The Attempt to Rehabilitate Jim Garrison

Some Authors Continue to Support His Sham Investigation of Clay Shaw

By Fred Litwin

Since the release of JFK, three authors have tried to rehabilitate Jim Garrison and his nonexistent case against Clay Shaw. In 1999, William Davy published Let Justice Be Done: New Light on the Jim Garrison Investigation; Joan Mellen released A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK's Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History in 2005 and 2013; and James DiEugenio came out with Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba and the Garrison Case in 1992 and 2012.

Editor’s Note: This essay is from Fred Litwin’s book On the Trail of Delusion, which documents the lunacy of the Garrison investigation with a plethora of heretofore unseen primary source documents. Many of these documents can be found online on Litwin’s blog.

They all suffer from invincible ignorance and peddle ridiculous conspiracy theories. They all believe that federal agencies interfered with Garrison’s investigation and that Garrison was betrayed from within by a coterie of spies and agents. And they all propagate the nonsense that Kennedy had to be killed because he was going to end the Cold War, withdraw from Vietnam, and usher in a new era of peace and prosperity. None of this was true.

Of the three, Mellen is the most credulous, believing every Garrison “witness” and buying into every Garrison theory. The centerpiece of her book is Thomas Beckham (see Chapters 16 and 17), and she even includes a picture of Beckham in his rabbi’s gown. Well, the con man fooled Garrison, and so it’s no surprise that he fooled Mellen. Fred Crisman is in her book, as is Slidin’ Clyde Johnson, and even the second Oswald makes an appearance. She regurgitates so many stories of so many conspirators that she can’t cobble together any sort of coherent narrative. Patricia Lambert notes that

A Farewell to Justice is not an easy read. The book’s epic-size cast sometimes renders the narrative incoherent. New characters appear at a dizzying rate, vast numbers of whom are said to be CIA connected—CIA operatives, CIA media assets, CIA agents, CIA employees. Affixing the CIA label to as many lapels as possible (regardless of how flimsy the evidence), appears to be a central goal of this book, the assumption being that no such association could possibly be innocent or, God forbid, patriotically inspired.”

Unreliable Witnesses

The three books are quite incestuous and include many of the same stories, sometimes with absolutely no documentation. Take the story of Slidin’ Clyde Johnson as told in Chapter 13. DiEugenio claims that “he was brutally beaten on the eve of the trial and hospitalized.” He references Davy (page 310) and Mellen (page 301). Mellen writes that “on the day before he was scheduled to testify, Clyde Johnson was beaten up so badly he had to be hospitalized.” Her only reference is to the Times-Picayune in July 24, 1969. But they report that a few days before Shaw went on trial, Johnson held a press conference in New Orleans and said, “I’m the ace-in-the-hole in Garrison’s case.” One day later he was arrested by police for refusing to pay his bill at the Roosevelt Hotel. The Davy book says that “In February of 1969, he was severely beaten and never testified.” He offers no footnote.

It takes chutzpah to argue that Clay Shaw was involved in the JFK assassination, but all three books take a shot. This means they thus have to prove that Shaw was Clay Bertrand (see Chapter 3). Unfortunately, they all prefer quantity over quality; they present many witnesses to support their case, but none that have any credibility.

DiEugenio and Mellen claim that Dean Andrews privately admitted to Warren Commission critic Harold Weisberg that Shaw was Bertrand. Remember, Andrews was always adamant that Shaw was not Bertrand (see Chapter 3). In May 2001, Joan Mellen wrote to Weisberg and asked him if he remembered the details of his conversation with Andrews. He replied:

“Andrews told me that Shaw was Bertrand without putting it that way. We were in his office discussing some of the evidence, what I now do not recall, when Andrews said, approximately these words, “If the Green Giant gets past that, he is home clear.”

Now, Dean Andrews might have been a hip, jive-talkin’ attorney, to be sure, but it seems to me that Weisberg read just a little too much into his words.

Joan Mellen

Another DiEugenio witness is Leander D’avy, whose interview with Garrison’s staffers he found to be “utterly fascinating.” He worked at a restaurant and bar, The Court of the Two Sisters, and claimed that Oswald walked in one night and asked for Clay Bertrand and that Clay Shaw frequented the place. In 1977, D’avy was deposed by the HSCA, and he recalled that about two weeks before the assassination, he had gone in on a Saturday morning to pick up his check. He was sent to the storeroom, which he said was actually a little apartment, and guess who was there? Lee Harvey Oswald was lying across the bed. David Ferrie was there, and yes, the three tramps were there as well.

He saw other people too. Jack Ruby once parked in a loading zone in front of the restaurant and slapped D’avy in the face when he complained. Fred Crisman came around “almost every week” in 1963. Even Thomas Beckham was in the restaurant. It’s not surprising that HSCA investigators thought there were “serious questions about his credibility.”

Then there is William Morris who “signed an affidavit he knew Shaw as Clay Bertrand.” Morris was interviewed in 1967 while an inmate at the Wynne State Prison Farm in Texas. He claimed that Shaw worked for General Electric and that he lived with his mother, which were both untrue. Morris was six feet tall but said he was taller than Bertrand, forgetting that Shaw was quite tall at 6’4”. Further, he claimed that Bertrand brought had Jack Ruby to his apartment. Is there any wonder why he didn’t testify at the Shaw trial?

DiEugenio claims that Clay Shaw’s maid Virginia Johnson said that “a man who stayed with Shaw on several occasions told her that Shaw had used the name of Bertrand.” However, Johnson’s statement says something quite different: yes, she had heard the name Bertrand, but she wasn’t quite sure of the details. Lots of people were talking to her; she had conversations at a fabric class about the case, but “When asked if Mr. Formadol [sic] [she was clearly talking about Shaw’s friend William Formyduval] referred to Mr. Shaw as Bertrand, she stated no.” Garrison’s investigators went back several months later for another interview, and this time she said that “she had never heard the name, Bertrand.”

Then there is Mrs. Jessie Parker, who testified that she had seen Shaw at the Eastern Airlines VIP Room at Moisant Airport and that he had signed the guest book as Clay Bertrand. But DiEugenio neglects to tell his readers that Shaw was supposedly with a group of visitors from Venezuela who were accompanied by U.S. State Department employees and a military escort. The military man did not recognize a photo of Shaw as the man in the VIP room. One of the State Department employees did recognize Shaw’s picture but only because he knew Shaw professionally, and he said Shaw was not at the airport.[1]

Yet another DiEugenio witness is Thomas Breitner, who “said that, on Shaw’s trip to San Francisco, he visited the University of California and he introduced himself as Bertram.” You can see Turner’s report below—you have to love the last paragraph. Breitner could only have gotten the name Clem from the media since Perry Russo was the only person to use that name for Clay Bertrand.

Breitner called the Berkeley Police Department in April 1965 insisting that his wife had attempted to kill him by means of putting “a poisonous powder” in his soup. He made a series of phone calls in February 1968 to the FBI claiming that his life had been threatened by people who were manufacturing miniature darts treated with poison. He wrote another letter in 1969 about CIA harassment. Of course, Garrison did not dare put Breitner on the witness stand.

As for Perry Russo, Garrison’s chief witness against Clay Shaw, DiEugenio completely ignores damaging material. When Russo was first questioned in Baton Rouge, he didn’t say a word about Shaw being part of a conspiracy and said he had only briefly met Shaw twice. All that changed when he was brought to New Orleans, administered sodium pentothal, then hypnotized during three sessions. DiEugenio leaves all this out, making it appear that Russo had told one consistent story from the beginning. James Phelan wrote to DiEugenio’s publisher and said that “this requires him to censor extensive passages of the trial record and eliminate the cause of Garrison’s court disaster.”

Quotes Out of Context

Since they can’t prove that Shaw was Bertrand, well, these authors just make incriminating stuff up. For instance, DiEugenio makes a big deal out of an entry in Clay Shaw’s notebook. “Although the entire book listed addresses and phone numbers, on one otherwise blank page were scrawled two abbreviations ‘Oct.’ and ‘Nov.’ and next to those, the word ‘Dallas.’” This claim was taken, almost word-for-word, from Garrison’s book. The actual page from Shaw’s notebook is shown below, and it’s not quite as advertised. Is there something nefarious that I am missing?

Of course, taking all context out of documents is a DiEugenio specialty. In the summer of 1977, as indicated in Chapter 17, Garrison met with investigators from the HSCA for about a week. Jonathan Blackmer, the lead attorney looking into New Orleans, reported on this in a lengthy memo in which he listed Garrison’s main suspects. They were at the front end investigating Garrison’s leads, and you can see that when he wrote that “Garrison is putting together a file on Clay Shaw which he will forward to the Select Committee upon completion.” Garrison’s files on David Ferrie were being indexed by Patricia Orr, an HSCA staffer.

The section on Clay Shaw says that “Garrison believes Shaw was part of a conspiracy whose ultimate goal was the assassination of JFK.” Blackmer is just repeating what Garrison told him, and then he writes:

 “We have reason to believe that Shaw was heavily involved in the anti-Castro efforts in New Orleans in the 1960’s and possibly one of the high-level planners or “cut out” to the planners of the assassination.”

The section concludes that “further information about Shaw will be developed as we receive it from Garrison” and that “we are still developing a partial witness list for Shaw.”

DiEugenio quotes the statement above about Shaw being a planner and, by removing all context, makes it look like an HSCA conclusion as opposed to a Garrison belief. Needless to say, the HSCA Final Report didn’t mention any of this.

Investigation “Penetrated?”

Of course, the real reason Garrison lost his case against Shaw was not his lack of evidence. No, DiEugenio believes there was a “three-stage program to destruct Garrison’s case and to be make sure Shaw would be acquitted.”

The first stage consisted of “singleton” penetrations of his office to disrupt from within. William Gurvich was Garrison’s chief investigator who quit in disgust in June 1967. But really, it is claimed, he was CIA. The evidence? Well, his father was an FBI agent, but here’s the kicker: Gurvich’s niece told a JFK critic whom she had met on holiday that “he did some work for the CIA.” Gordon Novel, the scam artist who tricked Garrison into hiring him as his electronic security chief, was an “experienced CIA operative” who “became a good target for Allen Dulles to hire to infiltrate Garrison’s office.”[2] Nice story, just no evidence. DiEugenio tries to make the case that Novel’s lawyers were paid by the CIA. But the papers of Elmer Gertz, Novel’s lawyer in his libel case against Playboy magazine and Jim Garrison, contain hundreds of letters demanding payment from Novel and threatening to end the case.

Jim DiEugenio

The second stage was the use of “intelligence assets/journalists” like James Phelan, Hugh Aynesworth, and Walter Sheridan to wreck Garrison. Sheridan produced the NBC documentary on the Garrison investigation (see Chapter 7). DiEugenio believes that the CIA funneled money to him to defer production costs and that a “covert team was assembled” around Sheridan. But Sheridan was a long-time “trusted Kennedy family operative, loyalist, and staffer for three decades.” When he died, Edward Kennedy said he was “an extraordinary investigator and an extraordinary human being. His courage and dedication to justice and the public interest were unmatched by anyone.” Incredibly, DiEugenio believes that a long-time friend of the Kennedy family would let JFK’s murderers go free.

James Phelan was the journalist Garrison confided in in Las Vegas. He realized that Perry Russo’s initial statements in Baton Rouge did not contain the conspiracy story he had spun in New Orleans. But had Phelan wanted to harm Garrison, he could have gone straight to Shaw’s attorneys with this information. Instead, he went back to Garrison to confront him with the inconsistent stories. To DiEugenio, Phelan was “on a mission” and was an “intelligence asset.” Another nice story and, again, no evidence.

Hugh Aynesworth is one of the finest journalists of our time. He covered every angle of the JFK assassination, from Dealey Plaza to Jack Ruby’s trial, and he was also an early confidante of Jim Garrison’s. His big crime was helping Shaw’s attorneys, and naturally DiEugenio believes Aynesworth was CIA. His proof? Aynesworth tried to get into Cuba in 1962 and told the contact division of the CIA he would provide information (the CIA memo is below).

Harold Weisberg wrote to Joan Mellen in April 2000 and said, “The CIA did not have to penetrate Garrison. He provided his own endless insanities.” In another letter to her, he wrote, “Nobody had to do a thing to him. He did more than enough to himself.”

David Reitzes, one of the best researchers of the Garrison fiasco, sums it up best.

“Faced with the fact that several people who worked with Garrison quit and went public with their disagreement, the Garrisonites explain that these people were spies anyway. Faced with Big Jim's wild, constantly changing theories and enthusiasms, they explain that the spooks were feeding him disinformation. Faced with the negative press coverage he garnered, they explain that this was a "media campaign" against him. Faced with witnesses who fled New Orleans and refused to cooperate, they see the nefarious hand of conspirators undermining the DA’s case. To vindicate Garrison, they have to implicate virtually everybody else as a spook.”

CIA Intervention?

The last stage, according to DiEugenio, was run by the CIA itself through people like James Angleton and Richard Helms. They set up a “Garrison Group” within the CIA, and they “quashed subpoenas,” “flipped witnesses,” and “physically assaulted witnesses.” This was all in CIA documents “that originated in the office of [CIA Director] Richard Helms.” Robert Tanenbaum, former deputy chief counsel of the HSCA, told DiEugenio he had seen these documents. Unfortunately, they have simply vanished into thin air.[3]

The CIA, under directions from the Justice Department, did nothing to help Clay Shaw and did not interfere with the Garrison investigation. Here’s the real story:

Ramsey Clark, attorney general at the time, took an interest in the Garrison investigation from the beginning and asked the FBI to inform him if anything interesting develops. Lyndon Johnson called up Clark to make sure there was no “interfering or obstruction” of Garrison’s investigation, lest he start claiming the government was engaged in a cover-up. If any evidence of value turned up, he wanted to know. Clark called Johnson when David Ferrie died and told him that the Garrison investigation “from every indication … every piece of evidence that we had indicate[d that] highly erratic people were involved … [and there’s no] factual basis to support any of it.”

The CIA was also watching, and a June 1967 memo says Garrison had “attacked CIA more vehemently, viciously, and mendaciously than any other American official or private citizen whose comments have come to our attention. In fact, he outstripped the foreign Communist press, which is now quoting him delightedly.”

Clay Shaw’s legal team felt he was up against a “stacked deck.” In August 1967, they learned that one of their investigators was leaking information back to Garrison. And facing them was a juggernaut: Garrison had private money for his investigation, full control of the New Orleans legal system, and the resources of local and state police on call, all with little oversight. On top of this, Shaw’s spiraling costs for private investigators were eating into his nest egg, and his friends and family were scared. Who else might Garrison charge with conspiracy? So Shaw’s attorneys decided to go to Washington in September 1967 for help.

Wegmann and Dymond met with Jack Miller, a former assistant attorney general, who agreed to help them. They wanted to meet with anybody at the CIA who could “steer them to the true facts and circumstances” relating to Garrison’s charges regarding the agency. Miller then spoke to the CIA’s general counsel Lawrence Houston, who then discovered that the Department of Justice did “not want the Agency to contact Shaw’s lawyers, but rather to maintain the safety of our executive privilege.”

On September 21, 1967, Wegmann and Dymond met with Nathaniel Kossack, the first assistant in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, and gave him a list of people that Garrison might involve in the Shaw trial. Ramsey Clark was told that Wegmann and Dymond “presented a strong plea for investigative assistance and cooperation to help them refute charges that are otherwise unanswerable. Ultimately, their objective is access to information in the CIA files. Mr. Kossack said only that he would communicate with them further, without any pledge of assistance.”

Donovan Pratt of the CIA wrote a memo for the record saying that “if Garrison learned of federal assistance to Shaw’s lawyers, he’d play it to the hilt.” He suggested that “Mr. Houston advise Mr. Kossack to tell Mr. Miller to propose to Shaw’s lawyers that they study the first volume [of the Warren Report], at least with care … If Shaw’s lawyers are confused by Garrison’s smoke screen, a careful study of the report ought to set them straight again.”

The CIA had already set up a new committee called the Garrison Group, which met three times in September 1967 to address a major dilemma. Several people involved in the Garrison investigation had links to the CIA from their involvement in the fight against Castro. Others were falsely linked, but the CIA could not deny those claims without addressing the real ones. And the elephant in the room was Clay Shaw’s relationship as a contact of the domestic contact service from 1948 to 1956, something that Shaw’s lawyers did not even know about.

“In view of this dilemma, the Department of Justice has so far taken the position that if any effort is made by either the prosecution or defense to involve CIA in the trial, the Government will claim executive privilege. This, too can be turned by Garrison into a claim that is part of the whole cover up by the establishment and particularly by CIA. No alternative to the claim of privilege appears to be available.”

Therefore, “the Government cannot take any action publicly to refute Garrison’s claims and the testimony of his witnesses, as the Louisiana judge would almost certainly take the position that any such public statement would negate the privilege.” So “there is no action we can recommend for the Director of the Agency to take.”

This presented a problem in that Clay Shaw’s “lawyers have no way of refuting these stories except by attacking the credibility of the witnesses or introducing other witnesses to impeach their stories. They have so far no Government information which they can use for this purpose.” Lastly, Houston wrote that “if during the trial it appears that Shaw may be convicted on information that could be refuted by CIA, we may be in for some difficult decisions.”

Federal Government Stands Aside

Shaw’s attorneys also failed with the FBI. On March 9, 1967, Wegmann phoned Robert Wick in the FBI’s public affairs office. He wanted Washington HQ to “instruct the New Orleans office … to cooperate … in supplying a ‘rap sheet’ (criminal or arrest record) of the individual Garrison names as the informant against Shaw.” The FBI refused to help.[4]

FBI document 62-109060-4772, dated March 9, 1967.

In April, the FBI learned of Wegmann’s wish to travel to Washington in order to discuss “the situation” with the director. He was informed that due to Hoover’s busy schedule, other officials at the Bureau handled such matters. The memo concluded by stating that the FBI would be happy to accept any information on the assassination that Wegmann could provide but that “the Bureau would not be able to offer Wegmann any assistance of any kind.”

None of this was surprising given that the FBI was sitting on reports that Garrison had falsified his National Guard drill certifications—in other words, he had been fraudulently paid. Two sources reported this to the FBI, but as can be seen below, they decided to do nothing. Garrison resigned his commission.

FBI memo dated May 16, 1967, from Branigan to Sullivan regarding James C. Garrison’s fraud against the government.

Wegmann told author Patricia Lambert that he had managed to arrange a meeting with Robert Kennedy but that nothing had happened. Dymond and Wegmann then drafted a lengthy civil rights complaint to John Doar, assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, which included details of Garrison’s bribery offers to Leemans and Beauboeuf (see Chapter 7). On March 21, 1968, they met with Stephen Pollak and John Kirby of the Civil Rights Division, who told them that “there was no basis for our conducting an investigation … that while [the Justice Department] does not endorse the methods which Wegmann alleges Garrison has used in this prosecution, that there does not appear to be a statutory basis for our proceeding at the present time.” Wegmann threatened to go public with his civil rights complaint, but Pollak agreed to review the materials one more time.

Wegmann was puzzled about their reasons for refusing to proceed and wrote them a letter that expressed his anger and disappointment.

“It is my opinion that the facts outlined … as supported and corroborated by the documents furnished to you, establish beyond any question of a doubt that the District Attorney’s case against Clay Shaw is pure fiction and that he is the victim of an unscrupulous and unconscionable public prosecutor … Certainly there can be no doubt but that the facts presented … warrant nothing less than an investigation of the situation by the Department or such other government agency as is appropriate.”

On March 28, 1968, Pollak responded and said that “there is presently no basis for departmental investigation of your charges.” Shaw’s lawyers then filed a forty-five-page complaint in the US District Court in New Orleans asking it to provide “sanctuary” for Shaw and to grant “injunctive relief” against Garrison. Ultimately, this all failed—the court dismissed the complaint, and this was later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

After Shaw was charged with perjury in 1969, Shaw’s attorneys filed another civil rights complaint. David Bonderman, part of Richard Nixon’s new team at the DOJ, reviewed the request and claimed that “prosecutorial discretion covers at least the right to made bad, erroneous, and even silly decisions,” but that “does not extend to bribing witnesses to give false testimony.” He believed there was a legal basis for the DOJ to intervene but wished it could have been investigated back in 1967. He decided not to proceed, citing “the general problems in getting involved in the Garrison probe.” Patricia Lambert notes that “his memorandum shows Department of Justice officials so determined to keep their distance from Garrison that they abrogated their responsibility, statutory and moral, to Clay Shaw. They simply threw him to the wolves.”

Bereft of any sort of valid conspiracy in the assassination, the Garrisonites cannot sustain their view that Kennedy was a martyr of his politics. Even so, they get his politics all wrong. His administration was waging war against Castro, including assassination attempts against Castro managed by the CIA with help from the mob and anti-Castro Cubans. The CIA was compelled to protect such a potentially explosive secret; it was no wonder that they were watching Garrison.

The Real New Orleans Connection

Garrison was right to think that New Orleans just might have been the incubator for the assassination, but not in the way he imagined. In June 1963, the Kennedy administration decided to step up covert operations inside Cuba. In August, anti-Castro Cubans shelled a Cuban factory. On September 5 two planes dropped bombs on Cuba, after which Fidel Castro gave an important interview on September 7. In it, he denounced “U.S.-prompted raids” and warned that “we are prepared to fight them and answer in kind. United States leaders should think that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, they themselves will not be safe.”

Castro’s interview was reported in the Times-Picayune, which Oswald most assuredly read. Author Jean Davison believes that, to Oswald, this might have seemed “like the king’s outcry against Becket: Who will rid me of this man?” In late September, Oswald visited the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City trying to get a visa to Cuba. He was turned away, and this must have added to his anger. He returned to New Orleans, moved to Dallas, and happened to get a job in a building where Kennedy’s motorcade would pass. Strictly by chance, Oswald was able to strike a blow for the revolution.

While this was happening, the CIA was contacting a Cuban official, Rolando Cubela (code-named AM/LASH) to kill Castro and precipitate a coup. He wouldn’t proceed until he received a message from top officials in the U.S. government, and one was embedded in Kennedy’s speech in Miami on November 18, 1963. A poison pen letter was delivered to Cubela on the same day Kennedy was assassinated.

To be fair, Kennedy also appeared to extend the hand of friendship to Castro through the efforts of William Attwood, who worked in the U.S. mission at the U.N. He had been told that Castro would make “substantial concessions” to the U.S. for normalization. Two journalists, Lisa Howard and Jean Daniel, made contact with Cuban officials. But Richard Helms, director of the CIA, told Congress that the accommodation effort was a “feint” and that the administration’s genuine efforts were focused on covert action.

Researcher Gus Russo writes that Garrison came close to figuring it all out but got it backward.

“Garrison was appallingly close to the heart of the coverup, but due to his immense ego and hatred of the government, he chose to see everything in reverse: 544 Camp St. was key to the case, but Garrison refused to see the obvious—Arcacha and the Cuban Revolutionary Council worked hand-in-glove with Bobby Kennedy and the White House; the camps on Lake Pontchartrain of which Garrison was aware, were a cog in the Central American plan of the Artime/Kennedy liaison, not part of an anti-Kennedy clique; Garrison was well-aware of the Rosselli admissions of the White house-backed anti-Castro plots.”

Paul Hoch speculated that “the reason the CIA was so upset about Garrison was the threat he posed to the CIA’s mob connections, specifically the AM/LASH operation, the efforts to kill Castro, which in 1967 were a big secret. If Garrison pulled on the Anti-Castro Cuban thread there was a risk of unraveling all that.”

Moving to Anti-Zionism

The viciousness of the Garrisonites had now morphed into anti-Zionism. In 2018, a new book by Michele Metta, CMC: The Italian Undercover CIA and Mossad Station and the Assassination of JFK, ties Israel into the Permindex story. Metta quotes a paragraph on George Mantello from a CIA document on Permindex.

But why wouldn’t the Israelis contact Mantello? He had saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust and had intimate knowledge of Jewish displaced persons in Europe. From 1948 onward, thousands of Jews left Europe for the new state of Israel. There was nothing shameful about working with the Israelis. The fact that Metta sees this relationship as nefarious tells us more about Metta than Mantello.

Metta goes further and states that in 1967 the brother of Shimon Peres, Gershon Peres, joined the Board of CMC. Why is this relevant? Well, David Ben-Gurion was prime minister of Israel when Kennedy was president. Shimon Peres was his “right-hand man,” and “Peres’ determination to reach the goal of an Israeli nuclear arsenal was absolutely no less callous than that of Ben-Gurion himself.” Kennedy was opposed to Israel obtaining the nuclear bomb, and “the leaders of the Jewish state saw Kennedy as the enemy.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel found itself isolated in the 1950s as the United States under Eisenhower kept its distance. The US-Israel relationship warmed under Kennedy, and Israel started receiving defensive arms from the United States. Facing genocidal neighbors, Israel asked for security guarantees. Kennedy demurred, and Israel made the decision to take her safety and security into her own hands, eventually arming herself with nuclear weapons. No one in Israel saw Kennedy as an enemy.

Metta believes that the people who killed Kennedy were also responsible “for all the wrong-doings that today plague the destiny of Israel, plunging it down into a situation that the Jews exterminated by the gas chambers would certainly be ashamed of.” Is it any wonder that he then tells people they should not shout stupid phrases like “Hitler was right” or “Death to Israelis?” What else would he expect when people read that the Mossad was among the conspirators that killed JFK?

And who do you think wrote a blurb for his front cover? None other than Oliver Stone, who called the book “Important … and it goes to the core of much of my movie I made, which is about fascism.” But what on earth does Oliver Stone know about fascism? After all, he believes that Putin has been a “stabilizing force” in Syria, and bombing hospitals doesn’t seem to concern him. Iran’s support of terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah do not bother him in the least, and he believes that Hugo Chavez was a champion of the people of Venezuela. He actually misses Fidel Castro.

No doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more about this because Stone is working with James DiEugenio to adapt Destiny Betrayed into a three-part television documentary scheduled to air in the fall of 2020. He told the press that “This documentary film represents an important bookend to my 1991 film. It ties up many loose threads, and hopefully repudiates much of the ignorance around the case and the movie.”

God help us!

As I am writing this, the world is in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic. When we emerge, serious questions will have to be asked about the future of capitalism and global supply chains, how the thuggish and brutal Communist Party of China initially withheld important information about the transmissibility of the virus, and how we can reform the UN and its agencies to properly defend the rights of democratic peoples around the globe. The last thing any country needs is a populace steeped in conspiracy theories.

But Oliver Stone would rather have us tilt at windmills, and I expect many people will lap it up, all too eager to fawn over a filmmaker who glorified Jim Garrison, a man who used his power and influence to ruin the lives of innocent people.

Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, "Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless."

"What giants?" asked Sancho Panza.

"Those you see over there," replied his master, "with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length."

"Take care, sir," cried Sancho. "Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone."


[1] Harold Weisberg accompanied Assistant DA Andrew Sciambra in Washington to interview witnesses who were certain they had not seen Shaw. Because of the lack of discovery in Louisiana courts, Shaw’s lawyers were not informed of these witnesses.

[2] Novel was never an operative for the CIA. A CIA report from May 31, 1967, said that “Gordon Dwane Novel has both claimed and denied affiliation with CIA. A thorough records check has shown no such affiliation.” The CIA then used alternate spellings of his name and came up negative. They even asked JMWAVE, a secret covert operations center in Miami, to show Novel’s photo “to a well-placed and well-informed asset” to “test the possibility that Novel had been involved in CIA activities under another name.” That also came up negative. Novel’s lawyer Elmer Gertz wrote Edward Wegmann that “you know him well enough to take what he says with at least one grain of salt; I would say a whole salt shaker.”

[3] Tanenbaum claimed to have seen a video Ferrie had taken with Oswald, Banister, and others at an anti-Castro training camp. That video has also disappeared. Tanenbaum resigned from the HSCA after Chief Investigator Richard Sprague was forced out early in the probe.

[4] Attorney General Ramsey Clark stated on March 2, 1967, that Shaw had been cleared by the FBI in 1963. He misspoke and was referring to the fact that the FBI and Warren Commission had looked into the story about a Clay Bertrand. There are no FBI files from 1963 or 1964 that refer to Clay Shaw, which is to be expected since he was not investigated. Hoover wrote on the memo above that “A.G. made the statement, so it is up to the Dept [of Justice] to wrestle with this.”



Notes and Sources


They all suffer from “invincible ignorance”: James Phelan used this term in a telephone conversation with Patricia Lambert on August 11, 1991, Papers of Patricia Lambert. For a good review of William Davy’s book, check out David Reitzes’ review,

Patricia Lambert on Joan Mellen:

DiEugenio on Clyde Johnson: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 294.

Mellen on Clyde Johnson: Mellen, op. cit., page 300-301.

Davy on Clyde Johnson: Davy, op. cit., page 310.

Joan Mellen letter to Harold Weisberg: Letter dated May 7, 2001, Harold Weisberg Archive

Weisberg reply to Joan Mellen: Letter dated June 20, 2001, Harold Weisberg Archive, link above.

James DiEugenio on Leander D’avy: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 387; Researcher Tracy Parnell has also written about D’avy,

Leander D’avy deposition to the HSCA: Interview of Leander D’avy by Belford Lawson and Jack Moriarty, dated June 23, 1977, RIF # 180-10108-10188, NARA.

Leander D’avy on Jack Ruby: Memo from Belford Lawson to Robert Tanenbaum dated July 8, 1977, regarding Alleged Anti-JFK Co-conspirators in the New Orleans area; Eyewitness Account of a Meeting with LHO, David Ferrie, and Three Tramps, RIF # 180-10087-10474, NARA.

Leander D’avy on Fred Crisman: Interview of Leander D’avy by Bob Buras and L. J. Delsa on December 16, 1977. RIF # 180-10114-10154, NARA.

Questions about D’avy’s credibility: July 8, 1977, memo from Belford Lawson, op.cit.

William Morris signed an affidavit: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 210.

William Morris interview: Dated July 12, 1967, interview of William Morris by William Boxley and William Martin at the Wynne State Farm, Texas Department of Corrections, Papers of Jim Garrison, NARA, op. cit.

DiEugenio on Virginia Johnson: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 387.

Virginia Johnson statement: Memo dated March 22, 1967, from C. J. Navarre, Investigator to Louis Ivon regarding Interview Mrs. Virginia Johnson, Papers of Edward Wegmann, NARA.

Second Virginia Johnson interview: Memo from Gary Sanders, Investigator to Louis Ivon regarding Virginia Johnson, Clay Shaw’s Maid, dated January 16, 1968, NARA.

Mrs. Jessie Parker testimony: Her testimony was not transcribed, but is described by James Kirkwood in his book, American Grotesque, pages 348-350.

Military escort at VIP Room: Memo from Andrew Sciambra to Jim Garrison dated April 2, 1968, regarding Interview with Captain John Warren, Papers of Irvin Dymond.

One employee did recognize Shaw’s picture: Memo from Andrew Sciambra to Jim Garrison dated April 2, 1968, regarding Interview with Mr. Theodore Herrera, State Department, Papers of Irvin Dymond; Memo from Andrew Sciambra to Jim Garrison dated April 2, 1968, regarding Interview with Mr. and Mrs. Ross Pope. He picked out Gordon Novel as the man he saw at the airport, Papers of Irvin Dymond; Memo from James Alcock to Jim Garrison dated November 17, 1967, regarding Mr. Alfred Moran, Papers of Edward Wegmann, NARA.

Turner memo on Thomas Breitner: Papers of Edward Wegmann, NARA; See also interview report, March 29, 1967 regarding Clay Shaw—Possible contacts in Bay area by Bill Turner, Ibid.

Breitner called the Berkeley Police Department: Memo regarding Thomas Breitner from Holloway Associates to Edward Wegmann dated February 15, 1969, Papers of Edward Wegmann, NARA; there is also another undated memo on Breitner as well.

Breitner’s claim his life was threatened by people with poison darts: Ibid.

Breitner letter about CIA harassment: Secret Service file, RIF # 180-10065-10379, NARA;

James DiEugenio on Perry Russo: DiEugenio, op. cit., pages 217-219.

James Phelan wrote to DiEugenio’s publisher: Letter to Ms. Ellen Ray dated October 9, 1992, Papers of Irvin Dymond.

DiEugenio on Clay Shaw’s notebook: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 237.

Clay Shaw’s notebook in Garrison’s book: Garrison, op. cit., pages 147-148.

Page from Clay Shaw’s notebook: You can find copies of Shaw’s notebook in various sources like the Papers of Gus Russo.

Blackmer’s memo on interview with Garrison and subsequent quotes: Memo from S. Jonathan Blackmer to G. Robert Blakey, dated September 1, 1977, RIF # 180-10105-10199, NARA.

DiEugenio quote about Blackmer’s memo: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 332.

DiEugenio quote on three stage program: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 229.

DiEugenio quote about Gurvich being CIA: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 231.

DiEugenio quote about Novel being an experienced Agency operative: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 232.

DiEugenio quote about Novel being a target for Allen Dulles: Ibid.

DiEugenio on Novel’s lawyers being paid by the CIA: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 263.

DiEugenio’s second stage: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 229.

DiEugenio quote about a “covert team”: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 239.

Sheridan as a “trusted Kennedy family operative”: Quote by David Reitzes,

Edward Kennedy quote about Walter Sheridan: Ibid.

DiEugenio quote about Jim Phelan: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 249.

Hugh Aynesworth trip to Cuba: NARA Record Number: 1994.05.06.08:44:58:780005;

Weisberg letter to Joan Mellen in April 2000: Letter dated April 27, 2000; Harold Weisberg Archive.

Weisberg letter to Mellen with quote “did more than enough to himself”: Letter dated October 18, 2001, Harold Weisberg Archive.

David Reitzes quote:

DiEugenio’s last stage: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 229.

DiEugenio quotes on “quashed subpoenas,” “flipped witnesses,” and “physically assaulted witnesses”: James DiEugenio presentation at CAPA November, 22, 2019;

DiEugenio quote on documents “originated in the office of Richard Helms”: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 294.

Tanenbaum seeing documents which then vanished: Ibid.

Ramsey Clark interest in Garrison investigation: Max Holland, The Kennedy Assassination Tapes: The White House conversations of Lyndon B. Johnson regarding the assassination, the Warren Commission, and the aftermath, (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), pages 389-410.

Lyndon Johnson calling Ramsey Clark: Holland, op. cit., page 389. Quote about “interfering or obstruction” is on page 397.

Clark calling Johnson and quote about “erratic people”: Holland, op. cit., page 402.

CIA memo from June 1967: Memo dated June 6, 1967, regarding Garrison TV interview of 21 May 1967 and 28 May 1967,

Shaw’s legal team felt he was up against a “stacked deck”: Patricia Lambert, “Edward Wegmann and the Bonderman Memorandum,” sample chapter from a book proposal dated June 13, 2005, page 3, Papers of Patricia Lambert.

Wegmann and Dymond meet with Jack Miller: Ibid, page 15.

Quote about “steer them to the true facts”: Ibid, page 16.

Miller speaks with Lawrence Houston: Ibid.

Quote about Department of Justice and “safety of our executive privilege”: CIA memo dated September 26, 1967 regarding Garrison Group Meeting No 2; RIF # 104-10428-10022;

Wegmann and Dymond meet with Nathaniel Kossack: Ibid, also see RIF # 104-10189-10373 titled “Cable re: Clay Shaw attorneys,” which lists the names they would like information on.

Quote about “strong plea for investigative assistance”: Lambert, op. cit., page 18.

CIA memo from Donovan Pratt: Memo dated September 25, 1967, regarding Garrison Investigation;

Pratt’s suggestion to study Warren Report: Ibid.

Quote about executive privilege: Memo dated September 29, 1967, from Lawrence Houston to The Director regarding Clay L. Shaw’s Trial and the Central Intelligence Agency;

Quotes on “no action”: Ibid.

Problem for Clay Shaw’s lawyers: Ibid.

Routing slip from Lawrence Houston dated 2 October 1967:

Wegmann phone call to Robert Wick: Memo from R. E. Wick to Mr. DeLoach dated March 9, 1967;

FBI learns Wegmann wants to come to meet the Director: Memo from A. Rosen to Mr. DeLoach dated April 17, 1967;

Quotes about FBI happy to accept information but could not offer any assistance: Ibid.

Garrison and the falsification of his National Guard record:

Documents related to his National Guard record:

Wegmann meeting with Robert Kennedy: Bonderman memo, op. cit., page 18, Papers of Patricia Lambert, her source is an interview with William Wegmann on October 11, 2004.

Civil rights complaint to John Doar: Letter to John Doar from Edward Wegmann, William Wegmann and Irvin Dymond dated December 1, 1967, Papers of Irvin Dymond.

Wegmann and Dymond meeting with Pollak and Kirby: Bonderman memo, op. cit., page 22.

Quote from letter from Wegmann: Bonderman memo, op. cit., page 24.

Response from Pollak: Ibid.

Shaw complaint to U.S. District Court in New Orleans: Bonderman Memo, op. cit., pages 24-25; Shaw v. Garrison, et al., Civil Action #68-1063, Complaint May 27, 1968.

David Bonderman quotes: Bonderman Memo., op. cit., pages 28-29.

Patricia Lambert quote about throwing Shaw to the wolves: Ibid, page 31.

Kennedy decides to step up covert operations in June 1963: Russo, op. cit., page 162; Davison, Oswald’s Game, (W. W. Norton & Company, 1983), page 180-181.

Anti-Castro Cubans shell a Cuban factory: Davison, op. cit., page 181.

Two planes dropped bombs on Cuba: Ibid, page 182.

Fidel Castro speech on September 7, 1963: “Castro Blasts Raids on Cuba,” The Times-Picayune, September 9, 1963,

Davison quote on Becket: Davison, op. cit., page 183.

Rolando Cubela and his embedded message: Davison, op. cit., page 243; Gus Russo and Stephen Moulton, Brothers In Arms: The Kennedys, The Castros, and the Politics of Murder, (Bloomsbury, 2008), page 12.

Kennedy’s outstretched arm to Cuba: Russo, op. cit., page 234-236.

Richard Helms quote about a “feint”; Russo, op. cit., page 237.

Gus Russo quote on Garrison getting it backward: Gus Russo, “Who is Jim DiEugenio, 1999;

Paul Hoch quote: Patricia Lambert note on conversation with Paul Hoch, dated November 12, 1993, Papers of Patricia Lambert.

Michele Metta, CMC, The Italian Undercover CIA and Mossad Station and The Assassination of JFK, 2018.

CIA document excerpt: RIF # 104-10181-10114,

Metta quotes on Gershom Peres: Metta, op. cit., page 118.

Metta quote on Shimon Peres: Metta, op. cit., page 122-123.

Metta quote on Israeli leaders seeing Kennedy as the enemy: Metta, op. cit., page 123.

Metta quote “plague the destiny of Israel’ and his admonitions: Metta, op. cit., page 168.

Oliver Stone quote on fascism:

Oliver Stone on Syria as a stabilizing force: Jon Gambrell, “US filmmaker Oliver Stone Praises Putin for role in Syria, October 30, 2019,

Destiny Betrayed mini-series:

Tilting at windmills:




Harold Weisberg and VIP Room witnesses: Harold Weisberg Archive,
Document 1
Document 2

CIA report on Gordon Novel: NARA identification number 1993.08.11.10:28:32:840007;

Tanenbaum claim to have seen a video of Oswald and others at training camp: DiEugenio, op. cit., page 116.

J. Edgar Hoover notation on memo:

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