Thursday, 23 March 2017 21:49

Max Holland and Donald Carpenter vs. Jim Garrison and the ARRB

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carpenter leader2The most inadvertently humorous part of Carpenter’s pathetic essay comes at the end. There he praises Oliver Stone for helping create the declassification process of the ARRB. Why is that funny? It's funny because this essay does not use any of those ARRB declassified documents it credits Stone for releasing, quips Jim DiEugenio.


The first time I recall hearing of Max Holland on the JFK case was through the Wilson Quarterly. This was back in 1994, when he reviewed three books on the JFK case. It was quite clear from that article where Holland stood on the issue. But what was puzzling about Holland was this: What were his credentials on the Kennedy case? I could not figure out what his prior work on the case was. Or how long ago it originated.

As time went on, it became clear that Holland had very few credentials on the JFK case. What he had was a position on the case. He would therefore pick and choose bits of information to back that position, ignoring other information that vitiated it. What was surprising about Holland’s dubious scholarship is that somehow it did not hinder him from expanding outward from Wilson Quarterly. For instance, for a time he actually was a reporter for The Nation. His ostensible beat was the progress of the Assassination Records Review Board and later developments in the JFK case. The predictable problem was that , to the best of my memory, Holland never reported on any of the bombshell information that the Board released. For example, the Lopez Report contained some fascinating information about whether or not Oswald was in Mexico City. The investigation by Chief Counsel Jeremy Gunn revealed some utterly bracing facts about what happened, or did not happen, at President Kennedy’s autopsy. Yet, I don’t recall Holland ever explaining the import of these discoveries to his readers. Just like I don’t recall other volumes he was supposed to be writing which never materialized, e.g., a biography of John McCloy.

Holland also found a home for a while at the Miller Research Center in Virginia. At the time Holland subscribed to Probe Magazine. When I saw what he was up to, I wrote him a note and told him not to renew his subscription since I could not in good conscience keep him on our list. He wrote back saying that if I did that, he would have to subscribe under a false name. That is how desperate he was for us to do his research for him. (I later found out that Holland’s cohort, Patricia Lambert, subscribed under her husband’s name.)

Holland spoke at the 2004 AARC conference in Washington entitled “The Warren Report and its Legacy”. At that conference Holland talked about a previously published paper of his concerning Jim Garrison and his knowledge about the mysterious Permindex operation in Italy and Clay Shaw’s connection to it. The implication of Holland’s presentation was that Garrison had been a dupe of KGB disinformation. At that conference, Gary Aguilar rebutted Holland’s talk and his paper. Through him and other sources it turned out that all the overtones of Holland’s thesis were wrong. Garrison’s ideas about the CIA role in the JFK plot did not come through a series of articles planted by the KGB in the Italian newspaper Paese Sera; the story about Clay Shaw and Permindex was not planted by the KGB; Shaw was arrested before the articles appeared, but the six part series was commissioned six months prior to that event; Shaw did serve on the board of that organization, as he himself admitted prior to the assassination; and there were indications in its financing that Permindex was CIA related. (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, pp. 385-86)

Shortly after a coruscating letter to The Nation about Holland’s shortcomings by Zachary Sklar and Oliver Stone, Holland either left or was forced out of the journal’s pages. He then started up his own online magazine called Washington Decoded. In 2012 he wrote Leak, a book about Mark Felt’s role in Watergate. Of the three books written in that time period about Watergate—the other two being James Rosen’s The Strong Man, and Ed Gray’s In Nixon’s Web—Holland’s was the least distinguished. And it wasn’t really close. The major topic of Holland’s book was the motive that Felt/Deep Throat had for leaking damaging information to the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward about the nefarious activities of the Nixon White House. But with archival research, the Gray book showed that—contrary to what Bob Woodward was still saying—Deep Throat was a composite. And to this day, we don’t know who the other sources were. (To anyone interested in Watergate, this reviewer strongly recommends reading In Nixon’s Web.)

Of course, Holland is still on the JFK case. In 2011, he produced a documentary for National Geographic Channel on the JFK case. This sorry pastiche was called The Lost Bullet, and Holland used some of the usual suspects to help him salvage the Single Bullet Fantasy. Among them were Larry Sturdivan and Robert Stone, who had previously done their best to shore up the fraud of the Warren Report (which Sturdivan actually worked on). This program was so poor that not only did this site pan it—as did fellow critic Pat Speer—but even Commission advocates like Dale Myers attacked it. (Read our review on this site)

But Holland still persists. He was seen attending the Cyril Wecht Conference in 2013. And he still hosts his web site with articles from those who agree with him. Which brings us to the topic of this essay.


II

Jim Garrison was the first public official to denounce the Warren Report in no uncertain terms. Because of that the New Orleans District Attorney has always been a stone in the shoe of supporters of the official story. Today, over five decades after the fact, he remains the only DA in America to investigate the Kennedy assassination after Oswald was murdered. He made the first serious inquiry into who Oswald’s supporters and friends were, for the Warren Commission said he had none. In public, he called Oswald first a decoy, then a patsy, then a victim. (See his Playboy interview from 1967) He was the first and only DA to actually unearth evidence that convincingly contradicted the theses of the Warren Report about the actual role of the alleged assassin. For example, it was Jim Garrison who first investigated the strange life and death of Rose Cheramie. (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, Second Edition, pp. 181-82) It was Jim Garrison who first discovered that Oswald had been associated with David Ferrie in the Civil Air Patrol. And, after the assassination, Ferrie was calling CAP members to be sure that there was no evidence they had which would reveal that association. (ibid, p. 177) It was Jim Garrison who first investigated the Clinton/Jackson incident, the odd journey that Oswald, Clay Shaw and David Ferrie took to Feliciana Parish about 90 miles northwest of New Orleans in the late summer of 1963. (ibid, pp. 88-93) It was Jim Garrison who uncovered the mystery of the 544 Camp Street address, which was printed on some of the literature Oswald passed out on Canal Street in New Orleans during that summer—and which the FBI tried to eradicate from the record. (See John Newman, Oswald and the CIA, p. 310) Garrison was also the first person who interviewed the man who he would later call, “The most important witness there is.” This was CIA/KGB insider Richard Case Nagell, who was in prison at the time. (op. cit. DiEugenio, pp. 183-84) As revealed in his book, The Echo from Dealey Plaza, Garrison was the first person to send an investigator to interview Secret Service agent Abraham Bolden. I could go on and on, but in sum let us refer to an interview Joan Didion did with James Atlas for Vanity Fair: “It goes back to … the Garrison case. Remember, he had this elaborate conspiracy theory. The stones that were turned over! Fantastic characters kept emerging … this whole revealed world … .”

My only dispute with Didion’s quote is that none of the items I refer to above is theoretical. It was all genuine evidence that clearly indicated that Oswald was being manipulated in New Orleans in the summer of 1963. It also showed who the people doing the manipulating were. And the Warren Commission—actually FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover—deliberately kept this information out of their 1964 official story. It is true that Garrison did formulate a theory from this, and the reams of other evidence he garnered. But I would argue that, as Didion implies, his evidence was much more credible, and his ideas much more logical, than the Warren Report. Which Garrison, on The Tonight Show, termed a fairy tale. (Listen to that show here)

Garrison was challenging the Warren Commission, and by extension the FBI, and he ended up accusing certain aspects of the operational arm of the CIA for being closely involved in the Kennedy murder. For this, he was viciously attacked by certain power centers of the American establishment. The media, which had clearly sided with the Warren Commission, was glad to go along with it. Today, there can be no doubt about how this assault was organized, who was involved in it, and how it was executed. For the declassifications of the ARRB have been quite strong on this issue. So much so that I devoted no less than sixty pages to exposing several aspects of how it all worked in the second edition of Destiny Betrayed. (See especially pages 226-85) This belated exposure—which was lied about at the time—is all backed up with scores of footnotes. Therefore, actions that were previously assumed are now out in the open, names are mentioned, operations can now be described. Can we detail it all completely? No. But that is only because certain documents seem to have been elided from the record or, as yet, not declassified in full. But what we do have is copious enough. And it indicates that the reason for all of this obstruction—and the eventual destruction—of Jim Garrison was rather simple. In the fall of 1967, at the request of Director Richard Helms, the CIA convened the first meeting of what the Agency termed The Garrison Group. The meeting opened with counter intelligence chief James Angleton’s assistant Ray Rocca issuing a dire warning. After studying Garrison’s case for months, Rocca said that he felt “that Garrison would indeed obtain a conviction of Shaw for conspiring to assassinate President Kennedy.” (op. cit., DiEugenio, p. 270)

Make no mistake: the creation of this Agency body is what Shaw’s lawyers, and Shaw himself, wanted. In fact, his lawyers went to Washington and pleaded their case for extralegal intervention. This is a point that Shaw’s lead lawyer, Irvin Dymond, lied about to this author and William Davy during a 1994 interview in his New Orleans office. Contrary to Dymond’s prevarications, there can be no question today that they got such aid. And in abundance. For example, in January of 1968, a CIA cable was sent out. It read in part, “[Garrison] case is of interest to several Agency components covering aspects which relate to Agency … office heavily committed to this endeavor.” A later memo states that certain offices will be “tasked”, as part of an ongoing review. (ibid, p. 277) One of these tasks was to provide any Garrison suspect or witness who switched sides with a lawyer. And since men like Walter Sheridan had bribed and intimidated several witnesses to defect from Garrison, these lawyers came in handy. In fact, after certain witnesses were talked into changing their stories, they were told to call Dymond. Dymond would then tell them that if Garrison should try and charge them with anything that he would get them an attorney and bond would be posted for them. (ibid, p. 241) When Gordon Novel, a CIA infiltrator in Garrison’s office, was called by Garrison before the grand jury, he fled from New Orleans before his appearance. He eventually employed four attorneys. Since he did not have a job at the time, he was asked how he paid for these four lawyers. During a legal deposition he stated that they were being “clandestinely remunerated”. (ibid, p. 263) As they should have been, since electronics expert Novel had been originally recruited to wire Garrison’s office by Allen Dulles. (ibid, pp. 232-33)

The above is only a short précis of what we know today about what happened in New Orleans through both ARRB declassifications and by field investigation from people like William Davy and Joan Mellen. Suffice it to say, the literally tens of thousands of pages of new documents about the CIA, the FBI, the Justice Department and Jim Garrison, have led to three major reevaluations of Garrison’s inquiry by Davy, Mellen, and this author. Those three volumes amount to over a thousand pages of mostly new information. It is all quite fascinating in both its actions and overtones. Because, for example, Helms ordered the Garrison Group to consider what Garrison would do before, during, and even after the trial of Clay Shaw. As has been demonstrated in these volumes, the interference with Garrison went on both before and during Shaw’s trial. Robert Tanenbaum, House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) Deputy Counsel, actually saw some of these documents. He said they came out of Richard Helms’ office which, of course, would be the highest level of the CIA. (ibid, p. 294) But, in addition to the CIA, the Justice Department was monitoring Shaw’s trial in real time. (ibid, pp. 299-306)


III

In light of the above, the question then becomes, how does one write a book today about Jim Garrison and/or Clay Shaw which sides with the official position of 1964? Namely that there was no conspiracy and Oswald was a lonely sociopath without friends and colleagues, let alone confederates. Well, leave it to Max Holland to try and do so. Currently up at his site is an article by one Donald Carpenter. Carpenter was a CPA for 25 years. He then turned to writing novels. In 2013 he wrote a biography of Clay Shaw entitled Man of a Million Fragments.

I started reading the book at the time of its publication. I did not get very far. Because early on it became apparent to me that Carpenter’s writing was, shall we say, not very candid. For example, when I read what the author wrote about General Charles Thrasher, who Shaw served under as his aide de camp during World War II, I blanched. I deduced two things from this part of Carpenter’s work: 1.) He was determined to minimize or eliminate any ties Shaw had to intelligence work, especially covert actions, and 2.) He was going to color over the very real accusations against Thrasher of participating in war crimes against German POW’s. These charges had been covered up at the end of World War II. But through some extraordinary archival research, author James Bacque had uncovered them and assembled a startling expose of these crimes in his 1989 book Other Losses. From Carpenter’s maneuvering on this issue, I deduced that if the author was going to do something like that with Thrasher, then there would be no holds barred with Clay Shaw.

After reading Carpenter's current article at Holland’s web site, it appears I was correct. What Carpenter and Holland want to do is sort of like what H. G. Wells once wrote a novel about: place the reader in a time machine and transport us back to 1969. That way, the censorious duo can make believe that everything described above does not exist. Unfortunately for them, we live in the dimensions of time and space, therefore it does exist. One can make believe it does not exist, but then that means that what you are writing is make-believe history. This is something like attending the Paul Hoch College of Historical Studies. Let me explain what I mean by that.

In Chicago in 1994, I sat in the audience at Doug Carlson’s fine Midwest Symposium on John F. Kennedy. Hoch spoke at this event. He assumed the role of grizzled veteran giving advice to the newbies who were about to go through the declassified ARRB files. One of his pieces of advice was to ignore anything in there on Clay Shaw. I never forgot that since it went against everything I had learned in graduate school. Namely that scholars are supposed to seek out as much new and relevant information as they can find. That is the way historians fill in gaps in the past. What Hoch was proposing was the historical version of prior restraint on free speech. To me, this was the opposite of what real scholarship was supposed to be about. All I can say is that Carpenter has written both a book and essay that satisfies Hoch’s See no Evil, Hear no Evil, and Say no Evil (Orwellian) dictum.


IV

Right at the beginning of the article, Carpenter shows just how much he is in disregard of the archival records of the ARRB. He pegs the beginning of Garrison’s inquiry to the famous conversation the DA had with Senator Russell Long on a plane ride to New York City. He then adds that the actual date of the November plane trip is not known, and that this marked the beginning of Garrison’s inquiry. Both assertions are wrong. William Davy tracked down the origins of the trip to NYC and the date. (Davy, Let Justice be Done, p. 57)

But more importantly, this does not mark the beginning of Garrison’s inquiry. As almost everyone knows, except perhaps Mr. Carpenter, Garrison had inquired into the JFK case back in 1963. Then he did a brief investigation into the event because Oswald had lived in New Orleans for several months in 1963. He ended up by calling David Ferrie into his office for an informal interview. Garrison was curious about a seemingly inexplicable journey Ferrie made with two friends to Houston and Galveston on the day of the assassination. Ferrie said he took the car ride to go ice-skating and goose hunting. Except as Garrison had figured out: 1.) Ferrie did not go ice-skating once he got to Houston; 2.) He drove 400 miles through a pounding rainstorm not to skate; and 3.) His second excuse, to go goose hunting was vitiated by the fact that he did not take shotguns with him. (ibid, pp. 45-47) This ridiculous story seemed utterly strained and patently ersatz to the DA. So he turned over Ferrie to the FBI.

The Bureau interviewed Ferrie. He lied to them as he had to the DA. For instance, he said he never knew Oswald, which was provably false. But even more ridiculous he said he had never used a telescopic rifle and would not even know how to use one. He also said he had associated with no Cuban exile group members since 1961. (DiEugenio, p. 177) Which was preposterous, since Ferrie had been involved in Operation Mongoose in 1962. (ibid, p. 115) As most people understand, lying to an FBI agent is a crime. Evidently, Ferrie understood that it did not matter. Someone in the FBI hierarchy would protect him. As they did. There is not even a hint of any of this FBI cooperation in Carpenter’s article.

But returning to my main point about Carpenter’s inaccuracy about Garrison: it’s not really true that Garrison’s original inquiry was relaunched by the talk with Long. As Joan Mellen notes in her book A Farewell to Justice, Garrison was collecting various critiques of the Warren Report as they were published. And he urged his assistants to read them also. (Mellen, p. 4) But, beyond that, in the Garrison files donated to the ARRB by Lyon Garrison, one will see that there are some memos in the time period of 1965-66. When this author interviewed chief investigator Lou Ivon, he affirmed that Garrison would get interested in a certain assassination issue and send someone out to do an inquiry. (DiEugenio, 177-78) Therefore, right at the outset, Carpenter’s essay is marked by incompleteness and inaccuracy. And Max Holland had no interest in correcting any of it.

Carpenter continues his march of folly by writing that, in 1966, Garrison picked up “three already spent leads.” One will understand how ridiculous that phrase is when Carpenter lists the first ‘spent lead” as Ferrie. Apparently, Carpenter is fine with Ferrie lying to both the DA and the FBI. Unlike our intrepid essayist, most curious and objective readers would have liked to know the following:

  1. Why did Ferrie lie about the purpose of his trip to Houston and Galveston?
  2. What purpose was served by denying he knew Oswald when it could so easily be shown that this was false?
  3. How on earth could he deny that he was not familiar with a telescopic rifle, or even known how to use one, when he participated in training for both the Bay of Pigs and Operation Mongoose?

As any professional investigator comprehends, when a person of interest lies under penalty of perjury, it usually indicates that there are higher stakes involved. Today, there can be little doubt that this was the case with David Ferrie. Any real investigation of Ferrie would have uncovered a welter of incriminating evidence. Not just about him. But about Sergio Arcacha Smith, Clay Shaw, and Guy Banister. There are also links between Ferrie, Sergio Arcacha Smith and David Phillips.

For instance, during a legal deposition for his lawsuit against Garrison, Gordon Novel described a meeting at Banister’s office. At the meeting were Novel, Banister, Arcacha Smith and a man who clearly fits the description of Phillips. (Davy, pp. 22-24) Secondly, in preparation for the Bay of Pigs, Ferrie trained Cuban exiles in underwater demolition at the abandoned Belle Chasse Naval Ammunition Depot, just south of New Orleans. Ferrie revealed that Sergio Arcacha Smith was the conduit for the arms coming into the camp. In an after action report, the CIA officer who summarized the types and dates of training, noted that the Belle Chasse base had now been sterilized; meaning no trace of CIA affiliation remained. That memo was written by David Phillips. (ibid, p. 31) Third, an INS agent named Wendell Roache told the Church Committee that they were tracking Ferrie because of his close associations with Cuban exiles illegally in the country. They had traced him to 544 Camp Street, and also found out he took films of a training camp. This may be the film that HSCA Deputy Counsel Bob Tanenbaum said he saw in the early days of the HSCA inquiry. If so, it featured Oswald, Banister and Phillips. (DiEugenio, p. 116)

So much for Ferrie being a “spent lead”.

Another so-called “spent lead” the author refers to is attorney Dean Andrews. As many authors have pointed out, someone put the fear of God into Andrews about revealing the true identity of the mysterious Clay Bertrand he referred to in his Warren Commission testimony. On at least three occasions—with Mark Lane, Anthony Summers and Garrison—he refused to reveal who Bertrand was. (ibid, p. 181) This was an important point because Andrews told his assistants that while he was in hospital, Bertrand had called him and asked him to go to Dallas to defend the accused assassin of JFK, Lee Oswald. Who Andrews knew previously, since Oswald had been in his office more than once that summer. (Davy, p. 49) Not only was Andrews threatened not to reveal Bertrand’s true identity, but his office was rifled after he got out of the hospital. (DiEugenio, p. 181)

Further, the FBI visited him in the hospital and did all they could to intimidate him into retracting his statements about Clay Bertrand. (Davy, p. 50) Clearly, there were forces way above Andrews that did not want him to reveal the true identity of Bertrand. In fact, the FBI wanted him to say that he had dreamed the whole episode up while under hospital sedation. As William Davy has demonstrated with hospital records, on November 23rd, Andrews made a call to his secretary about going to Dallas to defend Oswald before he was medicated. And it was not even close. He made the call to his secretary at 4 PM. He was given a sedative four hours later. (Davy, p. 52)

But further, there are multiple paths of corroboration for Andrews being called by the mysterious Bertrand. Andrews had talked about the call with his friend Monk Zelden, president of the New Orleans BAR association. He had called his secretary Eva Springer on the 23rd and reported it. He told his investigator, former Sgt. R. M. Davis, and he told his wife. (ibid, p. 51) In light of all this, it simply was not credible that Andrews could not recall the true identity of Bertrand. This selective amnesia was clearly caused by the threats of people Andrews said were from Washington and threatened to inflict serious bodily harm if he revealed who Bertrand was. (DiEugenio, p. 181)


V

Which leads to who Bertrand really was. In his obsolete article, Carpenter writes that Garrison figured that Shaw was Bertrand through a process of descriptive evaluation. In other words, through Andrews, he had information that Bertrand was close to some Hispanics, was a homosexual, and spoke some Spanish. All this was based on the fact that Andrews stated that Bertrand had sent him clients who were, as he termed it “gay Mexicanos”. Therefore, from this information, Garrison deduced that these traits fit the description of Clay Shaw. And, according to Carpenter, this is how Garrison fixed on Shaw as a suspect.

There is a rather familiar problem with this statement by Carpenter. Namely, it is wrong. As anyone can see by going through Garrison’s extant files, the DA spent many hours sending his investigators out pounding the pavement trying to find out who Bertrand was. The process literally extended over a period of months. The reason being that many denizens of the French Quarter did not want to talk to Garrison or his agents. The reason for that being Garrison’s previous crackdown against B-girl drinking in the Quarter. That legal action closed several bars permanently, and many others temporarily, thereby putting many people out of work. But when Garrison stopped going on these inquiries himself, slowly, over time, his staff began to get results. Today, with the release of Garrison’s files, there is really no question that Shaw was Bertrand. The number of witnesses that attest to this is in the low double digits. (DiEugenio, pp. 387-88) And the information has nothing to do with “gay Mexicanos”. It was such common knowledge that the FBI knew it. The Bureau wrote three separate memos about this issue from 1963 to 1967. These memoranda say that Shaw was of interest to the FBI in December of 1963 in relation to the JFK case, and that they had at least three witnesses saying that Shaw was Bertrand. (ibid, p. 388)

But the best source on this would be Dean Andrews. Who, unfortunately, was frightened out of his wits. Yet, thanks to the efforts of estimable researcher Martin Hay, we have now found out that Andrews did reveal the fact that Shaw was Bertrand to one source. That source was Harold Weisberg. While working with Garrison, Weisberg met with Andrews several times. Harold developed a rapport and trust with the lawyer. Andrews eventually told him that Shaw was Bertrand. But he told him so under the restriction that he tell no one else. Weisberg kept his word. It was not until many years later, in the manuscript for an unpublished book, that Weisberg wrote about this secret revelation. Hay found it by sifting through the late Weisberg’s investigative files at Hood College. (ibid)

The obvious question that Garrison never got to ask Shaw was this: Why did you call Andrews and tell him to go to Dallas to defend Oswald? To put it mildly, the implications of that query are thunderous. By not consulting the declassified record, Carpenter avoids posing it.

What Carpenter does with the trial of Clay Shaw is SOP for him. Carpenter admits that Shaw’s lawyers were the main cause of the long delay in getting the case to trial. What he does not say is that this was done in order for Shaw’s secret allies to infiltrate, clandestinely record, and intimidate and bribe Garrison’s witnesses. There are too many examples of this illicit behavior to even begin to describe them in this essay. I will describe just four.

Bernardo DeTorres was a high level CIA agent who ended up working with weapons expert Mitch Werbell. He reportedly had photos of the Kennedy assassination stashed in a safe. He was one of the first infiltrators into Garrison’s office in late 1966. The unsuspecting DA sent him to investigate Cuban exile Eladio Del Valle, David Ferrie’s paymaster for flights into Cuba. Garrison never saw Bernardo after this assignment. But the report that Garrison got about the subsequent murder of Del Valle reads as follows: “He was shot in the chest, and it appears gangland style, and his body was left in the vicinity of BERNARDO TORRES apartment.” (DiEugenio, p. 227) Would you show up for work after your boss got such a report? Needless to say, Del Valle would have been a very important witness for Garrison.

William Wood aka Bill Boxley, was a former CIA agent who volunteered for Garrison’s staff. Boxley wanted Garrison to do some very bizarre things. Like, on the fifth anniversary of JFK ‘s death, indict a man named Robert Perrin. Perrin had some visibility due to the fact that he had been the husband of Warren Commission witness Nancy Perrin Rich. The only problem with this idea was that Perrin had died a few years previously. Boxley then said, well, he wasn’t really dead, the authorities had mixed up his body with another. Boxley—along with the late William Turner—was also the main culprit in inducing the whole Eugene Bradley debacle. Where Garrison had to withdraw an arrest warrant when he discovered that Boxley had made some very dubious claims about Bradley that were not accurate. It later turned out that Boxley was, of course, a CIA agent who knew about the Garrison Group and how that desk operated. (ibid, pp. 278-81)

I will briefly mention two other cases. From Garrison’s files, it appears that James Angleton had a whole book written simply to mislead Garrison. This, of course refers to the whole, elaborate Farewell America hoax. The uncovering of which, is also due to Harold Weisberg. From his extensive field inquiry he discovered that the book was actually supervised by a French double agent named Philippe De Vosjoli. De Vosjoli clandestinely worked for Angleton. (ibid, pp. 281-83) Finally, in his discussion of the Clay Shaw trial, Carpenter doesn’t mention the name of Clyde Johnson. Johnson was supposed to be Garrison’s lead witness. Since many of his witnesses were being terrorized—e.g., Richard Case Nagell had a grenade thrown at him, Aloysius Habighorst was almost run over by a truck—Garrison hid Johnson. This was at an out of town location. But to show just how infiltrated his office was, this location was discovered. Johnson was beaten to a bloody pulp, was hospitalized and could not testify. (ibid, p. 294)

The point of all this is to show that the constant delays were strategic in intent. It gave the CIA, the FBI, and others a longer time frame in order to weaken Garrison’s case. Carpenter also brings up the old chestnut of Garrison not trying the case himself. Again, this shows his ignorance of Garrison’s files. Decades ago, Garrison explained to a correspondent that he was stricken by a painful back injury and also the Hong Kong flu during the trial. (ibid, pp. 292-93)

As the reader can see, the entire prosecution of Clay Shaw was more or less sabotaged by several covert operations. But even at that, Shaw had to lie his head off on the stand to escape. In sum, Shaw deceived the jury on every material subject there was. He denied knowing Ferrie or Oswald, denied being in the Clinton/Jackson area with those two men, and he denied being associated with the CIA. He even denied using an alias. (ibid, p. 310) With what we know today, these denials under oath reduce his testimony to the level of grotesque black comedy.

The deceit about his association with the CIA actually goes beyond his lies, because the CIA actually lied to itself on this issue. This is how ingrained the cover up was about Shaw at Langley. In many of their memos at the time, the Agency denied any connection to Clay Shaw. Which, of course, was false. Afterwards, they admitted he was only a business contact. Which was also false. It later turned out that Shaw had a covert security clearance for a project code named QK ENCHANT. As former CIA officer Victor Marchetti later said, this appears to have been a part of the Domestic Operations Division run by Tracy Barnes, and which also employed Howard Hunt. (ibid, p. 385)

But actually it’s even worse than that. As Joan Mellen later discovered, the CIA had hidden away documents that proved that Shaw was a highly paid, valuable contract agent from early in the fifties. This document was not declassified until a historical review program did so in the nineties. (Joan Mellen, Our Man in Haiti, pp. 54-55) This information corresponds with what Gordon Novel revealed in a written communication made back in the seventies. There he wrote that, back in 1964, the CIA had sent out an order through Director of Security Howard Osborn to conceal Shaw’s true Agency status from inquiries into the JFK murder. To say this tactic was successful does not really do it justice. But it shows the price the public must pay for the almost maniacal secrecy the national security state demands.

The most inadvertently humorous part of Carpenter’s pathetic essay comes at the end. There he praises Oliver Stone for helping create the declassification process of the ARRB. Why is that funny? It's funny because this essay does not use any of those ARRB declassified documents it credits Stone for releasing.

Last modified on Wednesday, 29 March 2017 18:03
James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and Reclaiming Parkland (2013/2016), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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