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For The Record  

FTR #288 Update on the JFK Assassination

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NB: This RealAudio stream contains FTRs 288 and 289 in sequence. Each is a 30-minute broadcast.

1. Bringing up to date the investigation into President Kennedy’s assassination, this program begins with discussion of a recent British forensic scientific study that proves what serious investigators have long known—that there was a fourth (and fatal shot) from the grassy knoll. “The House Assassinations Committee may have been right after all: There was a shot from the grassy knoll. That was the key finding of the congressional investigation that concluded 22 years ago that President ‘John F. Kennedy’s murder in Dallas in 1963 was ‘probably the result of a conspiracy.’ A shot from the grassy knoll meant that two gunmen must have fired at the president within a split-second sequence. Lee Harvey Oswald, accused of firing three shots at Kennedy from a perch at the Texas School Book Depository, could not have been in two places at once. . . . A new, peer-reviewed article in Science and Justice, a quarterly publication of Britain’s Forensic Science Society. . . . said it was more than 96 percent certain that there was a shot from the grassy knoll to the right of the president’s limousine, in addition to the three shots from a book depository window above and behind the president’s limousine.” (“Study backs Theory of ‘grassy knoll'” by George Lardner Jr.; The Washington Post; 3/26/2001.)

2. Much of the rest of the program consists of discussion of aspects of the House Select Committee’s investigation that are unlikely to be analyzed in the Washington Post. In 1999, investigator Bill Davy published a remarkable book about New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation into the JFK assassination. (Let Justice Be Done; by William Davy; Copyright 1999 [SC]; Jordan Publishing; ISBN 0-9669716-0-4.) Relying largely on documents declassified in the wake of the Oliver Stone film JFK, Davy’s extraordinary book validates much of what Garrison had to say.

3. The program highlights parts of the HSCA’s investigation that support Garrison’s thesis. “HSCA Chief Counsel, G. Robert Blakey, once referred to the Committee’s work as ‘the last investigation.’ As such, it is only proper that the HSCA have the last word on Clay Shaw. On September 1, 1977, staff counsel Jonathan Blackmer, authored a 15-page memorandum addressed to Blakey, as well as staff members, Gary Cornwell, Ken Klein, and Cliff Fenton. Blackmer was the lead counsel for team 3, the HSCA team responsible for the New Orleans and Cuban angles of the investigation. After an investigative trip to New Orleans, Blackmer concluded in his memo: ‘We have reason to believe Shaw was heavily involved in the anti-Castro efforts in New Orleans in the 1960’s and [was] possibly one of the high level planners or ‘cut out’ to the planners of the assassination.'” (Let Justice Be Done; p. 202.)

4. Clay Shaw was, of course, the individual tried by Garrison for Kennedy’s assassination. The first suspect investigated by Garrison was David Ferrie. In its final report, the House Select Committee also recommended that the Department of Justice investigate Ferrie and his anti-Castro Cuban associates in the New Orleans area. Ferrie had operated as an investigator for Guy Banister’s detective agency in New Orleans. The Banister operation, in turn, had served as an apparent intelligence front for covert operations against Cuba. Ferrie was instrumental in running a training facility at Lake Ponchartrain (Louisiana), at which Cuban exiles received guerilla training for operations against Castro.

5. The House Select Committee appears to have obtained a film of this facility, which connects some very interesting people. “It is possible that a film once existed of this training camp. The former Deputy Chief Counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Robert Tannenbaum, recalled that the committee viewed the film and to Tannenbaum it was a shock to the system. ‘The movie was shocking to me because it demonstrated the notion that the CIA was training, in America, a separate army,’ he said. ‘It was shocking to me because I’m a true believer in the system and yet there are notorious characters in the system, who are funded by the system, who are absolutely un-American! And who knows what they would do, eventually. What if we send people to Washington who they can’t deal with? Out comes their secret army? So, I find that to be as contrary to the Constitution as you can get.’ What is even more shocking is what the film reveals. According to Tannenbaum, depicted in the film among the Cuban exiles were Guy Banister, David Atlee Philips and Lee Harvey Oswald. Inexplicably, the film would later disappear from the Committee’s files.” (Ibid.; p. 30.) The Banister “detective agency” was also involved with collecting intelligence on the American civil rights movement, and was deeply involved with white supremacist organizations.

6. The House Select Committee also developed information linking Banister employee Ferrie, Oswald and Clay Shaw. Credible eyewitness testimony places these individuals at a Clinton (Louisiana) voter registration drive in August of 1963. “The chairman of the Clinton chapter of CORE [Congress Of Racial Equality], Corrie Collins, was monitoring the drive outside the Registrar’s office, when at approximately 10:00a.m. he noticed the arrival of the car. Thinking they might be FBI, Collins studied the car and its occupants closely. As the car came to a stop, he observed a young white male exit the rear of the car and enter the registration line, while the driver and the other passenger remained in the car. Later, under oath, at the trial of Clay Shaw in 1969 and in his testimony to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1978, Collins would identify the driver of the car as Clay Shaw, the passenger as David Ferrie, and the person in the registration line as Lee Harvey Oswald.” (Ibid.; pp. 103-104.)

7. “A mere four years later, Congress would conclude that ‘[the HSCA] was inclined to believe that Oswald was in Clinton La., in late August, early September 1963, and that he was in the company of David Ferrie, if not Clay Shaw. . . [the Clinton witnesses] established an association of an undetermined nature between Ferrie, Shaw, and Oswald less than 3 months before the assassination.’ The committee added that they ‘also found that there was at least a possibility that Oswald and Guy ‘Banister were acquainted.’ They further concluded that the ‘CIA-Mafia-Cuban plots had all the elements necessary for a successful assassination conspiracy.’ It is probably the ultimate irony that the U.S. government’s conclusions echoed those of Jim Garrison a decade earlier.” (Ibid.; p. 189.)

8. Banister’s New Orleans office also served as the headquarters of the Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean, part of what would formally coalesce as the World Anti-Communist League in 1967.

9. While investigating Eladio del Valle, Ferrie’s associate in covert operations against Cuba, Garrison’s investigating team was infiltrated by an anti-Castro Cuban with strong ties to the intelligence community. This operative, Bernardo de Torres, may well have been involved with the assassination itself. His name later cropped up in connection with the assassination of Orlando Letelier.

10. “On the day Ferrie died, del Valle was found brutally murdered in his car in the parking lot of a Miami shopping center. Prior to that, Garrison had sent a part-time investigator named Bernardo de Torres to question del Valle. De Torres was a military coordinator for the Brigade 2506 part of the exile landing force during the Bay of Pigs invasion. He was captured by Castro’s forces and detained until Christmas Eve of 1962. He eventually found his way to New Orleans where, according to de Torres, he was approached by Sergeant Duffy of the NOPD and asked to join Garrison’s staff. As with many other investigators and volunteers at Tulane and Broad, de Torres’ bona fides are suspect. First of all, it was de Torres who showed up at the D.A.’s office in New Orleans very early in Garrison’s investigation claiming he had important information. He said he was a private detective who wanted to help and dropped the name of Miami D.A. Richard Gerstein as an entrée. Shortly after de Torres was given the assignment to question del Valle, del Valle’s brutalized body was discovered in the vicinity of de Torres’ Miami apartment. It was later determined that de Torres was filing reports on Garrison to the Miami CIA station, JM/WAVE. Not long after he left Garrison’s staff, de Torres went to work for Mitch Werbell’s Military Armament Corporation, a large supplier of weaponry to the CIA. The HSCA developed evidence that de Torres was actually a CIA officer with links to Military Intelligence. A well connected anti-Castro Cuban, Arturo Cobos told the FBI that de Torres was ‘the man to call with contacts on a high level with the CIA in Washington, D.C.’ The HSCA also came into possession of investigative information, which indicated that de Torres may have been in Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination, and further, that he may have been involved in an assassination conspiracy, charges which de Torres denies. As for Garrison he later came to believe that de Torres was one of his earliest sources of misinformation and recalled that whatever information de Torres provided never went anywhere. In the late 1970’s, de Torres would be linked to the bombing assassination of Chilean leader Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C.” (Ibid.; pp. 148-149.)

11. We examine connecting links between the Iran-Contra scandal and the Letelier assassination.

12. Discussion of connections between Iran-Contra drug smuggler Barry Seal, Ferrie and Lee Harvey Oswald. “On July 16, 1955, his 16th birthday, Seal got his pilot’s license. The information will be contained in a forthcoming book, Barry and the Boys by Daniel Hopsicker. Two weeks later, he boarded a U.S. Air Force plane for a two-week summer camp with the Civil Air Patrol at Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana. There he came under the command of David Ferrie, and met fellow cadet Lee Harvey Oswald, two principal figures in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.” (“Inside the Octopus” by Preston Peet; The Best of High Times, #28; p. 81.)

13. Later in his career, Seal went to work for the 20th Special Forces Group, elements of which were giving military training to the Ku Klux Klan and were also present in Memphis, Tennessee on the day Martin Luther King was assassinated. “He [Seal] was assigned to the 21st Special Forces Group and went to jump school in Ft. Benning, Georgia. On May 1, 1963, Seal was assigned to Company D, Special Ops Detachment of the 20th Special Forces Group—Spec Forces Group Airborne.” (Ibid.; p. 82.)

14. Some observers believe Seal may have been connected to the assassination of JFK. “During this time, just before President Kennedy was killed, an illuminating photograph was taken. A smiling 24-year-old Seal is seated at a nightclub table in Mexico City with [Watergate burglar] Frank Sturgis, [Iran-Contra operative] Felix Rodriguez, and William Seymour, all members of the CIA’s assassination squad, Operation 40. Louis Gaudin an air-traffic controller at Redbird Airport, located south of Dallas, told the FBI he recalled observing three men in business suits board a Comanche-type aircraft hours after the assassination. Seal owned such a plane, and many believe he flew the plane that spirited the assassins to Canada.” (Idem.)

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