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Monday, 23 October 2017 21:45

William Turner speaks with Hal Verb and Elsa Knight Thompson

We present here a transcript of a discussion between Bill Turner, Hal Verb and Elsa Knight Thompson which aired on KPFA Pacifica Radio, October 6, 1967.
Audio courtesy of OurHiddenHistory.


Listen to the audio on YouTube.


Moderator

I am in the studio with William Turner, staff writer of Ramparts Magazine, and author of a forthcoming book, Police USA, which will be published by Putnam, Invisible Witness, Bobbs Merrill, and The Garrison Case, Award Books. Mr. Turner is a former FBI agent. He wrote the essay "The Inquest" in June Ramparts, outlining Garrison's case, and the "The Press Versus Garrison" in the September Ramparts. This is not Mr. Turner's first appearance in our studio. Quite a number of years ago now, several years ago, Mr. Turner appeared over this station when he was originally in the process of leaving the FBI, and us no more popular with the authorities. And so, he's been a lot of places, and done a lot of things since then.

The second person we have with us is Mr. Harold Verb, who is a reporter for The Berkeley Barb, and has also been doing some work at San Francisco State, conducting a seminar, I believe, on the assassination of President Kennedy, and the Warren Commission report.

Now, what we've asked these two to come and chat with us about is what's going on in New Orleans, and what role Jim Garrison has played in this, where it is now, and how they estimate its significance, its relevance, is it more than simply a theory that Mr. Garrison is working with? Perhaps you could bring us up to date on some of the facts, Mr. Turner.

William Turner

I'd be glad to talk about Jim Garrison's case. Actually, Garrison first got into the assassination investigation the day after the assassination. On that Saturday, he called what he termed a brainstorming session of his staff, and they went over any possible New Orleans angles, or persons who were erratic enough to have been involved in a conspiracy. At that time, they came up with the name of David William Ferrie, who you will recall died this year, on February 22nd, after he became involved in Garrison's current investigation.

Now, at that time, Ferrie had a rather mysterious trip to the state of Texas, leaving the afternoon of the assassination. And on that trip, he went first to Houston by car, where he appeared at an ice skating rink, and according to the owner now, he stood by the telephone for several hours on that Saturday afternoon. He apparently received a call, and then went to Galveston.

Now, Garrison was waiting for him when he got back on Sunday to New Orleans, and picked him up, and turned him over to the FBI for interrogation, because of the very suspicious nature of this trip. In other words, Garrison thought it was a very curious trip, by a curious man, at a curious time.

The FBI released him, and apparently the reason was that, number one, Ferrie had not left on that trip until well after the assassination; say, five or six hours. And also, because they determined that his small airplane was not airworthy at the time, and therefore, he couldn't have been in on an escape plan. Now, there the matter rested, and as Garrison puts it, he said, "I had confidence in the competency of the FBI." He himself is a former agent of the FBI. He was in approximately a year. And interestingly enough, he was in the same office that I was in, Seattle.

So, it was not until last fall when he was riding a plane to New York with Senator Russell Long of Louisiana, that his interest was renewed. Apparently, they were discussing the various books that had come out, and Senator Long the statement that he really believed that there was more to it than Oswald. And they conversed on it. When Garrison got back to New Orleans, he went into virtual seclusion, pouring over The Warren Report and its volumes, and he quietly launched his inquiry. And on the basis of the initial returns in this inquiry, he became convinced that, indeed, there was an assassination plot, and that the assassination plot had at least one aspect in New Orleans.

So, that is how he got started on it, and as you know, it's still going on.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Well in what form is it still going on? Would one of you ... How is he proceeding at this point, and where does he intend to ... Has it just simply become a private investigation now? There's nobody up for trial at the moment, is there?

William Turner

Well, yes; there is. Clay Shaw is scheduled for trial. But, let me put it this way, that Shaw was arrested ... I believed it was the latter part of February. And through all kinds of legal maneuvering ... maneuvering is a word that the judge down there, not mine. It's been postponed and held off, and a trial date has not yet been set. However, Garrison stresses that he does not believe that Shaw is at the center of any web of conspiracy, that he is a peripheral participant in this. And therefore, he has a motion in open court to speed up the trial of Shaw so that he can sort of clear the decks with his own investigation.

As it is, he was held up with all these legal motions in the Shaw case. He does not have a greatly enlarged staff, and they have their normal criminal case load to handle. And he also has been subjected to attacks from Life Magazine, which insinuates that he is somehow sympathetic to organized crime, which is laughable; because probably of all the district attorneys in the nation, he has done more to clean up organized crime than anyone. By NBC, CBS, the bulk of the national media, the mass media, and therefore, he would like to be able to devote more time to the investigation.

But, he does have an investigation. He's got main files that are set up somewhat like the FBI's. He has an archivist to handle the Garrison archives. He has men who are specializing in the Kennedy assassination investigation, and I've spent a total of two weeks inside his office down there, and every day, there's a new angle.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Well, tell me, in as much as there must be quite a few people who wish he would dry up and blow away, can he as prosecuting attorney just sit there and utilize that much taxpayer's money to follow up on something simply because he believes in it? Is there any chance or possibility of actual either legal or political pressure to make him stop this?

William Turner

There have been all kinds of pressures brought to bear. Now, Garrison was carrying on his inquiry in secret. This is the best way, of course, to carry on an inquiry; at least in its initial stages. Now, the States-Item newspaper in New Orleans checked the disbursements of his office and found that there were what they consider these exorbitant travel expenses. People were going to Miami, they were going to Chicago, San Francisco. And this is the way they got wind of what he was doing, and they broke it in the paper.

Well, Garrison, at that time ... Number one, there was a loud hue and cry that he was expending public funds on a wild goose chase. Now, he didn't want to come out and release all his evidence to substantiate that it was not a wild goose chase. Therefore, they formed a group, businessmen in New Orleans formed a group, called Truth or Consequences, Incorporated; which is privately financing the assassination investigation. They signed up and contributed so much a month, and this is what is really subsidizing his assassination investigation.

Elsa Knight Thompson

But, through the prosecuting attorney's office, or separate from the prosecuting attorney's office?

William Turner

Well, through the office. Through the office. Now, you've mentioned pressures brought to bear. You get in his office down there, and you almost feel like you're in maybe a Russian embassy on US soil, the way he's been treated. For one thing, there is an organization down there called the Metropolitan Crime Commission. An ex-FBI agent by the name of Aaron Kohn is the head of this.

Now, of course, this is again, a privately subsidized operation, and Mr. Kohn has to have organized crime around in order for himself to exist. And it seems that, since Garrison's investigation has come up, Kohn has been inordinately active in trying to say that there's organized crime in the parish of Orleans. He's been called before the grand jury down there several times to try and specify what he means by this, and he's been unable to do so.

Nevertheless, that is one pressure point. As I mentioned, the national press is another pressure point. Bobby Kennedy's former investigator Walter Sheridan was down there from the inception of Garrison's investigation, and he has attempted ... There is a legal allegation that he has attempted public bribery in getting to Garrison's witnesses. It is alleged that Perry Russo, who is a key witness in the Shaw case, was offered some money by Sheridan. Sheridan allegedly told him that, "We'll get you to California, and they won't be able to extradite you from there." And various other types of either intimidation or lures. They've been using the carrot and stick down there.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Yes, Hal.

Hal Verb

Yes. One of the things that Bill has mentioned are these different pressure points, and he's pointed out the press, nationally and locally, has not given the Garrison case a fair shake. We can speak about the local press here. I think the only fair shake that they have given Garrison is that there is no news that is covered in the local press here that gives space to anything he says to counter the charges that are against him. I'll specifically mention one. For example, when Life Magazine said that Garrison had been connected with the mafia, and this was reported in the press, Garrison had an instant reply to that, and he said, "I don't even know Carlos Marcello," and that was the specific individual who Life Magazine had tied him in with. "I wouldn't even know him if he were sitting right here next to me."

Now, this thing has never even appeared locally; I doubt if there are a few people here in the Bay Area, or in the whole state for that matter, who even know about this remark. This is typical; NBC, CBS will present their program, giving their version of what they say are both sides of the story, when in fact, it is only one side.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Yes. I believe you had something about some TV coverage that you wanted to talk about. Would this be the time that you would like to go into that a little more fully?

Hal Verb

Yes. There seems to have been what I would regard as a massive attempt to, if not obstruct the investigation, to at least put obstacles in the way of it that would prevent Garrison's case from really coming to court, or at least having his say, with respect to what he has presented. For example, CBS presented a four part series late in the summer, I think it was the end of June, in which they references specifically to Garrison's case. And one of the things that they mentioned was the kind of attempts that were by Garrison's office, allegedly, what they said to bribe and intimidate witnesses.

And, for example, they pointed to a writer for the ... This is a quote from one of the transcripts that I have of the four part series. They said there was a writer for the Saturday Evening Post who said he had read transcripts of what went on at those sessions. Now, the fact is that there were never any such transcripts, and this writer had actually seen Sciambria's notes. And what this writer was trying to show was that this particular person had written a document, or statements, in which he had said that a key witness, Perry Raymond Russo, had lied about what he had presented as evidence.

The fact is that this was never the case, because there were in fact memorandums that were prepared, and that this writer actually was aware of the existence of these memorandums. Now, this did not get into TV coverage.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Well. Where would you like to go from here on this? What is Garrison's theory? You say that the man, Shaw ... Ferrie, is dead. There seem to be an awful lot of dead people connected with the whole situation ...

William Turner

The tabulation goes on and on.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Yes. So, Ferrie's dead, whatever it was he was supposed to be doing. Now, what about Shaw, and what is Garrison's overall ...

William Turner

Well, all right. In broad terms, it is this ... And I think that this will also explain the orchestrated attack on him. Garrison believes that Oswald, number one, was a CIA agent, and that he probably had been trained at the Atsugi base in Japan when he was in the Marine Corps. This would have been back around 1957, '58. Atsugi, reportedly, is a U2 installation. And in the restricted documents ... there's still classified documents in the archives ... There's a very tantalizing one entitled "Oswald's access to U2 information".

Now, necessarily, this means that when Oswald went to the Soviet Union, he was a CIA operative. And, of course, there is liberal evidence to back this up; most of it suggestive, rather than direct. But, for one thing, when he came back, he told a fellow employee in Dallas, where he was working in a photographic lab, about the disbursement of Soviet military forces, how they did not intermingle, or armored divisions with infantry. And then, he said, "I didn't notice any vapor trails over Minsk." Minsk is where he was when he was in the Soviet Union, for most of his stay.

Now, Garrison believes that Oswald's leftist activity in New Orleans and Dallas, his attempts to insinuate himself into the confidence of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, the Socialist Workers Party, the Communist Party USA, was nothing more than an attempt to erect a facade. Such a façade would have given him, perhaps, easier access to communist countries. It would have given him, once in, a freer movement.

Now, when Oswald went to the Soviet Embassy ... or, excuse me, the Cuban embassy in Mexico City, he very careful listed all these affiliations with these groups; which, of course, existed only in his own mind. He never was formally accepted into any of them.

Now, who was Oswald then, if he was not really a leftist; who was he? Well, Garrison's evidence will show that Oswald was affiliated with a group in New Orleans, which was anti-Castro in nature, and was paramilitary in nature, that was composed ... down in that area, there is a tremendous cross-pollination of people who are members of the Minutemen, who are Cuban exiles, violently opposed to Castro, who are even members of the KKK. And it was with one of these factions with whom Oswald was traveling.

Now, with that in mind, how does the CIA come into it? Because Garrison believes that CIA is the reason that there is this orchestrated attack on him. Well, very simply, it was the CIA which sponsored these anti-Castro groups, which were supposed to, even after the Bay of Pigs failure, never relinquish their dreams of re invading Cuba. And, as a matter of fact, these groups were very active, and training in the environs of New Orleans. Garrison found one of their bases where one of the founders of the Minutemen had been arrested by the FBI and secretly let go. His name never appeared in the newspapers.

These people became very disenchanted with President Kennedy after what they call all his promises about freeing Cuba, and not coming through. And then, his apparent rapproachment with Cuba, which was in the works at the time of the assassination, was being handled through the Cuban ambassador, Carlos Lechuga and the United Nations, and through an intermediary, an ABC newswoman, who was on very close personal terms ... Lisa Howard; very close personal terms with Castro.

So, what Garrison believes is these anti-Castro groups, which had been nurtured by the CIA, one of the factions, a spin off from this group, got out of hand, set up Oswald as the patsy, and assassinated Kennedy in Dealey Plaza. And Dealey Plaza ––

Elsa Knight Thompson

In other words, he doesn't think the CIA ordered Kennedy's assassination, but simply that a group that had been involved and financed by the CIA, went its own way ...

William Turner

Right. The CIA, by its very nature, is compartmentalized, or cellular ... They used to talk about communist party cells, and how one didn't know the other. And this is exactly the structure the CIA, and it's very easy for one of these CIA cells to become so involved in deceit, duplicity, assassination, murder, to go off and do something like this. And the operation at Dealey Plaza had all the earmarks of a paramilitary type of ambush. No question about it.

Elsa Knight Thompson

And Ferrie and Shaw were involved in that group? Is that ...

William Turner

Now the legal allegations against Shaw are that he conspired, it's a conspiracy charge, in New Orleans with David Ferrie and Oswald to assassinate the president. Garrison's legal bill in particular states that a session in which they discussed and planned an assassination ... talk, or particulars, culminated in what happened at Dealey Plaza. And, as I said before however, Garrison has gone no farther in his charges on Shaw. However, he has independent evidence to back up Shaw's identity as Clay Bertrand, as you may know that is a big bone of contention; Shaw says he is not Clary Bertrand. Garrison says he is.

Now, Clay Bertrand comes into this way; immediately after the assassination, a New Orleans attorney, Dean Andrews, who had handled what he calls the "gay swishers" in New Orleans, and also Oswald ... Oswald apparently wanted his discharge changed; said that, immediately after the assassination, he received a phone call from this man whom he knew as Clay Bertrand. And Clay Bertrand was a man who had referred Oswald to his office. And he said that Bertrand asked him if he would defend Oswald against the assassination charges. Of course, before anything further could be done, Oswald himself was killed.

Now, as I say, it is part of Garrison's allegations that Clay Shaw is in fact the man using the name Clay Bertrand; and this he intends to prove in court. Also, the facts of the conspiracy. One of the allegations, and to prove this, is that Clay Shaw met in Baton Rouge with Jack Ruby and with Oswald. And he has a witness that will testify to this. So, this is the case against Shaw, which as I say, is up for ... It has not yet been set on the calendar, but will come off late this year, or early next.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Does he have any witnesses who claim to have been a member of this group themselves? Or, is this all inferential evidence? Do you know whether or not anyone within the little right wing CIA, whatever you want to call it, type group that this plot took place in according to him; is there anyone who was a part of that, that he has been able to get as a witness?

William Turner

Unfortunately, no. Because, obviously, these people would be accessories before the fact, at the very least, if not participants, accessories after the fact. And certainly, you talked about the mysterious deaths; these people would not be very prone to talk, knowing what the penalty might be.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Well, but he must have found it out some way. I wondered, if by any chance, it was a question of someone from the group informing even if, for reasons that would be very obvious, that this would be protected.

William Turner

Let me put it this way, then, that there have been people who have been within the group, or on the periphery of it, who have been able to give him at least part of a story. No one has come ––

Elsa Knight Thompson

Well, that's what I was at. I wasn't expecting that anyone who had helped to plan the assassination of the president would come along and say, "I was a member of a conspiracy."

William Turner

Like former Minutemen, for example. Yes, there have been a couple of those.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Because, for example, as far as I know, it's never been absolutely proven that such a group existed, and that Oswald was a member of it. Well, anybody who had ever been in that group would be a valuable witness to that much.

William Turner

This is true.

Elsa Knight Thompson

I was wondering what the depth was on the witness situation.

William Turner

Yeah. There has been no one, unfortunately, who has been able to tell them that, "Yes, I was in this group. Yes, I was part of the assassination team at Dealey Plaza. Yes, so and so and so and so shot from behind the grass ..."

Elsa Knight Thompson

No, I understand that, Bill. But, the point is that sometimes you have a group that might be composed of, say, 10 or 15 people, and that doesn't mean that there wouldn't be a minority, even within so small a group, that was doing something. But, at least that any one of those 15 people could testify, the people who belong to this group, and who normally came to our meetings were so and so, so and so. And if Oswald, and Ferrie, and Shaw were three of them, then that much would be established. It was that kind of evidence, I was thinking.

William Turner

Right Elsa. There have been a couple of cracks in this little structure. There have been.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Well, that looks as if he's gotten that far, anyway.

William Turner

Yes, he has.

Elsa Knight Thompson

And with this, does he think this is involved ... Well, you mentioned the fact that there was Cuban participation in these groups.

William Turner

Cuban exile.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Yes.

William Turner

Yes, right.

Hal Verb

May I make a point about this?

Elsa Knight Thompson

Yes.

Hal Verb

Very early in the ... when the whole case about Garrison's investigation broke, there were charges that pro-Castro Cubans had somehow been involved. And some of the press had picked up the story that, at first, Garrison ––

Elsa Knight Thompson

This is pro-Castro Cubans?

Hal Verb

This is pro-Castro Cubans.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Yes. This is the, "Was he right? Was he left?"

Hal Verb

Riight. The pro-Castro elements were involved in the assassination, and the press allegedly stated, or stated that, allegedly, Garrison had actually conceived of this as possibly one of the elements in the conspiracy. I'm talking about certain sections of the press. The fact is that, at no time was this a possibility when Garrison launched his investigation. In fact, through all of the investigations that he has conducted, there's one thing that does stand out, and that is that Oswald, who does play, of course, an important role in this whole case, all his associations during his entire trip, both through New Orleans and Dallas, were with elements that can be considered paramilitary, right wing groups, and that all his associations were primarily of a right wing, extremist nature.

There is no evidence to show that he was, as the press had identified him, as a leftist. This was merely a cover ––

Elsa Knight Thompson

Well, I guess it did come out that he had made approaches to certain left wing groups. But, I remember that, within days, or at least very shortly after the assassination, that there was also a news item about the fact that, at one time, he had volunteered to train people to go in on the Bay of Pigs invasion. In other words, a completely contrary story. Now, that hit the press sometime very quickly after the assassination, and then died. I never saw anything more about that, but I clearly remember this, because it made a great deal more sense in the context of what one knew about Oswald, than the other story. And so, I do remember it.

Hal Verb

Yes. I think what you're referring to is an incident when Oswald had approached a anti-Castro refugee by the name of Carlos Bringuier, in New Orleans. And, apparently, it's my belief that when Oswald had done this, he had blown his cover, so to speak, about his connections with the CIA, at this particular point. Because Bringuier had become immediately suspicious of Oswald, that he was a double agent.

Now, while he was in New Orleans, Oswald managed to get himself a lot of publicity. I think this was on the part of an expected cover that he was expected to assume. He got on a program, on radio, WDSU, in which he debated a person who was connected with a group called INCA, which was the Information Council of the Americas Now, this group was connected with right wing, anti-Castro refugees, and had extensive operations in connection with Latin American revolutions.

Now, the thing about this INCA group is that a number of individuals who connected with this particular group, one of them, for example, is a man by the name of Mario Bermudez, who is the man who helped arrange the trip for Clay Shaw when he was here in San Francisco. Now, if you'll recall, one of the things that Perry Raymond Russo had said in his testimony before the grand jury, was that part of the ploy that was to be executed on the day of November 22nd, when President Kennedy was killed, part of this plot would have to have the principals of the case in other cities at the time, so that no suspicion would be drawn upon them.

It was just curious to see that this man, Bermudez, is arranging a trip for Clay Shaw, the man who has now been charged with conspiring to kill the president. And here is this group, INCA, which manages to arrange this particular debate with Oswald while he's in New Orleans.

Elsa Knight Thompson

With Oswald taking a view contrary, at that point, to the right wing view. Is that ––

Hal Verb

On this program, he took a view that he was a leftist who identified with the Castro revolution.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Yes. That's what I mean. Yes. Quite. But, there was ... I do distinctly remember seeing the item that he had ... In spite of the fact that he was supposed to be on this Friends of Cuba ... What was the name of the committee? You know ...

William Turner

Fair Play for Cuba.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Fair Play for Cuba, and so on; that he also had been in ... had volunteered, at one time, to train people to go in on the Bay of Pigs invasion, Cuban exiles. Which, would be ––

William Turner

This is probably the Carlos Bringuier episode, because he appeared voluntarily at Bringuier office. Bringuier was probably one of the best known of the anti-Castro exiles down there. And, as a sign of good faith, he presented Bringuier with his Marine Corps drill manual, or field manual. And Bringuier felt that he couldn't be trusted, and maybe was a plant, and had nothing more to do with him. Although, that little altercation, where Bringuier, when Oswald was out in front of the International Trade Mart with his Fair Play for Cuba hand bills, and Bringuier comes up, and his little altercation. And Oswald said, "Well, go ahead; hit me if you want, Carlos." It almost sounds like it was staged; that Oswald really was trying to say, "Well, I'm on your side." All the evidence points that way.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Well, everything that one has ever read would give one the impression, certainly, that Oswald, whether by design, and whether on behalf of just himself, or other people, was certainly playing both sides of the street.

William Turner

Oh, yeah.

Elsa Knight Thompson

And so, you therefore have your choice as to which side of the street he was really in the pay of.

William Turner

Well, why would Oswald be associating with a guy like Jack Ruby, and Garrison has abundant evidence to show that he was. Why would he be associating with a man like that, who really is apolitical, on the surface, at least. This isn't somebody that Oswald would just pick up and associate with, because he didn't really like nightlife all that much to go to the Carousel Club.

Elsa Knight Thompson

What role does Garrison figure Ruby did play in it?

William Turner

Garrison feels that Ruby was manipulated in this thing, probably by the Dallas police. Now, Dallas police is too general; probably by key people within the Dallas police. And, for example, Hal mentioned Jim Phelan's article in the Saturday Evening Post, which made Garrison look a little ridiculous. And one of the means of ridicule that Phelan used in this was to quote Garrison as saying that you have to look at this through  the looking glass, almost like Lewis Carroll. And this was a source of great hilarity. But, it's really true; you do have to look at certain aspects of it in the looking glass. You have to look at Oswald in the looking glass. You have to look at Ruby.

His facade was that he would go around in the time between the assassination and his own killing of Oswald, and he'd go down to the postal box, where [Bernard] Weissman's answers to his advertisement, the black bordered ad, "Wanted for Treason", President Kennedy, was coming in, and said, "Oh, isn't that awful?" And draw attention to himself there. He would go out in the middle of the night and call up one of his employees, Larry Crafard, at the club, and go out and photograph the billboard that says, "Impeach Earl Warren" ... "Isn't that awful?" And these tender remarks about Jacqueline Kennedy, about sparing her the ordeal; in other words, this was an attempt to draw attention to the fact that he was really very pro Kennedy, and very incensed that anybody would kill Kennedy, and therefore, it creates a certain illusion. And that's what Garrison means by the looking glass.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Yes. I can see that. But, where does he think Ruby really was? Does he think that Ruby was a part of this conspiracy?

William Turner

Oh, certainly.

Elsa Knight Thompson

And it's obvious that if there were a conspiracy, that Mr. Oswald was very definitely the patsy.

William Turner

Yeah. Well, for example ––

Elsa Knight Thompson

Whatever he expected to be, that's what he was.

William Turner

Yeah. I'll illustrate by the statement of one witness, sworn statement, in Garrison's files. I can't name the man, but it really doesn't make any difference, he's evaluated as probably a reliable witness. This man was an artist, sort of a transient artist. He'd go from town to town, and then he got a little bit on the shorts in Dallas, and he went into the Dallas ... Or, no; he went into the H.L. Hunts son's business office, and asked if he could give him a little dough, or something, and H.L. Hunt's son said, "Well, I don't give out any ... You go down to the Dallas police department, give them your social security number, and they'll take care of you."

Now, this man said he went down there, he gave his social security number, the officer fixed him up with some kind of a chit that would get him a full tank of gas, and he was given a little pocket money. And he said, at that point, Jack Ruby came up, and said, "Well, maybe I can get you at least a temporary job." And he said that Ruby gave him a certain amount of money, a nominal sum, and said, "You go down to Alexandria, Louisiana, and check in the Bentley Hotel there, and somebody'll contact you further."

Now, this man, and his wife corroborates this, they went, and the hotel records corroborate it; they went to the Bentley hotel ... At least they corroborate that they checked in there fine. His story is that he was no sooner in there, than he was contacted by a man, his phone rang, "Come down to the lobby," and it was Oswald. And Oswald conferred with him, and made a, what at the time, he considered a very cryptic statement, to the effect that very soon, some Catholic leaders will be killed. Which, he interpreted ...

Elsa Knight Thompson

Well, what could Oswald say he was supposed to do, or anything? What did they confer about?

William Turner

He said he'd be contacted further. He was just confirming that he arrived, and then there was no further contact. And after a few days, this guy left. Now, the whole annals of this thing is filled with these kinds of fits and starts, they seemed. But, there was another incident; a man by the name of Donald Norton, who claims that he is a former CIA "unpeople" who worked for CIA on certain assignments, said, number one, that at one time, he was sent to Atlanta, and that he met a man at the Atlanta Airport, who gave him ... He was a courier. Norton was a courier. He was to deliver this amount of money to Havana. And this was in '58, before Castro got to power. And that the man who gave him the money was an Eastern Airlines pilot named Hugh Ferris.

Well, he later identifies Hugh Ferris as being Dave Ferrie, and Ferrie was indeed an Eastern Airlines pilot. He also said he was on another courier assignment to Monterrey, Mexico. And that, in the course of this assignment, he delivered money to Oswald, a man he now identifies as Lee Oswald. This was in September of '62. And then took documents from Oswald, he doesn't know what they were, and delivered them to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where a man gave him the password, "It's a fine day in Tulsa." And it was an oil firm employee. And he delivered the documents to him. He got paid by the assignment. He said he got $5,000 for that assignment.

Now, again, this man has been subjected ––

Elsa Knight Thompson

You think it all happens on TV, but I guess it doesn't.

William Turner

I can guarantee ––

Elsa Knight Thompson

I mean, it's just beyond ––

William Turner

–– that this thing is almost surrealistic. At times, I feel it's too James Bond-ish to be true. But, the facts are there, and it really is the way it's turning out.

Elsa Knight Thompson

And he feels, then, that all of this, or at least a good deal of it, can be brought to light during the trial of this guy Shaw, if he can get ––

William Turner

No, he doesn't. Garrison has made a statement; he says, "I just hope the American people don't think that the Shaw trial is going to bring out everything. And actually, we can only introduce what is material and relevant." And, as he said, Shaw is not at the center of this at all. Shaw was off to the side somewhere. Ergo, he won't be able to tell the whole story at this trial. And I know that he has a couple of other arrests in mind. But, this, of course, as I say, he is so freighted now, with the Shaw trial, and with this attack against him, that he just has to clear the decks.

Elsa Knight Thompson

And he wants to get the Shaw trial over with before he starts on what he considers to be the next step in ––

William Turner

Yeah. He's made a motion in open court. And again, the attempt to abort the Shaw trial is very evident. And again, Shaw himself seems to have CIA connections. Now, the foreign press has reported this. I have not read word one about it in the domestic press. But, in 1958, Shaw was on the board of directors of a Rome corporation called the World Trade Center. Now, Shaw, through his attorney, admits he was on this board of directors. He said, however, he was merely asked to be on it by his own broad of directors at the International Trade Mart.

Now, on this board of directors are some very strange people. One of them is a secretary of the Italian neo-fascist party. Another is the son-in-law of Nazi finance minister, Hjalmar Schacht. Another is a fellow who is now an executive of the Bank of Montreal, and he's a former OSS major, by the name of LM Bloomfield. This group was kicked out of Italy, the World Trade Center, because although it seemed to have plenty of money, it never did any ostensible business, and they suspected, the Italian police, that it was a CIA front. It is now headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, under the same name; probably a more friendly climate.

It also had a subsidiary corporation in Switzerland, which likewise, was ousted by the Swiss police, because it was suspected of being a conduit for funds for the OAS Movement; the Algeri-Français movement in Algeria. So, I must say that if Mr. Shaw can explain this in terms of his innocently being asked to go on the board, I will have to say then that the entire board of directors of the International Trade Mart in New Orleans are either extremely naive, or involved with the CIA.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Yes, Hal.

Hal Verb

May I just make this point? Bill has brought up an interesting point, and that is the deeper you get involved in this, the more the connections you see, not only with respect to quasi legal, and also secret groups, such as the CIA, and other operations, but you can see this involves the connections of people who are more or less in a position where they can use people for certain ends.

Now, for example, Clay Shaw, we'll say, is in a position as director of the International Trade Mart, to oversee operations of the second largest sea port in this country. Now, even Gordon Novel, who was one of the witnesses that Garrison is seeking to extradite from another state, and in fact has had very little success ... which, Bill has mentioned that there have been obstructions. One of the things he's had difficulty in is getting people extradited from different states. There are three states now that have refused to extradite material witnesses in this case.

Anyway, Gordon Novel, who was a very interesting character in this whole case, who also has admitted publicly that he has CIA connections, is reported to have said that Clay Shaw himself probably was connected with the CIA. So, what I'm trying to say here is that you can understand why, then, the Shaw trial would be blocked from coming to court, because the connections that are involved here go very deep within the government, as I see it. This is my belief why that trial is being obstructed. Not only in so far as Shaw's involvement in the assassination, I think it has a lot to do with connections that the government has set up.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Now, I would think that Mr. Garrison's life was not worth much on the open market if he proceeds with this. Does he travel with a bodyguard? Does he feel secure? And what motivates this man? Now, you've met him, you've talked to him; what's he in this for? You hear the crack, "Well, it's a lot of cheap publicity. He can't prove anything. But, it's putting him on the front pages of all the papers," and all this kind of thing. I would suspect that it was also, "I want to put him in his coffin."

William Turner

Well, I believe that this could be the case, Elsa. When I first went down to New Orleans, after his case broke, I really had some reservations about what a Southern prosecuting attorney was going to  be like, and what his motives might be.

Elsa Knight Thompson

It did seem a little unlikely, the whole thing, when it first began to break.

William Turner

It did seem a little unlikely. I have now come to the conclusion that Jim Garrison is an unusual man, in an unusual place, at an unusual time. Now, the allegations have been bandied around that he got into this thing for political ends. And I can only say that, if this was his motivation, that he is extremely ignorant of how politicians get elected.

Elsa Knight Thompson

So, I should think it would indicate rather bad judgment.

William Turner

Extremely bad judgment. Now, as I say, I was prepared to meet a Southern prosecuting attorney. I had a stereotype in my mind, which is always bad, but I did. And I ran into a man who was unusual in any region of the country. Garrison was at Dachau, and I think this made an indelible impression on him. Now, before the ... He's also extremely well ––

Elsa Knight Thompson

What do you mean he was at Dachau?

William Turner

With the Allied Armies that came upon Dachau. Yeah, I'm sorry. I should have elucidated a bit on that. And I think that the residual sight there just indelibly impressed him. Because when he wrote an introduction to a very well accepted criminology book, before this whole investigation came up ... Now, understand that the very fact that he was asked to write this introduction is somewhat an honor. Before this, he was well known in criminology circles. It is a very sensitive and historically based introduction, and he goes back to Dachau, and the apathy of the German people that permitted this to happen. And he draws a parallel with the Kitty Genovese case in New York, where 36 people watched in their windows as this girl was slowly killed.

And he talks about this lack of commitment, and lack of involvement. And maybe I just read the tail end of this allegory that he brings up at the end of his introduction, and he's talking about some extraterrestrial being who happens upon our self-destroyed Earth at some future date, and happens upon this human skull, and here's what Garrison writes in his allegory; he puts the words in the mouth of this being:

"Alas, poor man; a fellow of most infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. Where are your gibbets now? Your thumb screws, and your gallows? Your treasured hates and your cruelties? What happened to your disinterested millions? Your uncommitted and uninvolved; your preoccupied and bored? Where today are their private horizons and their mirrored worlds of self? Where is their splendid indifference now?"

Now, this is Garrison, really, when you talk to the man. We were both in the FBI, and he asks me about a particular weapon that's in a photograph, and I said, "I don't know what it is, Jim. Matter of fact, I don't like guns." And he said, "Isn't that funny? I don't either." So, he's a rather unusual prosecutor, and he's an extremely sensitive man. He told me a year ago, before this whole thing started, he said, "I was, vis-à-vis Vietnam, I was what you might call a mild hawk. I'm really a dove now. This whole thing has changed my thinking."

Now, if this is a fool, or a knave, or a political opportunist, so be it, but I just don't believe it. And I think that the press has portrayed him in this light, and they have portrayed him in this light in a very calculated manner. And I think that we have a very definite problem here in New Orleans. As Garrison puts it, "I am probably the only prosecutor, not defendant, that has been convicted in the press prior to trial." And if they can silence Garrison ... And when I say "they", I mean the orchestrated attack obviously from Washington, obviously involving the mass media; if they can silence Garrison, I'm afraid they'll be able to silence anyone. If they can portray him in an unfair light, I think they can do it to anyone. And I think that there's over and above, or maybe parallel to the issue of who killed Kennedy, there is this issue of the press in the United States. And it's completely slanted coverage of what is going on down there.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Is there anything else you would like to say about what you envisage as the future progress of this, before we close the interview? Either of you? Or, both of you?

William Turner

Well, I think that, as I say, every day, there seems to be a new development in Garrison's case; not that it makes the papers, but internally. I have seen his evidence, practically all of it, at any rate. Because having researched the Minutemen a year and a half ago, and the Minutemen being involved in this thing, I would suppose that much of the information I have is valuable to his investigation. I would say that he has a very excellent case. It gets better every day. And if ... As we both stated, that if we were back in the FBI, and we had 6,000 agents around the country, and we could get on that teletype and mark it urgent, and send out these leads that this assassination conspiracy would be solved inside of three weeks, and the conspirators would be in jail.

But, as I've outlined to you, Garrison has very limited jurisdiction, only within the parish of Orleans. He has encountered all kinds of obstructionist tactics from the FBI, from the national press, from the governors of the various states, from people within his own bailiwick, even from an infiltrator in his own organization, who CBS gave national coverage to, and CBS has yet to report that Dean Andrews has been convicted of perjury.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Dean Andrews, I take it, was the man you referred to as having infiltrated the Garrison ––

William Turner

No. William Gurvich is the one who infiltrated down there, and then went on and made some very anti-Garrison statements, and saying that the man didn't have a case. And CBS interrupted its four part series to put Gurvich on. But, they didn't interrupt their series the next night to report that Gurvich had been allowed to testify as to what factual material he had before the grand jury in New Orleans, and the grand jury decided that he didn't have any facts. They didn't interrupt their program for that.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Well, what about the man who was convicted of perjury? Because I don't know who he is.

William Turner

Dean Andrews is the attorney in New Orleans who ... I originally told you that Clay Shaw is alleged to be Clay Bertrand. Dean Andrews is the attorney who Bertrand referred Oswald to, and he's the one that got the phone call the day after the assassination, from Clay Bertrand, to defend Oswald. And, at the ––

Elsa Knight Thompson

And did he perjure himself about this?

William Turner

Yes. It was about this. He was very ... With no qualifications at all, he told the Warren commission that he could positively identify this Clay Bertrand, and if he ever got his hands on him, he'd drag him right in. So, he's hauled before some kind of a hearing down there to see whether he can identify Clay Shaw or not as Clay Bertrand, and he says, "I wouldn't be able to identify anyone as whether it was Clay Bertrand or not." He's completely changed his story.

And when Mark Lane tried to interview him, well, this was two years ago; why, first he said, "Yes. Fine. Come on up." And by the time Mark Lane got to his office, he said, "Gosh, I'm sorry; I can't discuss anything about it. I called Washington, and they have, in effect, told me that if I say anything, I'll get a hole in my head." So, he said, "I'll take you to dinner, though."

So, this is the kind of thing that constantly comes up; this intimidation of witnesses, trying to either bribe them, or lure them to tell a different story.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Yes, Hal.

Hal Verb

Yes. Bill mentioned Bill Gurvich. I want to show the very subtle ways in which the press can distort the picture. CBS had presented Bill Gurvich. And, in fact, the press throughout the country had presented Bill Gurvich as Garrison's chief investigator. Now, the fact is that Gurvich was never the chief investigator. As a matter of fact, if I'm not correct, Bill, isn't the assistant ranking district attorney the chief investigator for ––

William Turner

Yeah. Garrison's office doesn't really have a pecking order there, but Charles Ward is the senior district ... But, they have a man, a detective, posted from the New Orleans Police Department who really is the chief investigator. His name is Louis Ivon.

Hal Verb

That's correct.

William Turner

And he succeeded a man by the name of Pershing Gervais when Gervais resigned a year or two ago.

Hal Verb

Right. Now, CBS, in presenting this, didn't present Gurvich’s real relationship to this Garrison investigation. He wasn't on the payroll. He had volunteered his information, or his services. And this, of course, did not come out in the CBS interview. Another curious and interesting thing about this is the timing of Gurvich’s resignation, or declining to associate himself any further with this investigation. When did this occur? This occurred at the end of June of this year, 1967, when at the very time, the Associated Press, and CBS, and NBC were all coming out with their programs. I don't think that this timing is just accidental; in my own view, I think this was a deliberate timing, to create the impression that Garrison was a totally discredited figure, and that his investigation had no validity to it.

Elsa Knight Thompson

But, I gather from all the detailed information and statements that you have given, and also the overall complexion of what you both had to say, that you feel that Garrison has a case, and that this is a man of high ideals and integrity who is attempting to do something that he believes in. Would that be ––

William Turner

I definitely feel that Garrison is a very committed man, and that he feels that this is very definitely a conspiracy here, and that come hell or high water, it's his duty to investigate that conspiracy, to bring to justice those who were involved in it, and at least as far as his own jurisdiction in Orleans parish is concerned. And it would have been far more in his own interest, as far as political aspirations, any future aspirations, to have merely said, when Ferrie died, "Well, there goes my chief witness. That's my case," and forget it. He would have had a much better chance at becoming Louisiana senator, or whatever these aspirations are supposed to be. And I certainly hope he does have political ambitions, because I'd like to see a man of his caliber in high office.

Elsa Knight Thompson

Well, as I understand it, he says that he's going to go on with this if it takes him the next 30 years. But, I believe that now our time is up, and I want to thank you very much, William Turner and Hal Verb, for coming in to our studios.


This transcript has been edited for grammar and flow.


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