ms. He hopes I'm going to submit to his publishers. He writes me friendly letters, and calls up quite frequently.

Monday, Dec 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 -- eg 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 lawyer told Garrison that, in his view, there was enough discreditable material in Novel's background to make it unlikely that Novel could ever win his suit against Playboy and Garrison.

On Saturday, Garrison made statement to channel 12 TV about Warren, Johnson etc., affirming that they knowingly covered up an assassination plot.

Thursday, Dec 7, 1967

They want to start a trial file in the office, which collates the evidence to be used against Shaw at the trial. Evidently, it should be broken down into different areas: giving evidence that:
  1. Shaw discussed or plotted assassination.
  2. Shaw knew Oswald.
  3. Shaw knew Ferrie.
  4. Oswald knew Ferrie.
  5. Shaw used name Clay or Clem Bertrand.
  6. there was an overt act by either Shaw, Ferrie, or Oswald.
  7. shots were fired from 2 or more directions, in accord with Russo's testimony.
It cannot be stressed too strongly that proving Oswald innocent and proving Shaw guilty are antithetical aims. If Oswald is proven innocent, Shaw is virtually exonerated.

If Shaw is guilty of conspiracy, then Oswald must be either an actual assassin or have concurred in his own frame-up, by allowing his rifle to be taken into the TSBD etc. Moreover, the argument that Oswald should have (a) discussed assassinating the President with Shaw and Ferrie, and (b) be innocent, when he was in the building from which the shots were fired, when his gun was also in the building, and when the bullet fragments ballistically matched to that gun were found in the car of the dead President, lacks plausibility to say the least.

In fact, nobody seems to have remarked on the fact that Russo's testimony, if it is true, actually increases the likelihood that Oswald was an assassin, since, in addition to the prior evidence against him, he is now involved in a prior discussion about the assassination.

The only way to make Shaw's guilt compatible with Oswald's innocence is to shirt the overt act to Ferrie, since in that event Oswald could have been unknowingly framed, and the Shaw-Ferrie-Oswald conspiracy could still have come to fruition without Oswald knowing anything about it. However, none of Ferrie's actions seem as though they can be interpreted as an overt act, not even his trip to Texas (which did not start until after the assassination), and therefore the burden seems to fall back on Oswald.

Monday, January 15, 1968

Returned from Washington D.C. after approx 3 weeks visit -- partly vacation partly business. The day before I left Edgar Eugene Bradley was charged with conspiracy by Garrison. The original lead on Bradley was a letter we were sent by one Thomas Thornhill, alleging that Bradley had been involved in the assassination, including a photograph of Bradley. The letter was dated in April, 1967, but nobody took any notice of it until Bill Turner found it in the files during his visit in September. Bradley was then investigated in L.A. by Turner, Boxley, and Garrison, during one of his visits to the West Coast. Garrison became persuaded that a photograph, taken in Dealey Plaza shortly after the assassination of two tramps being led away by Dallas policemen depicted Bradley. Nobody in the DA's office was prepared to fill out the Bill of Information charging Bradley, especially Alcock, but Garrison talked them into it over the phone. Garrison assured them that the case against Bradley was solid, and that we had jurisdiction in the case. Then, with extreme misgivings, charges were filed while Garrison was still away. He returned almost immediately, and was back in time to be present for the DA's office party.

One of the co-conspirators named with Bradley in the original Bill of Information was Jack Lawrence, a car salesman at Downtown Lincoln Mercury during the assassination. His name was later withdrawn, however, and no co-conspirators were actually specified. I had planned to travel to Washington on Dec 21 anyway, and so when I left I suggested to Louis Ivon that while I was there I check through the National Archives for any mention of Edgar Eugene Bradley, and also try to get to see Jack Lawrence, who was last heard of in Charleston, West Virginia. Garrison apparently remained convinced that Lawrence was "involved", and Ivon agreed it would be a good idea to get more information on him in an effort to forestall Garrison from again acting rashly.

I went to the Archives while in Washington, and requested any information they may have on Bradley from their name index file, but Marion Johnson told me they had nothing. Knowing that they sometimes have reports on people which do not get listed in the name index, I then requested to see all commission Documents originating in California, ie. FBI reports with office of origin San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc. I also checked through the El Paso files. However there was no mention of Bradley anywhere. (I did find some FBI reports on Richard Case Nagell, however, which strongly suggest that he had nothing whatsoever to do with the assassination.)

I also traveled to Charleston, West Virginia, with Lady Jean Campbell (daughter of Lord Beaverbrook and ex-husband of Norman Mailer), a correspondent for the London Evening Standard now living in New York. She had been introduced to me by Jones Harris. We visited Jack Lawrence in his house in Charleston, to cut a long story short. He persuaded both of us that he had absolutely nothing to do with the assassination.

Thursday, January 25, 1968

Marina Oswald subpoenaed yesterday. Mort Sahl arrived today and gets D.A. credentials. He was recently on the Johnny Carson show and suggested to Carson that Garrison appear on his show. When Alcock head this he said, "Is he serious?!" When Sahl commented that he was now working as an investigator for Garrison, Alcock, who had been unaware of the fact, commented to me later, "We'll have jugglers and fire-breathers working for us soon."

Sahl looks rather weary and under the weather, haggard, lined face, from what I remember of him in Washington last May.

Saturday, January 27, 1968

Barbara Reid gave a party this evening, attended by Garrison, Mark Lane, Mort Sahl, Vince Salandria, Matt and Janine Herron, among others. Morris Brownlee and John George also there.

Sunday, January 28, 1968

This afternoon there was a rather extraordinary meeting on the NOAC. It was attended by just about everybody from the DA's office who is working on the investigation -- Sciambra, Alcock, Burnes, myself, Ivon, Loisel and even Charlie Ward. We sat around a large table in a back room for some time, and then Garrison came in with Vince Salandria. Garrison said that Salandria had some remarks to address us, and introduced Salandria as an expert on the assassination etc.

Salandria started off by telling us that we were in much better shape now than on the occasion of his earlier visit, in July. I had accompanied him around at that time, and I recall he was shown the Shaw file. He looked through it, and was rather rueful about it to me. He admitted to me that there wasn't much there. Now, however, it was a different story, or so he seemed to think. He could tell by the expressions on our faces. The case against Shaw was now looking much more solid, he told us, and we were beginning to work as a team.

He then started to urge us that the only trouble was we weren't going far enough, and he then started to work himself up into a harangue about Michael and Ruth Paine. "They're agents," he said, "I know they're agents. I've got the proof." He went on at some length about how he had met the Paines, and he produced some quasi-evidence suggesting they were agents etc. Then he told us to go ahead and charge the Paines -- "You've got all the evidence you need." He exhorted us to charge some others too, Marina Oswald, and Allan Dulles. Don't worry about anything, just go ahead and charge them, "the evidence is THERE!"

Garrison sat next to Salandria through all this, calmly smoking his pipe. Salandria was getting really worked up by this time, and was actually shouting at us. Someone asked him to tell us some of the evidence, and then he pulled out a few card indexes -- seemingly a little annoyed at being distracted by such trivia -- and then started off on his stuff about troop increases in Vietnam, the radio message to Airforce One, the same stuff he had shown me earlier on when he was working on the manuscript on WHY Kennedy was killed with his friend Tom Katen.

When he finished he was fairly attacked by several members of the staff, notably Jim Alcock and Charlie Ward. He was told that he just didn't have sufficient evidence to warrant any of his conclusions, that he didn't seem to realize that we, as a DA's office must be concerned with the law and other such niceties, etc. Garrison began to get upset at these attacks, and came to Salandria's defense. Salandria even tried to tell us that Oswald was innocent, and I pointed out to him that if you believe Russo, you have just about got to believe that Oswald is guilty. I pointed out that the evidence adduced by our investigation made it more, and not less likely, that Oswald was involved. I remember Garrison gave me a look as though to say -- 'What on earth is he talking about, he still doesn't understand,' but I knew the whole office, apart from Garrison, was solidly behind me.

Garrison was beginning to smart by this time, and he ended the meeting with an attempt to wrest back the initiative. He gave us a lecture about all having to pull together, that we couldn't afford to work against one another, etc. However, it was obvious that his major objective had not been accomplished. Evidently he had been trying to use Salandria to persuade us of a course of action which he wanted to take himself but knew that we would not endorse. Therefore he was hoping that we might accept it if it came from someone else, namely Salandria. But the ruse had not worked. It was evident that everyone there, with the possible exception of Sciambra -- who does not stick his neck out at all when he sees it means going against what Garrison wants -- thought that Salandria was something of a nut.

Next: Part Five

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