Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions on the JFK Assassination (3): The Garrison Investigation

Introduction: One of the sad outcomes in the aftermath of the JFK assassination was the tarnishing of the reputation and investigation of New Orleans' DA Jim Garrison, from 1967-69. Much of this I attribute to the skullduggery of CIA assets in spreading lies, hearsay muck and misrepresentations about  him, and denigrating his efforts, including use of Operation Mockingbird assets in the media. I lived in New Orleans during the peak of the investigation and many people in the city took it very seriously, not to mention people involved as possible witnesses, or actual witnesses (a number of whom died under mysterious circumstances, including David Ferrie.).    To use the words of one witness, Donald P. Norton:

"Jim Garrison was closer to the truth about conspiracy than anybody has ever been."

I concur with this, and that the origins of the plot were spawned in New Orleans, across a spate of unsavory characters - many with CIA contacts - despite the actual deed being carried out in Dallas. For this reason it's important to at least be aware of some of the aspects of the New Orleans' setting, how Oswald became ensnared and how he was further set up to be the Dallas' patsy.


Was Oswald's involvement in New Orleans, in the Fair Play For Cuba Committee real, or a role?

All indications and evidence - taken in concert - disclose that his involvement was entirely contrived. Let's look at some of the facts, bearing in mind that the political divisions of 'left' and 'right' were alive and quite well at the time, and the right definitely had JFK in their sights, particularly after he federalized the Alabama National  guard to force de-segregation over Gov. Geo. Wallace's howls of protest:

- Guy Banister who ran the 544 Camp Street Office, was an extreme right wing former FBI agent, who published  a right wing rag known as 'The Louisiana Intelligence Digest', who accused JFK of having 'pinko support for blacks', and had informants on the Louisiana State and Tulane campuses[1].

(This author has seen old issues of the LID floating around the Tulane campus on visits-excursions to that campus, as late as Sept. of 1964,  while attending  Loyola University - adjacent to Tulane on St. Charles Ave.).

- Banister maintained the offices in conjunction with the CRC or Cuban Revolutionary Council.  The CRC was "the successor to the Frente Revolutionario Democratico, set up by the CIA in Mexico during the last year of the Eisenhower Administration to overthrow Castro by military force.

-  Oswald himself called into a radio program in Miami ('The Alan Courtney Show', WQAM)  November 12, 1962, declaring his support for the on-air guests (Jerry Patrick et
al) involved with the training of anti-Castro troops. (He used the pseudonym Oswald Lee, however)

- Evidence shows that two different stamp configurations were used for the FPCC handbills Oswald handed out on New Orleans' streets[2]. These were

FPCC  A J Hidell P.O. Box 30016,   and   FPCC  544 Camp Street

According to Prof. John Newman what was presented entailed[3]:

"evidence that was deliberately falsified at the Government Printing Office during the publication of the Warren Commission exhibits."
How do the various New Orleans' locations point to a sheep dipping scenario?

Banister's office at the intersection of Camp St. and Canal,  the building housing the  New Orleans HQ of  intelligence agencies (DIA, ONI), and the Trade Mart were all within 6 blocks of each other ca. 1963. Banister had his office at 544 Camp St., and that's where the FPCC handbills were disseminated from. Oswald earlier worked at 640 Magazine St. (his regular job at Reilly Coffee Co., before he lost it, and did handbill pass outs for Banister). Both Magazine St. and Camp converge on opposite sides of the block, to Canal St.
Lafayette Street runs perpendicularly into Camp and Magazine Streets. No surprise then that Banister could run two operations from the same building: his main office at 531 Lafayette, and the address at 544 Camp (from which Oswald operated). Much has been made of the two entrances being 'sealed' from each other, but that doesn't mean there weren't regular contacts and 'traffic' between the offices. Indeed, Banister may have preferred it thus, to keep his separate operations apart.
As a further note, the Camp St. entrance - directed to the first floor only, was originally the 'Stevedore's & Longshoreman's  Bldg'. Meanwhile the 531 entrance was directed up a flight of stairs, to the 2nd  floor offices of Guy Banister & Associates proper. It was within these 2nd floor offices that Oswald was permitted to 'do his thing' with the FPCC  handbills, nicely sequestered from the right wing realities on the first floor.
Across Lafayette St., the U.S. Post Office Bldg. occupied almost an entire block. The  main part of the building. housed the New Orleans' Secret Service operation, and upstairs, the New Orleans' HQ for ONI. (Office of Naval Intelligence). A few blocks down Canal, from the corner of Magazine, brought you directly to the International Trade Mart, of which Shaw was director. The Crescent Garage, also on Magazine St. was:
"where FBI and other government vehicles were serviced and housed"

From a downtown map (of New Orleans) one can easily see that all these locations are within 1/2 mile of each other.
What interest did Banister have in Lee Harvey Oswald, after the latter left Reilly Coffee Co., to work at the Camp St. office.?  John Newman writes ('Oswald and the CIA', p.309 ):

"What might Banister have used Oswald for? Banister and the extreme right wing in New Orleans had targeted left wing professors at Tulane like La Violette and Reissman and organizations like the New Orleans Council on Peaceful Alternatives (NOCPA), of which Professor Reissman was a member."
Oswald's manipulations, including passing out FPCC handbills, and his altercation on Canal Street with Bringuier  of the CIA-run Cuban Student Directorate (DRE),  not to mention his 'over the top' "Marxist" interview on New Orleans' WDSU-TV, could all have been  orchestrated for the purpose of tarring leftist - leaning academics and organizations throughout the New Orleans area.

Wasn't the Garrison case a total fiasco and didn't it do permanent damage to the conspiracy cause?
Not at all. What isn’t stated when the Garrison case is ever cited, is that the jurors did believe Garrison had proven conspiracy,  it was just that they didn’t think he had "plugged Shaw into it beyond reasonable doubt"[5]. The reason is clear:  the judge in the case "refused to allow the booking officer to testify re: the alias used by Shaw as 'Clay Bertrand'. Had this been allowed, it would’ve been a no-brainer and slam-dunk with Jim Garrison hailed as a champion for truth.
The same would have occurred had a key witness not been intimidated into altering his testimony. Evidently, this witness had been in flight, just prior to his taking the stand, for 14 days and "made 22 calls" to his secretary over that time. According to the secretary, who knew him well: "he was hiding because he was afraid someone was after him.[6].
Years later, with release of files under the JFK Records Act, it would become evident that Shaw was indeed a CIA Contract Agent. As CIA Doc. (JFK 1993: notes:
"A memorandum marked for files says that J. Monroe Sullivan, #280201, was granted a covert security  approval as of 10 December 1962 so he could be used in Project QKENCHANT [Clay L. Shaw has #402897]"
Under the CIA  banner QKENCHANT one is cleared for intelligence procurement. Such clearance meant you were a safe contact  for the Agency and hence could be used as a "cut out" , with the CIA giving you only a certain amount of information. Clay Shaw then, had the ability to recruit other agents, thereby granting them security approvals. From the available files disclosed long after Garrison's efforts ended, Shaw used his QKENCHANT clearance to "plan or coordinate CIA activities" as well as "initiate relationships with non-Agency persons or institutions." In this guise, Shaw was effectively part of the CIA's clandestine services with Covert Security Approval, working under cover. Again, all this came out decades later, thanks to Oliver Stone's film, 'JFK' which infused the firestorm demand for release of files that otherwise would have remained sealed (under LBJ's orders) until 2037 - when most of us pursuing the case were long since dead.
Another little known fact which bore out Garrison's suspicions is that Guy Banister - who ran Oswald at his 544 Camp St. address- was recruited by Shaw under his QKENCHANT clearance. The date of recruitment was for August, 1960 and a CIA document reveals 'Guy Banister Associates, Inc.' was of interest to the Agency for "QKENCHANT purposes".
Years later, the key aspects and findings of Garrison's investigation would be confirmed by Gaeton Fonzi - an investigator in the HSCA's own investigation,  as substantiating Garrison's case that Oswald had been manipulated by the Shaw-Banister operations in New Orleans.  This was at the behest and direction of David Atlee Phillips (see Part 2) and George Joannides.
Sadly, the substantiation came too late to repair Garrison's reputation (after the CIA used assorted assets to tarnish it) - but truth seekers thank him for shedding much needed light after the fiasco of the Warren Commission Whitewash.


[1] Warren Hinckle and William Turner: 1992, The CIA-Mafia War Against Castro and the Assassination   of JFK, Carroll & Graf, p. 231.

[2] Newman, op. cit., p. 307.

[3] Newman, ibid.

[4] Walt Brown: 1995, Treachery in Dallas, Carroll & Graf, . p. 227.

[5] Hinckle and Turner, op. cit., p. 258.

[6] ASU Professor Recalls Famous New Orleans Trial Involving JFK Conspiracy', The Mountain News, January 16, 1992, p. 13

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