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FTR #1049 Interview #18 with Jim DiEugenio about “Destiny Betrayed”

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This broad­cast was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment [6].

Guy Ban­is­ter employ­ee Tom­my Baum­ler: ” . . . . what­ev­er hap­pens, the Shaw case will end with­out pun­ish­ment for him [Shaw], because fed­er­al pow­er will see to that.”

[7]Intro­duc­tion: This is the eigh­teenth of a planned long series of inter­views with Jim DiEu­ge­nio about his tri­umphal analy­sis of Pres­i­dent Kennedy’s assas­si­na­tion and New Orleans Dis­trict Attor­ney Jim Gar­rison’s hero­ic inves­ti­ga­tion of the killing.

(Lis­ten­ers can order Des­tiny Betrayed [8] and Jim’s oth­er books, as well as sup­ple­ment­ing those vol­umes with arti­cles about this coun­try’s polit­i­cal assas­si­na­tions at his web­site Kennedys and King [9]Jim is also a reg­u­lar guest and expert com­men­ta­tor on Black Op Radio [10].)

This inter­view con­tin­ues with the analy­sis of Clay Shaw’s tri­al.

Exem­pli­fy­ing the pow­er that was mar­shaled on behalf of Clay Shaw was the treat­ment accord­ed FBI agent Reg­is Kennedy.

Not only did the Depart­ment of Jus­tice inter­cede ahead of time to lim­it Kennedy’s tes­ti­mo­ny, but Nixon’s Attor­ney Gen­er­al John Mitchell “severe­ly cur­tailed” his tes­ti­mo­ny “mid-tri­al.”

Des­tiny Betrayed by Jim DiEu­ge­nio; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEu­ge­nio; ISBN 978–1‑62087–056‑3; p. 298. [8]

. . . . The only wit­ness that Gar­ri­son was able to pro­duce to inquire into the offi­cial inves­ti­ga­tion of the assas­si­na­tion in New Orleans was FBI agent Reg­is Kennedy. And even then, by pri­or arrange­ment with the Jus­tice Depart­ment, Kennedy would only tes­ti­fy about a cer­tain area of his inquiry, name­ly his inter­view with Dean Andrews and his con­se­quent search for Clay Bertrand. This lim­i­ta­tion hurt the DA since Kennedy was a rel­e­vant wit­ness to oth­er aspects of the case. For instance, along with sev­er­al oth­ers, he had been a mem­ber of the Friends of Demo­c­ra­t­ic Cuba group set up by Guy Ban­is­ter and William Dalzell. Fur­ther, there were wit­ness­es who put Kennedy in Banister’s office. There­fore, what Kennedy could have told the court about Ban­is­ter, Fer­rie, their asso­ci­a­tion with the Cubans–especially Ser­gio Art­cacha Smith–and Oswald, was very like­ly con­sid­er­able. But he was not allowed to tes­ti­fy about any of those impor­tant mat­ters. Con­se­quent­ly, when Alcock asked him if he was involved with the inves­ti­ga­tion into Pres­i­dent Kennedy’s death pri­or to his inter­view with Andrews, Kennedy said he was not sure if he could answer that ques­tion. The dis­cus­sion then went inside the judge’s cham­bers. Con­nick then called Wash­ing­ton. After this, the jury was called back inside. Alcock then asked Kennedy if, pri­or to his inter­view with Andrews, had he been engaged in the inquiry into Pres­i­dent Kennedy’s assas­si­na­tion. Kennedy replied in the  affir­ma­tive. Alcock then was allowed to ask the  fol­low-op ques­tion, which relat­ed to the first: Was Kennedy seek­ing Clay Bertrand in con­nec­tion with his over­all inves­ti­ga­tion into the assas­si­na­tion. Kennedy said that he was.

There was a code to all this that Alcock could not have known about. But it was part of the rea­son that Attor­ney Gen­er­al John Mitchell severe­ly cur­tailed Reg­is Kennedy’s tes­ti­mo­ny in mid-tri­al. . . .

A major ele­ment in the tes­ti­mo­ny dur­ing Clay Shaw’s tri­al was the tes­ti­mo­ny of autop­sy sur­geon Army Lieu­tenant Colonel Pierre Finck. The autop­sy was being con­trolled by one of the high-rank­ing mil­i­tary offi­cers present at the pro­ce­dure.

Des­tiny Betrayed by Jim DiEu­ge­nio; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEu­ge­nio; ISBN 978–1‑62087–056‑3; p. 300. [8]

. . . . Finck replied that he was not run­ning the autop­sy, it was Com­man­der James Humes. When Oser asked if Humes was actu­al­ly in charge, Finck made a dis­clo­sure which lit­er­al­ly changed the face of the autop­sy evi­dence for­ev­er. And it should have rocked the news media if [media hatch­et man James] Phe­lan had not been con­trol­ling it. Finck replied that Humes actu­al­ly stopped and asked, “Who is in charge here?” Finck then said he heard an Army Gen­er­al say, “I am.” Finck then added, “You must under­stand that in those cir­cum­stances, there were law enforce­ment offi­cials, mil­i­tary peo­ple with var­i­ous ranks, and you have to coor­di­nate the oper­a­tions accord­ing to direc­tions”. . . .

[11]Then, Jim notes that Alvin Oser had to ask Finck eight times as to why Finck did not dis­sect the track of the neck wound. Finck­’s response–that he was ordered not to do so by one of the high-rank­ing offi­cers present, is proof of a con­spir­a­cy.

Des­tiny Betrayed by Jim DiEu­ge­nio; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEu­ge­nio; ISBN 978–1‑62087–056‑3; p. 302. [8]

. . . . [Alvin] Oser then moved on to anoth­er key issue that exposed the pathol­o­gists as pawns. A very impor­tant point about the autop­sy is its fail­ure to con­vinc­ing­ly prove direc­tion­al­i­ty.  That is, from which direc­tion did the bul­lets enter the body? There have always been seri­ous queries about whether the wound in Kennedy’s throat was an entrance or exit wound. If that wound was one of entrance, then Kennedy was shot at least once from the front. That shot could not have been from Oswald, there­fore the mur­der was a con­spir­a­cy. What makes this pos­si­bil­i­ty very real is that Mal­colm Per­ry said dur­ing a tele­vised press con­fer­ence on Novem­ber 22 that the throat wound was one of entrance. He repeat­ed this three times that day. Since he did the tra­cheoto­my right over that wound, he should cer­tain­ly know. The best way to have proven this point once and for all was to have dis­sect­ed the wound track. Amaz­ing­ly, this was not done. When Oser tried to find out why it was not done, Finck used every eva­sion he could to avoid answer­ing the ques­tion. Going over the tran­script of this exchange is a bit star­tling. The read­er will find that Oser had to pose the ques­tion eight sep­a­rate times. It got so bad that Oser even had to request that the judge direct the wit­ness to answer the ques­tion. Finck final­ly answered with, “As I recall I was told not to, but I don’t remem­ber by whom.”  Again, some­one was con­trol­ling the pathol­o­gy team in a way that pre­vent­ed them from doing a full and cor­rect autop­sy. . . . Fur­ther, the fact that the doc­tors were ordered not to track the wound indi­cat­ed the mil­i­tary brass may have been try­ing to cov­er this point up. . . .

One of Gar­rison’s strongest weapons in his coun­ter­at­tack against the forces run­ning inter­fer­ence on behalf of Shaw and oth­ers involved in the assas­si­na­tion was the Zaprud­er film [12], which clear­ly shows Kennedy’s body being thrown back and to the left, indi­cat­ing a shot from the front.

Media hatch­et man James Phe­lan who, like Wal­ter Sheri­dan and Hugh Aynesworth worked with the intel­li­gence ser­vices, became a defense wit­ness for Clay Shaw and also played what was, in effect, a supervisory/PR role in pre­sid­ing over a con­sor­tium of jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing the Shaw tri­al.

Des­tiny Betrayed by Jim DiEu­ge­nio; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEu­ge­nio; ISBN 978–1‑62087–056‑3; pp. 289–290. [8]

 . . . . That jour­nal­is­tic duo, Phe­lan and Ayneswoth, were both on the scene: Phe­lan as a wit­ness for the defense and Aynesworth to help Shaw’s attor­neys. An odd thing about this was that nei­ther man had any osten­si­ble writ­ing assign­ment at the time. But it turned out that Phe­lan had a very spe­cial func­tion for his back­ers. Most reporters in town to cov­er the pro­ceed­ings rent­ed a hotel room, but not Phe­lan. Phe­lan rent­ed a house. Why would he do such a thing if he was not there to write a sto­ry? because his was a much big­ger assign­ment. His job was to put the spin on each day’s tes­ti­mo­ny for the resid­ing press corps, there­by con­trol­ling the entire nation­al media reportage on the Shaw tri­al. How did he do such a thing? He would invite all the reporters over to his rent­ed house at the end of each day. He would then serve them refresh­ments and snacks. He then would spell out the next day’s sto­ry on a chalk­board. This is how some of the most inter­est­ing and impor­tant tes­ti­mo­ny pre­sent­ed dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings got cov­ered up by the media. On the day the Zaprud­er film was shown, Phe­lan had his work cut out for him. For the repeat­ed show­ing of the film was shown, Phe­lan had his work cut out for him. For the repeat­ed show­ing of the film—depicting Kennedy’s body being vio­lent­ly knocked back—really shook up the press. It appeared Gar­ri­son was right, it was a con­spir­a­cy. But when they arrived at Phe­lan’s rent­ed house, the reporter pulled a prover­bial rab­bit out of his hat. He took out his chalk­board, raised up his piece of chalk, and he began to out­line the dynam­ics of the so-called “jet-effect” expla­na­tion for the action of the film. That is, if Oswald was fir­ing from behind Kennedy, why does Kennedy’s body recoil with tremen­dous force to the rear of the car? What Phe­lan and the jet effect prof­fer is that some­how, the spurt­ing of blood and brains served as a jet that drove Kennedy’s head back­ward with over­pow­er­ing force. This is how deter­mined Phe­lan was to keep a lid on what came out of the tri­al. . . .

In our pre­vi­ous pro­gram, we high­light­ed the attempt on book­ing offi­cer Aloy­sius Habighorst’s life on the eve of his tes­ti­mo­ny in the Clay Shaw tri­al. When he tes­ti­fied, Judge Hag­ger­ty refused to allow his tes­ti­mo­ny into evi­dence.

Des­tiny Betrayed by Jim DiEu­ge­nio; Sky­horse Pub­lish­ing [SC]; Copy­right 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEu­ge­nio; ISBN 978–1‑62087–056‑3; pp. 306–308. [8]

. . . . When Shaw was first arrest­ed in March of 1967, Habighorst had han­dled the book­ing. Before hav­ing him sign the fin­ger­print card, the offi­cer had rou­tine­ly asked if the defen­dant had ever used an alias. Appar­ent­ly unset­tled by his arrest, Shaw had replied “Clay Bertrand.” Habighorst typed this on the card and Shaw signed it. Alcock now want­ed to admit both the card and the officer’s tes­ti­mo­ny as evi­dence into the tri­al. This seemed pow­er­ful, damn­ing evi­dence because it came right out of Shaw’s mouth and hand. . . .The prosecution’s protes­ta­tions fell on deaf ears. Judge Hag­ger­ty would not allow the evi­dence. . . .

Alcock leaped out of his chair. His face red and his voice cracked with emo­tion. “Your Hon­or. Are you rul­ing on the cred­i­bil­i­ty of offi­cer Habighorst?” . . . .

. . . . “The whole world can hear that I do not believe Offi­cer Habighorst. . . . .”

“I demand a mis­tri­al,” Alcock shout­ed. “A judge’s unso­licit­ed com­ment on evi­dence . . . .”

“Denied,” said Hag­ger­ty. . . .

The pro­gram con­cludes with dis­cus­sion of Har­ry Con­nick­’s destruc­tion of Gar­rison’s files and of the gov­ern­men­t’s efforts to dis­cred­it Gari­son. This will be tak­en up at greater length in our next pro­gram.