In the field of JFK assassination studies, those who advocate for the Warren Commission have always had a special and personal problem with Jim Garrison. After all, the New Orleans DA was an elected official who did not just challenge the Warren Commission; he actually put together an alternative theory of Kennedy’s assassination. That theory created intense interest and attracted a public following.
This created a serious problem for the MSM. The press had embraced the Warren Report, all 800 pages of it. Now came an accomplished District Attorney who was saying that their much-ballyhooed report on the death of President Kennedy was rubbish. By doing that, Garrison was not just upsetting the MSM’s apple cart, but also the FBI, the Secret Service and the White House. After all, they had all cooperated and worked for several months on this much anticipated report. Could they all have been so easily taken in by the Dallas Police? Or was there something else at work? Perhaps a deliberate cover-up? If so, why? What could be behind such an evil act and its elaborate concealment?
By raising these questions, Garrison was upsetting the establishment. Therefore, he was harshly attacked by all elements of the power structure. Almost no one in the media—except the LA Free Press, Ramparts and Playboy magazines—gave him a fair hearing. Every major newspaper, magazine, and TV network discounted or attacked him—none treated him fairly or even handedly. Elements of the government illegally spied on him, sent infiltrators into his camp, wired his office, tapped his phone, and launched subversive operations against his investigative efforts. (See William Davy, Let Justice be Done, Chapter 12) When Garrison complained about these actions, the MSM ignored him. Today, after the disclosures of the Assassination Records Review Board, they cannot be ignored. For the simple matter that the acts of subversion can now be proven with declassified documents.
There is another important element to the cacophony enveloping New Orleans that has also been revealed. That is the incessant efforts of Clay Shaw’s attorneys to enlist as much help as possible from Washington DC. (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, second edition, pp. 261-78) What makes this secret solicitation so curious is that, for two solid years, the media portrait of Shaw was that he was as clean as the driven snow. If such were the case, then why were Shaw’s lawyers so desperate for help from the CIA and the FBI? And why did the Agency and Bureau give it to them? Was there something that those two executive intelligence agencies knew that they weren’t telling the public? If so, what was it?
Through the ARRB, we have now discovered that there was a lot to hide about Clay Shaw. And neither the FBI nor the CIA had planned on letting the public know about it. If not for the ruckus created by Oliver Stone’s 1991 film JFK, no one may have ever discovered any of it.
Now comes one Fred Litwin. Litwin has written two books. They have both publication and thematic similarities. The first was called Conservative Confidential. That book is about his coming out as a gay man and also traveling politically from left to right, eventually emerging as an activist conservative in the gay community in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. What I found interesting about the first book is that, although I had never heard of Litwin, evidently some powerful people had. The book was blurbed by the likes of Conrad Black, and Daniel Pipes. Black is a former international newspaper magnate who was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice in America and banned from running a company or serving on any boards in Ontario. Pipes is a rightwing veteran of several think tanks who wrote a book labeling almost anyone who believes in political conspiracies as being inherently paranoid. In Chapter 1, Pipes specifically pointed to the African American community. Nice fan base. After making a lot of money in the computer field, Litwin is involved in lecture presentations, music, film festivals and publishing today. (For an example of the people he sponsors, go here)
Litwin’s second book is called I Was a Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak. Like his first, it was published through his own company, Northern Blues. From the title, one does not need much explication as to the similarity in theme. With the JFK case, as with his politics, Litwin has now seen the light. Like St. Paul on the way to Damascus, he had a vision. Except, unlike with Paul, his was not of a vision of a resurrected Christ appearing before him. It was Lee Harvey Oswald firing three shots in six seconds from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository; scoring two of three direct hits to the head and shoulder area of JFK. A feat that, without cheating, no expert has ever been able to duplicate. One of those bullets went through Kennedy’s back, rising upward slightly, even though it was originally traveling downward. Without striking bone, it then went left to right, even though it was fired from right to left. It made a perforating exit from Kennedy’s neck, one that was smaller than its entrance—even though exits are supposed to be larger. It then went through Connally’s body and as it exited his chest it veered right towards his wrist, and then deflected left into his thigh. It emerged from his thigh and was found in the rim of a stretcher, except no one knows whose stretcher it was. (The Impossible One-Day Journey of CE 399; see also Was the CE 399 Magic Bullet Planted?)
When it was found there was almost no deformation of the bullet, and no blood or tissue on it. After smashing two bones in Connally, it was missing only three grains of its mass. (WC Vol. III pp. 428-30) As Gary Aguilar and Josiah Thompson have shown, CE 399 was so specious as evidence that the FBI had to lie about its identification. (The Magic Bullet: Even More Magical Than We Knew?) As others have said, to believe all this, one must have had some kind of religious experience. Especially if one did not buy into it at first.
But there is another oddity about Litwin. The present author has been in this field for going on three decades. I have read a rather large amount of material on the subject. This includes research journals from both America and abroad. I do not recall coming across Mr. Litwin’s name in any of them. Apparently, the man kept his beliefs about a JFK plot rather close to his vest.
I am not going to deal with the entirety of Litwin’s book. Anyone who can propagate that the evidence for more than one gunman in the JFK case has weakened over time does not deserve extended scrutiny. Neither does anyone who is on friendly terms with the likes of Daniel Pipes. But there is a chapter of Litwin’s book available online. It happens to be his chapter on Jim Garrison. Since that is 16 downloadable pages, it should serve as an example of the quality of his work.
As I have previously said in dealing with the anti-Garrison crowd, if there was one area that the Assassination Records Review Board did a decent job on, it was in declassifying a lot of interesting documents on the New Orleans aspect of the Kennedy case. In two previous review essays on the subject, I have been critical of the fact that none of these documents were anywhere to be seen in the work under discussion. Specifically, this would include the essay by Don Carpenter at Max Holland’s site (Max Holland and Donald Carpenter vs Jim Garrison and the ARRB), and Alecia Long’s essay at 64 Parishes (Jim Garrison: The Beat Goes On).
Litwin continues to manifest that revealing trait. In the 16 pages, I could find no evidence that he used even one single piece of declassified documentation. When an author does this, it immediately tells the reader much more about him than the writer’s ostensible subject. That is, Mr. Litwin does not give one iota about the declassified record. He is not interested in what the new information is. He does not want to know what the CIA and FBI knew about Clay Shaw back in the sixties, or why it was deemed so taboo that the public had to be kept in the dark about it.
Which leaves us with two alternative theorems. Either Litwin does not know about this new information; or he does know about it but does not want the reader to be aware of it. Both explanations are pretty unappetizing. But they tell us much about Litwin and his book.
By the third paragraph, the author exposes the serious fault lines in his work. He writes that Jim Garrison cracked down on vice in the French Quarter by raiding gay bars. How anyone can write something like that is incomprehensible. Once Garrison became famous through the exposure of his JFK inquiry, many people wrote about this 1962 crusade. Almost ten years ago, there was a book written on the subject by author James Savage. What Garrison was cracking down on was a racket called ‘B girl drinking’. The B-girl would sit with a male customer and, as long as he paid for the liquor, she would entice him with hints of sex to be had. (Washington Post, 2/10/63) The girl’s drinks would be very watered down, and as the mark got inebriated, the host would then shortchange him. Afterwards, the poor guy was taken to a cab to get to his hotel; the house got 2/3 of the take, the girl got 1/3.
I would like to ask Mr. Litwin the obvious question he is seemingly unaware of: If the racket involved a female employee with a male customer, how could these be gay bars?
What Litwin does next is as bad as the above. He does all he can to denigrate the value of the information that Jack Martin relayed to Garrison’s office within 48 hours after the assassination. For instance, he does not fully explicate why Guy Banister exploded and pistol-whipped his former investigator/employee Mr. Martin. Martin had made some rather incriminating comments, like implicating Banister in the Kennedy assassination. Martin specifically said: “What are you going to do—kill me like you all did Kennedy?” Martin later said that if Banister’s secretary had not intervened, he thought Banister might have killed him. (HSCA Volume 10, p. 130) After the assault, Banister threw some money at his victim. On his way to the hospital, Martin told an acquaintance: “The dirty Nazi bastards did it to him in Texas, and to me here.” (Affidavit of Martin and David Lewis to Jim Garrison 2/30/68)
Since Martin was describing events on the day of the assassination, who does Litwin think Martin was referring to when he said, “Did it to him in Texas?” In light of the Martin’s previous comment, it was probably President Kennedy.
What was the specific reason for Banister’s assault? Again, Litwin does not fully reveal that aspect. As Garrison’s staff later discovered, the FBI in New Orleans—namely agent Regis Kennedy—later thought that Martin might have pilfered Banister’s files on Oswald. (Garrison memorandum from Andrew Sciambra, 10/28/68) In fact, a part-time employee at Banister’s office, Mary Brengel, told the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) that she felt that both Banister and his secretary Delphine Roberts knew what was going to happen in Texas that day. (HSCA interview of 4/6/78)
It was Roberts who rescued Martin. Banister then swore her to secrecy and kept her out of the office after the bloody incident with Martin. (Anthony Summers, Conspiracy, p. 294) So when Garrison interviewed her, she was tight-lipped. Later she did reveal things to the HSCA, specifically to investigator Bob Buras. On his second attempt to get her to talk to him, Roberts told Buras that Oswald was at Banister’s office and had a few private meetings with him. He was allowed to use a second floor room to print up his anti-Castro materials. (HSCA interview of 7/6/78) Reporter Scott Malone later found a corroborating witness for this information. Brengel told him that Roberts said Oswald had been at 544 Camp Street, Banister’s office, that summer. (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, second edition, p. 111) When this author interviewed another Banister employee, Dan Campbell, he also revealed that Oswald had been in Banister’s office that summer. In a separate interview with this writer, so did his brother Allen. (Destiny Betrayed, p. 112)
In other words, it makes perfect sense for Banister to have had a file on Oswald and for Martin to be interested in it on the day of the assassination. It also follows that, as Roberts told Buras, Banister was upset when he heard that Oswald had handed out flyers in New Orleans with Banister’s office address of 544 Camp Street on them. (HSCA Buras interview.)
Litwin’s depiction of David Ferrie is about as limited and dubious as his work on Banister. Litwin writes that when the FBI and Secret Service questioned Ferrie, he denied knowing Oswald, or having anything to do with Kennedy’s assassination. Litwin leaves it at that. Which is rather uncurious of him. For as anyone who reads Ferrie’s FBI statement has to acknowledge, Ferrie lied his head off to the Bureau. And it is hard to buy the argument that they did not know he was lying. For instance, Ferrie said he never owned a rifle with a telescopic sight and would not know how to use one. This, from a man who was a trainer for both the Bay of Pigs invasion and Operation Mongoose. (HSCA interview of John Irion, 10/18/78; Davy pp. 28-31; CIA memo of October 1967, “Garrison Investigation: Belle Chasse Training Camp”)
Ferrie also said that he did not know Oswald and Oswald was not a member of his Civil Air Patrol (CAP) unit in New Orleans. This was another lie that Litwin seems comfortable with. In this case, all the Bureau had to do was question some of the other members of that CAP unit to find out Ferrie was lying. Jerry Paradis, who later became a corporate attorney, told the HSCA that he knew Ferrie and Oswald were members of the same CAP unit because he was also a member and he saw them together at a meeting. (HSCA interview of 12/15/78) Anthony Atzenoffer said the same about Ferrie and Oswald at the CAP meetings. (HSCA interview of 1/2/79) As we all know, in 1993, PBS discovered a photo of Oswald and Ferrie at a CAP cookout and showed it on TV.
But there is something even more incriminating about Ferrie which indicates that not only was he knowingly lying to the FBI but was also trying to scoop up evidence that would prove his perjury. For in the days immediately following the assassination, Ferrie was looking for that CAP picture of him with Oswald. He called a former CAP member, Roy McCoy, to find out if he had a copy. The FBI had to know Ferrie was doing this. Why? Because McCoy and his wife later called the Bureau and told them about Ferrie’s search for the photo of him with the alleged assassin of President Kennedy. In other words, the FBI was complicit in Ferrie’s cover-up. (New Orleans FBI report of 11/27/63)
Somehow, Litwin did not think that any of this information about Banister, Ferrie and their ties to Oswald—or the attempts to conceal it—is worth conveying to the reader. Nor does he feel it necessary to note the FBI’s odd reaction to Ferrie’s perjury and attempts at obstruction of justice. This writer would beg to disagree with Mr. Litwin. And again, the fact that he does not reveal it says a lot about his intent as an author.
Litwin trudges onward with Dean Andrews. Andrews was the New Orleans lawyer who said that a man named Clay Bertrand called him on Saturday, November 23, 1963, and asked him to go to Dallas to defend the alleged assassin of JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald. Again, it takes Litwin about two sentences to descend into travesty. First, he says that Andrews was in hospital and heavily sedated at the time he got this call—which is supposed to cast doubt on the credibility of the claim. Twenty-three years ago, the estimable William Davy checked on this point through the hospital records. Those records indicate that Andrews got the call at least four hours before he was sedated. (Davy, p. 52) Litwin then writes that the call was actually from a man named Eugene Davis. This is also wrong. The name of Eugene Davis did not enter the record until NBC produced its hatchet job on Jim Garrison in the summer of 1967. Davis subsequently denied this under oath. And Andrews was then convicted of perjury. (Davy, p. 302; Jim Garrison’s interview in Playboy,10/67)
Today there is no doubt who Clay Bertrand was. And through the efforts of British researcher Martin Hay, we now know that Andrews admitted that Bertrand was Clay Shaw. The late Harold Weisberg did some work for Jim Garrison in New Orleans. He developed a friendly relationship with Andrews and talked to him on several occasions. In an unpublished manuscript, Weisberg wrote that Andrews admitted to him that Shaw was Bertrand. But the lawyer told him he was not to say anything about this without his permission. (See the unpublished book Mailer’s Tale, chapter 5, p. 11, at the Weisberg online archives at Hood College)
Although Andrews’ word would have probative value in this instance, with the work of the Assassination Records Review Board there is simply no question today that Shaw was Bertrand. And, again, the FBI knew this. There are two declassified FBI reports from 1967 in which the Bureau is given information that such was the case. (FBI teletypes of February 24, and March 23, 1967) In a third FBI report of March 2nd 1967, Bureau officer Cartha DeLoach states that they had information about Shaw in relation to the Kennedy case in December of 1963! Somehow, Mr. Litwin did not find that interesting. Many people would disagree. They would also be upset to know that the public had to wait over 30 years to find out that the FBI agreed with Jim Garrison. In light of these revelations Litwin is unintentionally humorous when he writes that the FBI could not find out who Bertrand was. They did know who he was. They did not want to tell anyone because it would support Garrison.
But Litwin is intent on trying to show that Garrison was somehow deluded by Andrews. So he trots out another discredited tale that is about fifty years old. He says that Andrews made up the name of Manuel Garcia Gonzalez and that Garrison ended up believing him. Again, this tells us more about Litwin than it does Andrews or Garrison. Andrews actually gave Garrison two names: Gonzalez and Ricardo Davis. Both of these were names of real people. (Larry Hancock, Someone Would have Talked, pp. 349-50) And if the reader wants to see just how interesting Gonzalez was, please read this. Dean Andrews was anything but ignorant or dishonest. This is why—as he told Garrison, Mark Lane and Anthony Summers—he was in fear for his life.
Predictably, Litwin uses an old trick that reporter James Phelan and Shaw’s lawyers originated in the sixties to discredit Perry Russo. Russo told Garrison that he heard Ferrie and Shaw, at a gathering with a Leon Oswald, speak about killing Kennedy. Garrison had Russo undergo both truth serum and hypnosis. By mixing up Russo’s two interviews under sodium pentothal, Phelan made it appear that Dr. Esmond Fatter was leading the witness. But Garrison submitted the two transcripts to the HSCA, and he had them clearly marked and dated in his own files, which this author had access to. When read in their correct order, not backwards, there is no leading of the witness. Russo comes up with the name Bertrand and describes him as the big white-haired guy—which he was—on his own. (See Probe Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 5, p. 26) Again, this canard was exposed nearly twenty years ago.
Like Donald Carpenter, Litwin is intent on not revealing the declassified record about Clay Shaw, even though the ARRB did interesting work in that area. It is clear now that, as declassified CIA documents reveal, Shaw was a valuable and well-compensated contract agent from the fifties. Joan Mellen prints the declassified document that proves this in her book about George DeMohrenschildt, Our Man in Haiti, on pp. 54-55. That book was published six years ago. Is there any reason for Litwin not to refer to it? That document also explains why Shaw committed perjury on the stand when asked about this issue. (Davy, p. 185) When you add in Shaw’s covert security clearance for the project QK ENCHANT and his probable clearance for ZR CLIFF, then it is obvious why the CIA considered him a valuable agent. It also helps explain why, as the ARRB discovered, the CIA destroyed Shaw’s 201 file. (ARRB Memo from Manuel E. Legaspi to Jerry Gunn, dated 11/14/1996) The internal lie about Shaw by the CIA—that he was only part of Domestic Contacts like 100,000 other businessmen—shows the lengths they felt they had to go to in order to construct a cover-up about their prized employee. Like the FBI, the last thing the Agency wanted to admit was that Jim Garrison was right about Clay Shaw—which he was.
Litwin never acknowledges, let alone confronts, any of these documents. He tries to escape from Shaw’s CIA employment by using the excuse that Shaw’s service with the mysterious European entity called Permindex was a tall tale manufactured under Soviet influence and passed on to a leftist newspaper in Italy, the same excuse the likes of Max Holland uses.
This is more malarkey. The State Department wrote up memos about Permindex at the time the organization was creating a large controversy in Switzerland. Due to the character and suspected criminal backgrounds of members of its board, the controversy got so disturbing it caused the entity to move to Rome. This information was declassified back in 1982 due to a Freedom of Information lawsuit by Bud Fensterwald. They extend from February 1957 to November of 1958 and Shaw is featured in these cables. Bill Davy and others have used these in their books about Garrison’s investigation of Shaw. Again, the FBI was aware of the CIA role in Permindex and how Shaw figured in it. (Davy, p. 100)
Canadian researcher Maurice Phillips recently discovered even more interesting memos about Permindex in the Louis Bloomfield archive in Montreal. Shaw had been on the board of Permindex, and Bloomfield was a corporate counsel. It turns out that Permindex was likely operating not just as a CIA shell, but at a level above that. Phillips has discovered memoranda which show that Bloomfield was soliciting funds for the endeavor from some of the wealthiest people in the world, for instance, David Rockefeller and Edmond deRothschild. (Letter from Bloomfield to Dr. E. W. Imfeld of 2/10/60) Phillips also discovered a memo revealing that one of the founders of Permindex, Ferenc Nagy, was a CIA asset. Because of that status, he invited the Agency to use this new “business” entity in any capacity they wished. (CIA memo of March 24, 1967, released in 1998)
Question for Mr. Litwin: did the Soviets manufacture those State Department cables back in the fifties? And somehow insert the Bloomfield correspondence into his personal papers? Once we dispose of this silliness, the obvious question all this leaves, and which Litwin wants to avoid is: What was Shaw doing in the middle of all this?
The discoveries of Maurice Phillips were quite detrimental to the cover story about Shaw, Bloomfield and Permindex. So much so that, in violation of Bloomfield’s will, his heirs have now tried to stop any more information from being released from his papers. The totality of the declassified record reveals that the cover-up about Shaw was wide, deep, systematic and is ongoing a half century later. This is how fearful the Establishment was about Jim Garrison’s discoveries and where they would lead.
And that is the fact that Litwin’s article is meant to divert us from. As noted, I could not find one single reference to a primary source record in the entire 16 pages of his essay. Instead of relying on these newly released documents, who does Litwin choose to trust? Well, how about Hugh Aynesworth? If that isn’t bad enough, then how about James Phelan? It’s one thing to use a discredited reporter; it’s another not to tell the reader that he is provably related to the FBI, the CIA, or both. Also that both men denied those relationships prior to the documents being released showing such was the case. Can one say anything worse about a journalist? But that does not seem to bother Litwin at all. (For Phelan, see Probe Magazine, Vol. 6 No.4, pp. 5 and 32, and FBI memo from Wick to DeLoach of April 3, 1967; for Aynesworth see a Western Union teletype of May 13, 1967 which he sent to both the White House and the FBI.)
By using his discredited sources instead of the declassified record, Litwin is able to conceal the fact that Shaw committed perjury at least four times at his trial:
- He lied about his association with the CIA, as amply demonstrated above.
- He lied about his use of the alias Clay Bertrand, as is also amply demonstrated above.
- He lied about his relationship with David Ferrie. (Affidavits to the DA of 6/27/67, 10/9/68, FBI teletype of 3/5/67, Probe Magazine, Vol. 4 No. 4, p. 8. The last two sources refer to secretaries who saw the two together.)
- He lied about not knowing Oswald. (Interview of attorney Samuel Exnicios by Joan Mellen 1/8/02; Davy, pp. 101-17)
Do innocent people tell this many lies under oath, thereby risking decades in prison? Shaw had to lie, because if he didn’t it would have exposed him to too many questions that he would not have been able to explain away. Like, “Why did you call Andrews and ask him to go to Dallas to defend Oswald?” And, “Why were you and Ferrie escorting Oswald around the Clinton/Jackson area attempting to register him to vote in a place he didn’t live?”
In the face of all this—quite relevant—perjury, what does Litwin do? Besides avoiding it all, he runs to another risible source: Paul Hoch. Hoch had been misleading the critical community on New Orleans for so long that, when the ARRB opened its doors, he did not want to be exposed as a charlatan. He therefore stood in front of a crowd of about 300 people in Chicago in 1993 and told them to ignore any new releases that came from the Board about Clay Shaw. I wish I was kidding about that, but unfortunately I was there. For that reason, and many others, Hoch simply has no credibility on the issue today. By following Hoch’s advice, Litwin now has custard pie all over his face. Or as they say in the field of information technology, which both men worked in: garbage in, garbage out.
Not that it matters. If this excerpt is any measure of his book—and from a preview I saw, it is—then Litwin did not write it to educate any members of the public. Neither did he wish to elucidate any of the issues that have now been accented by the releases of the ARRB. And he certainly doesn’t give a damn about the assassination of President Kennedy.
What he has done is enhance his status with the kinds of people who backed his first book, that is, Conrad Black and Daniel Pipes. He has become a member in good standing of the Culture Warrior crowd. If one looks at his book from that Machiavellian perspective, then like George W. Bush and his disaster in Iraq: Mission Accomplished.